Mythbusters: The Absent Black Father

April 28, 2014  |  

Hi, we’re here! Black fathers – is the “we” I’m referring to. No, not all of us our absent.

I know the media would have you believe we are a dissolving epidemic, but facts show otherwise.

We’re here and showing up a lot more (even more) than our counterparts!

What facts you ask? You may not be keeping track of the Center for Disease Control (it’s okay, most aren’t). But, I did read a LA Times article that made the data a lot more tangible – and guess what it revealed?

Compared to fathers of Latino and Caucasian descent, the survey states black fathers-living with and without their children-are more present in their children’s lives under five. Only in the category of “Playing with children daily” did black fathers come in second to white fathers (by .5%).

What’s even more? In the lives of children ages 5-18, black fathers still showed a higher percentage in every statistical category with the exception of eating meals with their children daily.


Other interesting finds – more than two-thirds of black fathers who do not live with their children see their child at least once a month compared to white (59%) and Latino fathers (32%); a statistically significant difference. The study also shows that we place just as much emphasis on providing support, stability, and discipline. Black fathers are also more likely to believe that it is important to provide financially for their kids (Surprised? Don’t be.)

So, what does this information mean?

Fathers of the majority of Americans are present in their children’s lives. However, the stereotype often portrayed and believed to be fact is that black fathers are not present. I got my psychology degree from Morehouse College, where we learned and saw for ourselves that most research about black men is done from a negative standpoint and is seldom from a deductive point of view.

We’re often portrayed as absentee fathers in which more of us go to jail than college (those statistics are also false). It is a sigh of relief and exoneration for something that black males have known all along.

As a single father, I appreciate this kind of research.

My mother used to tell me all the time, as a child, that everywhere I go I represent my race. When I am out with my daughter and/or nephew and it is just the three of us onlookers gaze as if I am a unicorn. Because more often than not black fathers are perceived and portrayed as if we are some kind of mythical creatures. I feel like I am representing all good black fathers everywhere. We exist. We’re around much more than you think. I’m just one of the fortunate ones who gets to see my daughter every day.

The media often portrays us as men who do not take care of our responsibility. We spend more time in the club or chasing women than taking care of the ones we have. Now that information like these surveys by the CDC are more widely available, I feel it is our obligation to share this information.

The only way to debunk a stereotype is to counter it with valid information.

This is a great start.

What are your thoughts? Did you believe the hype?


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