Missing Black Fathers

There is a longstanding myth that African-American fathers are more often than not, lacking involvement with their children if not absent all together. The perception is that African-American fathers involved in their children’s lives are few and far between. This is a myth that needs to be dispelled. There is no denying that we need to expand the narrative surrounding our families but we can’t do that while dragging down the image of strong black men. There is a father-absence crisis in America but it’s not just a “Black” thing.

I grew up surrounded by proud African-American fathers. The types that were father figures to their own children and others in the neighborhood. They showed up to help clean the community, went to church on Sundays, was actively involved in athletic programs, and wouldn’t hesitate to correct you if you were doing something out-of-place. These were men from all walks of life, involved in many different careers. Some of them were unemployed or used the streets to make money however they saw fit. Some went to work early and came home extremely late. They were not perfect. They had flaws. They were real men doing exactly as they were supposed to do.

The CDC 2013 National Health Records statistics found that African-American fathers are more involved with their children than Caucasian and Latino fathers. The absence of fathers involved with their children is present across all communities. Research found that African-American Fathers are more likely to live separately from their children. Although African-American fathers are more likely to live in separate households, the Pew Research Center estimates that 67 percent of African-American dads who don’t live with their kids see them at least once a month, compared to 59 percent of Caucasian dads and just 32 percent of Hispanic dads.

This weekend I attended a University women’s basketball game. One of the star players father was present. Throughout the game you could hear him call shots, encouraging the girls to play harder or rebound more. He knew the names of all the girls on the team. He clapped loudly and unapologetically. Once or twice I caught his daughter quickly flash a smile his way. Yes he was proud and yes, he was African-American.

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