UPDATED: 6:00 a.m. EDT, June 20, 2021 —
On this Father’s Day, especially one that falls right smack dab in the middle of a global racial reckoning that began in the U.S., it remains important to point out and debunk the unfortunate theories that incorrectly generalize and stereotype Black fathers as deadbeat dads who prioritize anything but their children.
The fact of the matter is — and has been for quite some time — statistics show that Black men with children are victims of a myth that paints them as the most irresponsible and chronically absentee fathers not just in the United States but also around the world. The truth is that African American men are the most involved fathers, period.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a federal government agency, published a study saying exactly that: Black men, compared to white and Hispanic fathers, were the most involved in their children’s daily lives, including everything from talking to their kids to helping them with homework to bathing them, and much more.
Most Black fathers live with their sons and daughters, the book “All In” by Josh Levs noted. About 2.5 million Black fathers live with their children, while approximately 1.7 million of them don’t live under the same roof with their kids. Many of these fathers don’t marry the mother of their children, but that doesn’t make them absentee fathers, as New York Time’s Charles Blow underscored.
In preparing their children for adulthood, African American fathers are having serious conversations with their kids about how to navigate the pitfalls of being Black in America. Some of those conversations were recently shared with Oprah Winfrey from actor Sterling Brown during a Father’s Day special hosted by the media maven on her cable network, OWN.
In conversations with their sons, many Black fathers are instructing them on how to manage encounters with law enforcement officers. They often emphasize to their sons at an early age that cops will view them as suspicious and dangerous for no other reason than the color of their skin. It’s a hard thing to tell one’s child, but their survival could depend on realizing that truth.
“I know that I have a special boy. But my reality as a father is, one day, this 10-year-old could not come home—at the hands of foolishness or hatred or misunderstanding,” Dame Drummer, a 40-year-old Oakland father said.