The Black male image has been under assault for multiple generations. Whether in the news media, movies and even music, Black men are consistently portrayed as inherently lazy, violent, overly aggressive and unintelligent. While these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth, this kind of imagery has ultimately worked to devalue both Black men and boys.
When it comes to fatherhood, these same lazy and uninformed tropes are used to paint the picture that Black men don’t want to take responsibility for their children and have no desire to be involved in the lives of their sons and daughters. While this may be true in some cases, this is once again an overwhelmingly false notion used to paint Black men in a negative light.
It’s no secret that in today’s society, Black men have to jump through hoops, hurdles and are constantly trying to prove themselves and their value to the world. However, when it comes to those men who are fathers, these obstacles are even higher and more difficult to overcome. Still, as we continue to witness the rise in Black consciousness, particularly among men, it has become more important than ever to set a new example for young boys to not only follow, but to aspire to as well. But like the overcoming of negative stereotypes ascribed to Black men, changing the narrative and getting the future generations to follow suit, is not without its challenges.
“What we have is rising opposites. There really is no middle ground. You have Black men out there who are fathers and they get the importance of that role. But then you have those who look at Black women as an escape from their own responsibility,” Dr. Rick Wallace, noted author and founder of 100 Men of Purpose, told The Final Call.
His organization is designed to help Black men achieve their rightful positions as heads of their own households and master of their God-given destiny, told The Final Call.
“I’m a firm believer that as a leader, you own the responsibility for the behavior and the performance of everyone you’re leading. So, if the people you’re leading aren’t performing, then as a leader, that’s on you,” Dr. Wallace added.
“I think that as Black men, we’re disconnected with the struggle—the pure struggle,” said Kenneth Braswell, founder and executive director of Fathers Incorporated, an organization that helps Black men understand the importance of responsible fatherhood and its positive impact on the Black community.
“We as a people, have really forgotten who we are, where our power resonates from, and that we are one, as a family. Today, Black men are so individually driven by, ‘I gotta get mine,’ and nothing more, that we don’t even think about ourselves as a collective anymore. That’s a bad thing for our culture, that’s a bad thing for our people, and that’s a bad thing for the Black family.”
One of the difficulties as it relates to both Black manhood and fatherhood, is the constant attack that men are under. Whether it be as a result of drugs, violence or mass incarceration, these things have not only been normalized within the Black community, but embraced and accepted as the Black way of life and the behaviors that “real men” should somehow take part in.
The impact that this has had on both the community and the children in it, can only be described in one word: poisonous. Black communities are shells of what they once were, and by extension, so are the people in them because there are not more positive images of Black men in the role of fathers.
“In the mid-80s and early 90s, Bill Cosby was a display of good, quality Black fatherhood,” said Dr. Wesley Muhammad, a student minister in the Nation of Islam and author of “Understanding the Assault on the Black Man, Black Manhood and Black Masculinity.”
“He wasn’t a disempowering figure, nor was he a tyrant in the home. Bill Cosby, in his day, presented a very wholesome picture of Black fatherhood. But today, Bill Cosby is presented as a villain in society and if you ask young Black people today to name a Black father on television or in the media, they will probably name Lucious Lyons on the show Empire. But that character is hated by his children, the women in his life, and he’s not a good paternal role model at all. So, Black fatherhood has become villainized through today’s media portrayals,” said Dr. Wesley Muhammad.