For centuries, Black people's images have been ruined. From the angry Black woman to the uncontrollable Black child, millions of people believe these stereotypes are our realities. Sometimes, even Black people believe these stereotypes. All these pseudo-personas harm us as individuals and a community, but there is one stereotype that never fails to keep us from progress: the Black father stereotype. This stereotype affects fathers, mothers and children, also known as the entire Black community. So why did racism and white supremacy give such an impacting stereotype to Black fathers?
Let me first explain what the Black father stereotype is. The stereotype is that there is no Black father. This racist belief and "joke" thinks that black children only have their mothers at home to raise them because their father is a walk out or deadbeat. So why and how did this stereotype come to be?
In many early traditions and cultures, wives were subservient to their husbands and the father was solely the head of the family. For many African cultures, this was not the case because the men valued the female presence and authority within the community. Men had to prove themselves to be capable of loving and protecting their wives and future children. This caused many African civilizations to have loving and dependent relationships with their families. Because of this, slave owners separated African fathers from their families when they first began the horrific history of slavery. Even though this is heart wrenching already, slave owners began a new procedure to dismantle Black slave families in America.
If they were not force breeding a male and female slave, they would continuously set one male and female slave together until they developed romantic feelings for each other. These romantic feelings would lead to marriage ("jumping the broom") and children. Once the father and mother developed a little bit of hope and happiness because of their family and love, the slave masters would then separate the father from his family and take him to a new place of slavery or sale him to a new owner. This resulted in the mother to become depressed and build emotional walls to other men trying to pursue her. The slave master would lie to the children and say that their father deserted them because he was incapable of being a good father, resulting in abandonment issues and complete dependence of the mother.
With all these members of the typical Black family separated and emotionally scarred, it became difficult for the Black community to piece itself back together, especially during slavery. The Black father stereotype is not only racist, but ignorant on what the Black community endured for years.
The missing Black father stereotype causes extreme misrepresentation of Black men. People think black fathers are either not involved with their family or no help to their family at all. This is completely false. In fact, Black fathers are more involved in their children's lives than white and Hispanic fathers.
A CDC study surveyed over 3,900 fathers between 2006 and 2010 and found that Black fathers were more likely to bathe, dress, play and dine with their children as compared to their White and Hispanic counterparts. - Charles M. Blow, NYTimes.com
Not only do Black fathers play with their children more than any other father, they are more likely to care and teach their children. We need to understand that the media does not always display the truth. If it did, then I would not be writing this article. In order for us to have proper representation of ourselves, we must showcase proper representation. Reading articles and books about black fatherhood and supporting our own representation will lead us to the truth and only the truth.
For Us By Us is a famous expression the Black community has been using for clothes, entertainment, and more. Meaning that what we make by us is exactly for us. Our shows and movies do not have stereotypical Black characters, but Black characters with depth and core. Shows like "Black-ish" and "Insecure" have characters that are examples of this. So if these successful shows are by Black people and it's main audience is Black people, then this proves that we have potential to make more shows with Black families where the father is more than just a bum or selfish or not present.
Black Fathers are Important because...
Because they are there for their children.
Because they do support and love their families.
Because they go above and beyond just because they can.
Black fathers prove that the stereotype that hinders them is nothing but fiction. But society and many Black people fail to see this. We, as the Black community, need to let others know that our fathers are still here. We need to learn and understand our history so that a petty stereotype does not consume our mind. We need to read and share articles that prove our men are more than capable of being fathers. We need to watch and support Black shows and movies that portray Black families in a positive light. We need to do this because we are community that must prove that our men are enough, not only to outsiders, but to us. All of us.
Leading Image Credit: Photo of the Mitchell Family