“Brothas, Go Back And Get Your Children”: Iyanla Vanzant’s Plea To Fathers And Why Some Were Resistant To It At Essence Fest

23 comments
July 10, 2013 ‐ By
Source: OWN

Source: OWN

By T. Nicollette

Dead silence. Awkward silence. Resistance.

I attended an Iyanla Vanzant conference at the 2013 Essence Festival where she spoke on various topics affecting the black community. A key message in her speech was that our community is “out of order” and that we women need to “get it together.” Her delivery was punctuated by continual, affirmative replies of “uh-huh” and “that’s right” from the audience, which not only served to fill the spaces between her words, but also advanced the momentum of her caring admonishment. Then Iyanla addressed the men:

“Brothas, go back and get your children.”

The women erupted in applause. The men largely remained silent.

Their silence was profound because it was the first time since Iyanla arrived that there wasn’t unanimous applause, laughter, or praise. Perhaps this represented nothing more than a simple lack of enthusiasm. But somewhere in the silence, I detected the distinct presence of resistance.

This was the same resistance a famous NFL player displayed when he appeared on a national television talk show to rationalize why he refused to support his four children—all by four different mothers—emotionally, mentally or financially.
It was the same resistance my mother encountered when she asked my father if he would continue to support his children after their divorce and he flat-out told her “no.”
It was also the same resistance Bill Cosby encountered when he had the “audacity” to plainly state that blacks can no longer blame whites or anyone else for the overabundance of single-parent households, achievement gaps, etc., within our community.

To me, the silence exposed a resistance to taking responsibility.

Iyanla made it clear that she was not blaming us for the problems that exist. But if conditions continue to decline, at some point we as a people WILL be to blame. Why? Because when you know better, you do better. This adage is built upon the principle that with knowledge comes great responsibility. We know better. Therefore, it is our responsibility to do better in order to advance ourselves, our children, and our people as a whole. Getting back in order is going to take a lot of work, and for some, the first step in this process will be to move beyond resistance to change. Our children are counting on us.

The topic of absent fathers is trending in black media across various platforms, including on the OWN network. This is a great opportunity for would-be supportive, responsible fathers to become engaged in the conversation and get started on a path of understanding, growth and change. I just hope resistance doesn’t get in the way.

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  • Pingback: Iyanla Calls Black Women Out

  • WHOISBSQUARED?

    …………..GURL I FELT THE SAME WAY WITH MY POPS, DA*N SHAME AINT IT?

  • purplerain

    I am in a situation where my husband fathered a child out of our marriage years ago. He supports the child financially according to the law, but that is it. The child suffers because of his poor decision making and her desire to try and trap him as well as her poor decision making. She has lied about us to the courts, she has manipulated the system, she has threatened us both with ruining our lives, and she uses that poor child as a pawn. I have 5 large binders full of court, lawyer, harassing emails, texts, and police stuff–the first 3 binders were from the first year ALONE. Yet the state won’t do anything about it. My husband has no contact and even the court officials agreed that for the good of the child he should stay away. $15,000 in lawyer fees and an obscene amount of child support is what our family has lost to this situation. I say this to show that it’s not always the father’s fault. We just cannot afford another court date, the risk to our careers because of her lies, and more lawyer fees when we live in a state that is very pro-mother. This happens and the system pushes men away by taking away a lot of their rights and only focusing on the money. Women have got to step up and allow men to be fathers as well.

  • Lynn

    >>a famous NFL player displayed when he appeared on a national television talk show to rationalize why he refused to support his four children

    Who is this?

    • nooyawkgrrl

      I interpreted this as a reference to Terrell Owens’ appearance on “Dr. Phil.”

