The Myth of the ‘Missing Black Father’

There is a stigma associated with black fathers not being present in their children lives. They’re considered to be “deadbeat dads.” While this is true in some cases, it’s not the case for every black father out there. Some of these men are voluntarily not in the lives of their children due to their immaturity or whatever their reason may be, but this is not true for every man. Society pushes these labels on black fathers and forces them all to fit under this one stereotype. This stereotype is represented everywhere from the shows we watch to the music we listen to, so we tend to ignore the fact that outside forces affect our black fathers. We ignore these outside forces because many of us don’t know about them, and the media doesn’t show them to us.

Inline image 3Single Black Mom

The fact that the media acts like black fathers are the answer to every problem in the black community is a problem within itself. Not every black person who is involved in illegal activities is lacking a father or a father figure in their life, and the black community not being as united as it could be isn’t going to be solved by everyone having a father. The real issues in the black community cannot be solved by having more fathers, but it could be solved by decriminalizing being black in America.

A major outside factor that affects not only black fathers, but also black men in general, is mass incarceration. Many black families are broken up due to the fathers being imprisoned, and then they’re affected by the aftermath of being released from prison. They can only be affected by the aftermath of being released if they are ever released from prison. Mass incarceration combined with mandatory sentencing takes away a big portion of our black men. The system plays a big part in the “missing black father” myth because not every man is missing voluntarily as it is portrayed. According to The New York Times, one in twelve black men between the ages of 25-54 are behind bars, and that is a huge portion of the men in our community.

There’s also the fact that the death rate of black males is high.

They are murdered for simply being black, and if they’re dead, then how are they supposed to be in their child’s life? Black men have to face a lot of problems already, yet they’re there for their children. Not only do they sometimes face issues within their own community, but they also have to face the heavy discrimination in the outside world. Black fathers are not the only race with missing fathers, yet they are the only race who has it broadcasted and made it into a stereotype.

The system takes away our black fathers and, then, blames these same black men for the issues wrong with the black community.

A black father will not prevent the killing of black men by white officers nor will it fix the discriminatory ways of people who see black people as a danger. Black men cannot fix everything wrong with the community by being there. If the system stopped trying to take them down, then maybe they’d have a chance to be a better father than the father they had or didn’t have.

Inline image 2Black Father on Father's Day

In 2013, a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) report proved that black fathers were more active in their children’s lives over every other racial group. This proves that just because a black woman is not married when she has a child that the child will be fatherless, and it also shows that a black man doesn’t have to be living in the same house as his children to be an active father. There’s also another statistic that states 2.5 million black men live with their children while 1.7 million do not. This shows that just because a black couple isn’t married that doesn’t mean they are not in the same house co-parenting when it comes to raising their children.

The myth about the “missing black father” is just that. It’s a myth that shouldn’t be circulated or believed because it is not as true as the media tries to make it. A father doesn’t have to live in the same house as his child to be a father, and a woman can be unmarried while having a child and still have the child involved with their father. This myth doesn’t take into consideration how many black men are affected by mass incarceration and how many are murdered.

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Kelisha Trice

Kelisha Trice is a student at North Carolina A&T State University majoring in English with a concentration in African American Literature.

Kelisha Trice

Kelisha Trice is a student at North Carolina A&T State University majoring in English with a concentration in African American Literature.