What would happen if we listened to Black fathers instead of constantly asking where they were?
That was the premise of a video I curated after realizing that we very rarely hear Black men talk about their experiences in fatherhood and parenting.
As the founder of mater mea, a platform for Black moms, I know there are safe spaces for Black women to talk about motherhood. But do Black dads have that? And are Black dads allowed to talk about fatherhood without first addressing the absent Black father myth?
When I thought about it, I couldn’t recall seeing Black men talk about fatherhood without first acknowledging that bogeyman. I heard the stereotype referenced in barber shops, television shows, online forums, tweets…
“I’m not that,” Black men so often feel like they have to say — whether outright or by virtue of their actions. “I’m different.”
The absent Black dad stereotype has been debunked: Black fathers are more likely to be a part of their children’s lives and care compared to fathers of other races, regardless of whether or not they live with their kids, according to a 2013 CDC study.
But when you’re so used to explaining who you aren’t, you rarely get a chance to examine who you are. You don’t really get to be seen.
That’s why I created “Black Dads: Beyond Present.” The video showcases four men — Air Force pilot Dedrian McNulty, assistant professor of sociology Cameron Herman, photographer Ike Haynes, and senior marketing manager Julian Johnson — who talk about how they found out they were going to be dads, their experiences building community, and figuring out how to parent in a way that’s different from how they were raised.
So this is what happens when you stop asking where Black dads are and listen to them instead:
- You hear a man share what experiencing pregnancy loss is like from his perspective
- You hear how fatherhood shifted their ideas of masculinity
- You hear how being a dad expanded the way they view the world and their wives
- You hear men encourage and support an expecting dad who has no idea what’s about to happen but can’t wait for that life-changing moment
You’ll see four amazing men who are the norm and not the exception.
That’s what happens when we move out of the shadow of stereotypes. We all feel more seen.
Watch “Black Dads: Beyond Present” on YouTube, leave a comment, and tell me what you think!