  • KeepingItReal

    It’s not about race it’s about character. Many of these so-called mothers are to blame. They intentionally get pregnant by men who are not…nor will ever be available. I’ve seen it many times…women are attracted to men who are currently in a relationship with another woman. The think it’s a challenge, etc. Yet, if they see a brother who is single…something must be wrong with him. The fact is…men who will cheat on their current wife or gf to be with you was never really yours. And, they owe neither you nor the baby they created anything. Being a father is being present and no one can be more than one place at a time. Women you chose the life of fatherless child when you knowingly deal with men you cannot have. Deal with it.

    • IJS

      You were doing good until you said the men don’t owe the baby they created anything.

      • KeepingItReal

        Lol…. The reality is….being a father means being present…day in and day out. A man can only be one place at a time. If you knew your baby father had several baby mammas before you hooked up…any child you have with him will be at a disadvantage because they are competing for time. The man should know better but the women should, too. Women need to stop acting like victims as if they had no role to play in their kids not having a father. The women have the power to mitigate this madness. Many just chose not to…just saying

  • kierah

    I met my husband when he was 35. He had only seen his dad twice in his life at that point, age 4 and age 18. He said age 18 was a very awkward encounter that he didn’t care to repeat. His dad kept trying. He would call every now and then.
    One night his dad called and said he would be in the area. He asked to meet. My DH took a deep breath and said yes. My DH asked me to go with him and we spent a few hours hanging out. Since then, my FIL has spent some holidays with us and spent nights in our home. DH and his father have a relationship now.
    It must have been very scary for my FIL to keep reaching out to his son although he knew he didn’t deserve a chance to know him. It was scary for my husband to let his father in his life again. Renewing the relationship has been a blessing for them both.
    Men, please don’t be afraid to reach out and claim your children. They may be older, but they still need you. It may take time, but it is worth the effort.

  • Kam

    When I met my husband and found out he had a kid I had no desire to deal with him. But as we became friends and I witnessed the passion he had for being an involved dad that was one of the things that made me fall in love with him. My requirement has always been never deal with a man who has kids that he doesn’t spend time with, or support emotionally or financially because if you have a kid by him what would make your child any different than the other(s) one? Regardless of how you feel about your childs other parent you should ALWAYS make the time for your child.

  • Kam

    When I met my husband and found out he had a kid I had no desire to deal with him. But as we became friends and I witnessed the passion he had for being an involved dad that was one of the things that made me fall in love with him. My requirement has always been never deal with a man who has kids that he doesn’t spend time with, or support emotionally or financially because if you have a kid by him what would make your child any different than the other(s) one? Regardless of how you feel about your childs other parent you should ALWAYS make the time for your child.

    • Tehani

      “My requirement has always been never deal with a man who has kids that he doesn’t spend time with, or support emotionally or financially because if you have a kid by him what would make your child any different than the other(s) one?”

      Some men go on to be great fathers to the child(ren) of their second family, because they feel guilty for being a poor father to the child(ren) of their first family. Unfortunately, this does nothing for the children who got the short end of the stick. It seems that most men will treat their children based on how they feel about the mother or they simply just never connected with their children.

      • guest

        Not to mention that some of these fathers want to pop up in their kids’ lives AFTER they becomes adults. These fathers weren’t around to rear them during childhood and their early stages of adolescent, which is where children need guidance the most. It’s like they want to skip out on the difficult parts of parenthood and then comes around wanting to establish a relationship when the hard part is over, or most likely to ease their own conscious. To me it’s like “don’t bother”? If we were good without ya, we still good without ya bruh.

        • Tehani

          Or the father expects the hurt children to be ‘nice’ to him and not have to deal with his mistakes. The pain of having a parent who doesn’t seem to have any regard for you lasts a lifetime.

  • Clarke

    As a 19 Year Old Black male, this is what I have to say:

    This “Absent Black Father” case is not a myth. Propagandist and melodramatic it may be, to an extent and depending on who the information comes from, but there is, absolute, high truth to it.

