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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Father’s Day facts: Black fathers show up

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We’ve heard it time and time again. Black fathers are not there for their children. This has come to be the default explanation for so many of the issues that arise in the Black community. But, is it true?

Yes, incarceration and underemployment rates are higher for Black men which may explain some of the lack of involvement and financial contribution. These are just two of the many real obstacles to Black fatherhood. Yet, there is evidence that demonstrates Black fathers are a big part of their family’s lives.

In no way would I discount anyone’s lived experience. Your relationship or lack of relationship with your father is your own. Each of us has a story about how our fathers were or were not a part of our lives.

If we look at the data, most Black fathers are playing a major part in their children’s lives. The numbers prove it.

Despite the myths that persist, a study by the Centers for Disease Control conducted in 2013 proved that Black fathers are, in fact, showing up for their children. Black fathers were the most likely to be involved with their children’s daily activities including bathing, dressing, diapering and toilet training. The study also showed that Black fathers were among the highest across races to help with homework and spend quality time with their children multiple times per week.

In ways that matter, Black fathers are, by and large, showing up for their children.

A group of fathers in Louisiana united to form ‘Dads on Duty’ in 2021. The group came together to help reduce the increasing violence that students were experiencing at Southwood High School in Shreveport. After more than 20 fights had occurred in the school, the fathers wanted to see how they could help. They began showing up to make their presence known throughout the hallways of the school. Instead of ruling with an iron fist, the group connected with the students through dad jokes and words of encouragement. The violence in the school dropped immediately.

Because showing up makes a difference.

At Flat Shoals Elementary School in Atlanta, more than 60 fathers showed up on the first day of school to greet the students as they entered the building in 2016. The school’s principal, Laconduas Freeman, wanted fathers on site to emphasize the importance of education. Having supportive male figures in the education space, where Black males are a rare sighting, makes an impact. The fathers were there to help the students feel enthusiastic about the upcoming school year. It worked. Then the trend took on a life of its own. Fathers across the country were invited to greet students on the first day of school.

They knew that showing up made a difference.

While nearly 70% of Black children are born to non-married parents, “many black fathers continue to parent through cohabitation and visitation, providing caretaking, financial, and in-kind support,” according to a study available at fatherhood.gov. So even if they were not married or in the home, they were still involved in their children’s lives in significant ways.

Whether or not a father knows how to bait a hook, change the oil, fire up the grill or coach little league, showing up makes a difference. If nothing else, it lets the child know how much they matter.

Even when the diaper is backward or the meatloaf he made for dinner is suspicious, the fact that dad is showing up remains. That’s what counts.

I look around at all the Black fathers I know who are proud of their families and work to make sure their children are cared for and happy. Some are in the home and some are a phone call away. In either case, they are disproving the absentee father myth.

This Father’s Day, I salute all the fathers, dads, daddies, bonus dads, stepdads, father-in-laws, pops, papas, grandfathers and father figures who show up day in and day out to help lead the way.

Contact Editor-in-Chief Camike Jones at CamikeJ@indyrecorder.com or 317-762-7850. For more information courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here.

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