This is a great documentary on Black Fatherhood. This is a short documentary focusing on the thoughts, experiences and ideas of different Black men on the importance of fatherhood. With so many negative images aimed at Black men being fathers these are some real life stories from men expressing that Daddy Matters.
A recent New York Times study led with the sobering headline, “1.5 Million Missing Black Men.” It included such findings as this: “Of the 1.5 million missing black men from 25 to 54—which demographers call the prime-age years—higher imprisonment rates account for almost 600,000. Almost 1 in 12 black men in this age group are behind bars.” This massive incarceration, compounded by substandard health care and fragile mortality rates, results in a fact that leaped from the study:
More than one out of every six black men who today should be between 25 and 54 years old have disappeared from daily life.
Here’s the thing, though: Many of them aren’t “missing.” They haven’t “disappeared.” Many of them have been stolen, ripped from their families to feed bloated prison cells, then regurgitated back out into society, more than likely unable to vote or find a job that enables them to care for their families. There is a direct line from slavery straight to the prison-industrial complex, a devastating continuum that first dehumanizes, then enslaves and criminalizes black bodies for profit, ultimately rendering them killable in the eyes of society. And because patriarchy is the poison of choice in a heteronormative society that places value on the “traditional” family and its central role in community building, there has always been a very concentrated effort to subjugate and oppress black men.
Still … black men are present and engaged fathers who love their children.
“People think they don’t care, but we know they do,” said Joseph Jones, president of the Center for Urban Families, an organization that works to support African-American fathers, to the Los Angeles Times. “We see how dads are fighting against the odds to be engaged in the lives of their children.”
In 2013 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study that I’ve cited often over the years, “Fathers’ Involvement With Their Children: United States, 2006-2010” (pdf). It does a great job shattering some pervasive myths about African-American fathers. The findings include the following:
* More African-American fathers live with their children (2.5 million) than live apart from their children (1.7 million).
Of African-American fathers surveyed who live with their children,
* 78.2 percent fed or ate meals with their children daily, compared with 73.9 percent of white fathers;
* 70.4 percent bathed, diapered or dressed their children daily, compared with 60.0 percent of white fathers;
* 82.2 percent played with their children daily, compared with 82.7 percent of white fathers;
* 34.9 percent read to their children daily, compared with 24.9 percent of white fathers;
* 40.6 percent helped their children with their homework or checked to make sure that they finished it daily, compared with 29.3 percent of white fathers.
* Of the fathers who live away from their children, African-American fathers outperformed white and Latino fathers on nearly all measures surveyed, including reading to their children daily, helping them with homework and changing their diapers.
While it is certainly true that many fathers need to step up and take better care of their children, this is not specific to black fathers by a long shot; and yet too many of us have internalized that self-hatred as easily as we’ve digested the myth of black-on-black crime. Even where there is parity in the numbers, black fathers surveyed were no less present in their children’s lives, despite the deadbeat-dad myth that dogs their steps.
It could be argued, then, that pundits and politicians would be better served pontificating on the pathology of absent white fathers, those who aren’t faced with the same structural impediments but still come up short. You know, the ones who start at third base but still can’t make it to home plate for dinner.
But that wouldn’t be good political theater, now, would it?
And for those in our communities who would say, “Well, we shouldn’t be concerned about what other fathers are doing,” I would then question why too many people with a platform seem to be performing that criticism for the white gaze in order to procure “tough love” points and respectability certificates.
Conservative demagogues, such as Bill O’Reilly and Geraldo Rivera, are expected to indulge in such tactics out of either malice or ignorance, but the propaganda also comes from African-American men in high places, such as President Barack Obama, whose scathing indictments seem to reflect a desire to play the role of father-in-chief, reprimanding a wayward African-American demographic that dreams of earning his approval.
Article written by Kirsten West Savali