    There is no longer a need for dire predictions, hand-wringing, or apprehension about losing a generation of Black boys. It is too late. In education, employment, economics, incarceration, health, housing, and parenting, we have lost a generation of young Black men. The question that remains is will we lose the next two or three generations, or possibly every generation of Black boys hereafter to the streets, negative media, gangs, drugs, poor education, unemployment, father absence, crime, violence and death.

    Most young Black men in the United States don’t graduate from high school. Only 35% of Black male students graduated from high school in Chicago and only 26% in New York City, according to a 2006 report by The Schott Foundation for Public Education. Only a few black boys who finish high school actually attend college, and of those few Black boys who enter college, nationally, only 22% of them finish college.

    Young Black male students have the worst grades, the lowest test scores, and the highest dropout rates of all students in the country. When these young Black men don’t succeed in school, they are much more likely to succeed in the nation’s criminal justice and penitentiary system. And it was discovered recently that even when a young Black man graduates from a U.S. college, there is a good chance that he is from Africa, the Caribbean or Europe, and not the United States.

    Black men in prison in America have become as American as apple pie. There are more Black men in prisons and jails in the United States (about 1.1 million) than there are Black men incarcerated in the rest of the world combined. This criminalization process now starts in elementary schools with Black male children as young as six and seven years old being arrested in staggering numbers according to a 2009 report, Education on Lockdown by the Advancement Project.

    The rest of the world is watching and following the lead of America. Other countries including England, Canada, Jamaica, Brazil and South Africa are adopting American social policies that encourage the incarceration and destruction of young Black men. This is leading to a world-wide catastrophe. But still, there is no adequate response from the American or global Black community.

    Worst of all is the passivity, neglect and disengagement of the Black community concerning the future of our Black boys. We do little while the future lives of Black boys are being destroyed in record numbers. The schools that Black boys attend prepare them with skills that will make them obsolete before, and if, they graduate. In a strange and perverse way, the Black community, itself, has started to wage a kind of war against young Black men and has become part of this destructive process.

    Who are young Black women going to marry? Who is going to build and maintain the economies of Black communities? Who is going to anchor strong families in the Black community? Who will young Black Boys emulate as they grow into men? Where is the outrage of the Black community at the destruction of its Black boys? Where are the plans and the supportive actions to change this? Is this the beginning of the end of the Black people in America?

    • Sasha

      O*M*G!!!

      You told nothing but the truth. You’re 19? Boy… You’ve got me sitting her thinking and I’m a 39 y/o Woman. We need forward thinking Black Men like you. Wow. God Bless you sweetheart…

    • pinkee

      Thank you for such a wonderful piece. Well said. I, like you am outraged about our black youth, especially the black men. If ppl can march when there is a white killing a black or an uprising when a cop kills a black why not have an uprising about what’s going on the black community. We need ppl like beyonce, Jay z, puff daddy, oprah, etc other black influential ppl to rally, go to the neighborhoods. do what we did to get the first black president in office. Do what it take. do these successful black ppl really care. Probably not as long as long as it’s not affecting them.

    • pinkee

      So proud of you. Maybe there is some hope after all.

  • Haa Haa

    It is really sad the high number of kids that don’t have the dad present. When I was single I did not date dads. You would be surprised how many guys would say they have kids but I don’t see them like that would sound good to me. This is a decades old problem and I really don’t see it being solved anytime soon. I don’t have kids and never will because nothing is guaranteed and I refuse to do it alone.

  • Tehani

    I don’t feel sorry for any woman who chooses to deal with Black men romantically when there is so much better out there.

    • Nikia D-Shiznit

      I don’t know if that is a fair statement. Even though I am with a white man, I would never down black men, or hate black men in order to love the man I’m with. I haven’t dated all black men to agree with such a statement, but some ladies are able to find a good black man. It’s all about sifting through rubbish in order to find gold.

    • WHOISBSQUARED?

      ……………I FEEL A LIL DISCRIMINATION IN UR SENTENCE? ARE YOU ALRITE? LOL

      • NJ2

        Right!!! Its called counseling… Now she would be mad if someone lumped all black women into one category.