The Myth of the Missing Black Father

Black fathers
Black father
Courtesy of Jeanne Menjoulet

One of America’s most persistent stereotypes is that Black men simply do not take care of their children. Folklore claims that they are unfit fathers and their children never feel their presence. This is all a lie; many studies show that the rates of Black fatherhood are not as the narrative portrays. This lie is so pervasive throughout the media within America, however, the facts are the facts.

So, it is time to reveal the truth about Black fatherhood in America. Let’s start with a statistic to get the ball rolling. A CDC study found that most Black fathers live with their children. The data showed that about 2.5 million Black dads live with their children with 1.7 million don’t. On Average, Black fathers who live with their children are the most involved dads of all. These statistics paint a different picture of what is generally a dark painting of Black Fatherhood. 

These aren’t the only statistics in favor of Black fathers, but this article doesn’t need to be extra-long and full of statistics. The central message is this: There are structural reasons why some Black fathers are missing like systemic racism, mass incarceration, and gun violence in Black communities. However, many Black fathers persevere through thick and thin to be there for their children. The second message is that Black fatherhood exists more than people would like to think. The structural factors should be explored to give real context to this claim.

Black father
Courtesy of Kelly Kline (Flickr CC0)

Mass incarceration has done untold damage to the Black community and people of color at large. With the 13th Amendment loophole, all the United States government had to do was come up with ways to put Black people in jail at high frequencies and keep them there for long periods. So, the CIA flooded the Black community with drugs and then heavily criminalized those very same substances. 

They set the Black community up to fail and made sure to highly politicize and dehumanize the very existence of Black people. All so no one would scream, holler, or protest when the American government sent Black men away in droves. Except for the Black community itself which had become demonized and characterized as angry, lazy, and dangerous. America likes to create control and reinvent narratives to make sure its populace’s idea of something lines right up with the American state’s conception of the same thing. This has devastating impacts on the Black community at large and has impacted the legacy of Black fatherhood even to this day.

If they weren’t set up by the government to be taken in for slave labor, they end up dying at the hands of another Black man trying to survive the racialized capitalist hellscape people call “the hood”. Imagine for a second an environment where the job opportunities are much lower, the schools are underfunded, and there is a lack of accessible healthy food for miles. The air was noticeably worse, the police drove through the community as if they were prison guards, where there is lead poisoning in the homes, and the drug trade may be the only way to make money. Some people don’t have to imagine this environment. Because they live in it, every single day. People die on their way to work, children die walking home from school, and some of the elderly die by just sitting on their porch.

 That is how bad gun violence is in some places. People that were not intended to be the target die anyway because of a stray bullet. Many Black men die this way, a lot of them happen to be fathers. However some, because of a lack of state investment, have no choice but to engage in the drug trade. Many people die trying to maintain and expand drug territory, some of these are fathers that had no other choice. It is hard to get a job after you have been to jail, and there is already a negative racial bias when it comes to Black people and jobs. Some Black fathers end up meeting an early grave because of the condition and consequences of the economic environment. However, there is another way that a lot of Black men have been targeted.

Within the last decade, American policing has come over harsh criticism for the racial bias within their organization. It is safe to say the Black men and the police simply have never had a great relationship. The reason is that a lot of cops are simply just racist. They target Black men and execute them with no remorse. American cops have no accountability structures, and if they do, they are heavily underfunded. If an American cop kills someone, if the trial isn’t publicized, they will get paid leave. After that, they can simply just join another district and do the same thing all over again. For example, the CIA in the early 2000s said that white supremacist organizations have heavily infiltrated many districts of American policing. Black fathers could again be killed by a racist police officer while trying to get back to their families. It happens all the time. There are walls full of names at this point. 

Of course, there is a minority of Black men who simply just didn’t take responsibility for their children. This is a minority of men that exists in all racial lines. It cannot be understated how the previously explained factors impact the likelihood of a Black father being able to be there for their child. It is hard living as a Black man, even harder to exist as a Black father. Yet, there are so many that pull through for their children. Whether in single-parent households, co-parenting in separate households, or a two-parent household. Black fathers everywhere are persevering through all types of variables to be there for their children. This narrative that Black men are just lazy unfit deadbeats needs to end.

Written by Kenneth Mazerat
Edited by Sheena Robertson

Sources:

HuffPost: No, Most Black Kids Are Not Fatherless by: Josh Levs

HuffPost: Key Figures In CIA-Crack Cocaine Scandal Begin To Come Forward by: Ryan Grim ,Matt Sledge andMatt Ferner

Democracy Guardian: The Loophole in the 13th Amendment. Why Slavery Still Exists Today by WIlliam Spivey

PBS: How hair discrimination impacts Black Americans in their personal lives and the workplace by: Yamiche Alcindor, Rachel Wellford, Bria LLoyd, and Candice Norwood

Just security: White Supremacist Infiltration of US Police Forces: Fact-Checking National Security Advisor O’Brien by: Danielle Schulkin

Economics Dartmouth: Racial Bias in Policing by Elaine Mei

HuffPost: 5 Lies We Should Stop Telling About Black Fatherhood by Danielle Cadet

Scholarly-Commons-Law-Northwestern: James Edward McKeown, Poverty, Race and Crime, 39 J. Crim. L. & Criminology 480 (1948-1949)

Featured and Top Image Courtesy Jeanne Menjoulet Flickr page- Creative Commons License

Inset Image Courtesy of Kelly Kline Flickr page- Creative Commons License

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *