“There’s so much negative imagery of black fatherhood. I’ve got tons of friends that are doing the right thing by their kids, and doing the right thing as a father – and how come that’s not as newsworthy?”
Those were the words and question posed by Willard C. Smith, better known as Will Smith from TV, film and music. He has become one of the most recognizable actors around the world. In fact, according to Forbes Magazine, he is one of the most bankable worldwide stars. In 1990, he was the leading character in the TV sitcom for NBC, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which became successful and began his acting career. Since that time, he has starred in several blockbuster movies including Ali, The Pursuit of Happyness, Independence Day, Men in Black, and Enemy of the State.
Over the years, he has been active in the lives of his children and helping to improve the outcomes of other youth through the opening of a secondary school in California. As a father, he included one son in two of his movies and one in a music video. Today, there are many black fathers who are not as famous as Will Smith, but are just as engaged in the lives of their children and other youth in the community. And it is these facts that are too often overlooked or are taken for granted.
In a recent study conducted by the US Department of Health and Human Services (2006-2010) and released on December 20, 2013, 3,900 fathers defy many of the stereotypes about black fatherhood. In essence and by most measures, the report reveals that black fathers are at least as involved with their kids as other men in similar living situations. In particular the report is called “Father’s Involvement in Their Children: United States, 2006-2010,” and it revealed that 70 percent of black dads said they bathed, diapered or dressed their kids every day, compared with 60 percent of white fathers and 45 percent of Latino fathers. In addition, nearly 35 percent of black fathers who lived with their young children stated that they read to them daily, compared with 30 percent of white and 22 percent of Latino dads.
This report is quite amazing when you consider what we see and hear about black men and black boys in our country these days. It is more remarkable especially when so many black men are in jails, prisons, on the street, homeless, lack education, are unemployed, or on drugs. I would agree with most perceptions and stereotypes that in many communities a lot of work needs to be done to help change the narrative of what is occurring, but it is not true in all cases, communities and families. The question today is how can we do a better job in promoting the positive images of Black Fathers?
Dr. Calhoun can be heard each week at the Grace Fellowship Church of Milwaukee, 3879 N. Port Washington Rd, Milwaukee, 414-265-5546, like him on Facebook, Twitter #AC53 or firstname.lastname@example.org.