Happy belated Father’s Day! To celebrate, lets try to debunk the stereotype of black “deadbeat daddies.” Keep the following points in mind:
1). Contrary to popular misconception, black men are involved in the lives of their children. A study from the Center for Disease Control with a representative sample found that black men are more likely to feed, bathe, play with, and read to their children on a daily basis than men of other races.
2). According to the Pew Research Center, even when black men do not live with their children, they are still more likely to have contact with them than men of other races. 67% of black men report having contact at least once a month, in comparison to 59% of white men and 32% of Hispanic men.
3). Our understanding of what ‘counts’ as a ‘real family’ is shaped by racism, sexism, and capitalism. Many people believe that parents must biological related to the child, heterosexual, married, and living under the same roof to provide a nurturing environment. But there is a mountain of evidence that proves otherwise. While it is true that black men are less likely to marry their child’s mother and live with them, this is not – I repeat – is not synonymous with neglecting their children. It is understandable to speak from personal experience and condemn individual black males – but that does not warrant the systematic indictment of black men as a group.
4). The presence of a black man does absolutely nothing to insulate us from anti-blackness. Far too often, we hear prominent voices frame black men as a magical cure for structural problems like mass incarceration and poverty. The argument goes more or less like this: “if their father was around, they wouldn’t have this problem.” In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, for example, President Obama created My Brother’s Keeper: an initiative to keep young (black) kids “on track” by connecting them with mentors. But this completely overlooked the fact that Trayvon’s father was in his life. Rather than have an honest discussion about America’s racist function, America prefers to perpetuate irrational and unfounded myths of black dysfunction. Besides: black people are not killed because of their ‘lack of family values’ – they are killed because they are black. Plain and simple. Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed 9 random people at a church in South Carolina, did so simply because they were black. He did not stop to ask them if they grew up with fathers or whether they lived with their children. He saw that they were black and that was it.
So please stop burdening black men with an undue amount of transformative power.