There’s a lot of talk about black fatherhood on Father’s Day. But how much of it is true?
Without a doubt, the role of fathers in society has continued to evolve. More dads are staying home with their kids, taking on more child-rearing responsibilities, and becoming more involved in their children’s lives than ever before. And while this is true for fathers of all races, it’s especially significant for black fathers, who have historically been portrayed as absent and uninvolved.
However, this outdated and harmful stereotype is far from reality. In fact, black fathers are just as involved in their children’s lives as fathers of other races—if not more.
According to a report by CDC, black fathers who live with their kids are more likely to provide physical care, be emotionally supportive, and be actively involved in their children’s daily lives than fathers of any other race.
And yet, despite all of this evidence to the contrary, the false narrative that black fathers are absent and uninvolved persists.
This harmful stereotype not only does a disservice to the countless black fathers who are doing everything they can to be present in their children’s lives, but it also perpetuates harmful racial stereotypes and further alienates black fathers from the mainstream conversation about fatherhood.
To set the record straight, here are five of the most common false narratives about black fatherhood—and the truth behind them.
#1. Black fathers are absent.
This is one of the most common—and damaging—myths about black fatherhood. The idea that black fathers are absent from their children’s lives is not only untrue, but it’s also a harmful stereotype that can have serious consequences.
A 2018 study found that black fathers who don’t live with their children are more likely to be involved in their lives than fathers of other races. They’re just as likely to visit their kids regularly, take them on outings, and help with homework—even if they don’t live under the same roof.
So why does this false narrative persist? One theory is that it’s a holdover from the days of slavery when black fathers were forcibly separated from their families. Some also use it as a tool to demonize black fathers and paint them as bad parents.
Whatever the reason, the fact remains that black fathers are just as present—if not more—in their children’s lives than fathers of any other race.
#2. Black fathers don’t care about their children.
Fatherhood speaks of a father’s love, care, and involvement in the life of his children. And while it’s true that some fathers are absent or uninvolved, this isn’t the case for all black fathers. Many black fathers are deeply committed to their children and work hard to provide them with a good life. Like fathers of other races, they want their children to be happy and successful.
The false narrative that black fathers don’t care about their children is not only harmful, but it’s also insulting. It suggests that black fathers are somehow less capable of love and care than fathers of other races, which is simply not true.
#3. Black fathers are violent.
Violence—physical or otherwise—is not limited to any one group of people. But for some reason, black fathers are often portrayed as being more violent than fathers of other races. This harmful stereotype is not only untrue, but it also does a disservice to the countless black fathers who are non-violent and loving parents.
This false narrative is often perpetuated by the media, which tends to focus on stories of black fathers who are involved in crime or violence. But what the media fails to report are the countless black fathers who are law-abiding citizens and loving parents.
#4. Black fathers are uneducated.
Between slavery and Jim Crow, black Americans have been systematically denied access to education. As a result, it’s not surprising that some black fathers are uneducated. But since the Civil Rights Movement, there has been a concerted effort to close the education gap between black and white Americans. And today, more black fathers are getting an education than ever before.
While the education gap between black and white fathers still exists, it’s important to remember that this is not due to a lack of effort on the part of black fathers.
#5. Black fathers are poor role models.
When we consider what it means to be a good father, we often think of traditional qualities like strength, wisdom, and provision. But what we fail to realize is that fathers come in all shapes and sizes—and that there is no one-size-fits-all definition of what it means to be a good father.
Black fathers are just as capable of being good role models as fathers of any other race. They’re just as likely to be involved in their children’s lives and as likely to be loving and supportive parents.
So, the next time you see a black father, don’t judge him based on harmful stereotypes. Instead, give him the same respect and admiration that you would give any other father.