Written by Penelope Farthing
For many black people, Father’s Day is a tough day to deal with. Whether their father was absent their whole life, or was present, but wasn’t a good dad, or the images of other people celebrating the good dads that they were blessed with triggers them, the third Sunday in June can rehash a lot of feelings. But since dads are getting all the attention today, I will call out eight ways black fathers fail their children, just like I did last month for black mothers.
If you ask a random person (black or otherwise) what black dads are known for, you’d get a variety of responses, good and bad. One response you might hear a lot of would concern their chronic absenteeism. Whether the absenteeism is simply because he chucked up the deuces and left, or because he was charged with a crime and went to jail, this absenteeism leads to a large number of fatherless children in the home.
The absenteeism is so common amongst black dads leads to downfalls aplenty, not just in their own bloodline, but in the community at large, which I will touch on shortly. When black women complain about it in YouTube comment sections, social media pages, or gossip websites, it’s met with “NOT ALL BLACK MEN!” or “whataboutisms”. But when the white man takes notice and seeks to make a profit, or makes a joke about it, only then is it a problem (like the Baby Daddy card from Father’s Day last year featuring a black couple).
Fathers need to play an active role in their children’s lives, whether or not the relationship with the mother has soured. Not because you have moved on to the next one gives you the right to abandon your kids. Not because you dropped off a new pair of sneakers last weekend or show up to an after school activity every few weeks means you’re doing your job as a father.
Last year, a couple bums got together and hosted a Fathers Against Child Support event, complete with free seafood, free liquor and $2 jello shots.
Rather frequently I see screenshots online of black men publicly decrying how horrible their baby mamas were to put them on child support. Sometimes they will enlist their latest baby mama’s help in publicly shaming the prior baby mama for demanding money to care for the child he helped sire. Memes have been created to emphasize the distaste for paying child support, and spread around the world, with no regard as to how that paints them in a bad light.
There are deadbeat dads in every race, but black men play the deadbeat role the loudest, making excuses as to why they can’t pay. You know what’s thousands of dollars cheaper than child support? Abstinence. Condoms. A vasectomy. It’s one thing to have a whoopsie baby and accept the struggles that result from poor family planning with a wife, it’s another thing entirely to bust an unprotected nut in someone you’re not married to, and turn around and complain on social media that you are expected to monetarily take care of a child you had a 50% role in creating.
In almost every online conversation about the state of the black community, mention will be made of the out of wedlock statistic that is inching ever closer to 80%. Of course, this lax attitude to birthing bastards needs to change. And it is the fault of both black women who get pregnant without the benefit of marriage, and black men who impregnate one woman and move on to their next conquest. As the hoteps like to say, communities are built on intact black families, which would start by getting that “piece of paper” that marriage signifies. This is a two-party problem, but really, men do the proposing across the board. Fathers fail their children by being baby daddy to the mother of their children, rather than husband.
So, baby daddy didn’t marry baby mama despite doing husband & wife things (siring children), bailed on his family (absenteeism), and complains on social media about his pay taking a hit because the system had to step in to demand a monetary contribution to feed, house, and clothe his kids. What does all this show? It sets a terrible example for other black men, especially the young, impressionable ones, and shows that any measly effort will be accepted in the mating market and approach women with those ideas in mind. As children, they may witness other families, intact with both parents, and wonder why they didn’t have that. If it’s a black little girl navigating life in the absence of her dad, she may end up choosing the same ain’t shit bum archetype of man her mother did, and make her same mistakes (because dad wasn’t around to show her what a good black man is, and mom was too busy trying to survive rather than imparting wisdom in mate selection). Thus, the cycle continues.
If it’s a black little boy being raised by a single mother (because, honestly, it seems it only matters what fathers are absent in their sons’ lives, not their daughters’…), the pendulum could swing one of two ways: he may see how his mother struggled and vow that any woman in his life will not suffer the same fate, or, he may see that his mom struggled and made $1 out of 15¢, and since his mom worked hard and “he turned out okay”, he then pursues romantic relationships and wouldn’t dream of supporting a stay-at-home mom as a wife because his mom did just fine all by herself. This poor example setting leads to the erroneous belief that the bare minimum is an acceptable approach, and thus, again, the cycle continues.
As I said previously, a large percentage of black children are born out of wedlock. In many conversations about this unflattering truth, many place the blame entirely on the women who have these children, avoiding or ignoring the fact that it takes two to make a baby. A man could theoretically impregnate one woman a day for a year if he really wanted to, from puberty to his death. Women can carry a total of one baby to term (or more if it’s a multiple birth) per year, relatively safely, for about two decades, give or take. Why then is so much heat put on the women?
Birth control methods are much easier for men to use, and in many places, condoms are free. Black men play a large role in all the fatherless children in the States because they let their penises run wild.
Take for instance this guy, Mykal Coles, who has fathered 26 children with five different women. He’s married to one wife, and common law married to another, and has three bonus baby mamas too.
You cannot convince me that each of those children is getting the necessary attention and edification they need, especially not on Mykal’s “actor, music producer, and private police captain” salary. I would wager that the older children are shouldering a lot of the burden with care for the younger kids too, effectively robbing them of a childhood. See how two younger kids are being held by two older ones? One even looks to be a newborn. Hurray for black love, I guess.
It boggles the mind that black men, who have proven themselves to be collectively pretty indifferent to marriage, against child support, and opposed to condoms, simultaneously reproduce with such reckless abandon. Culture plays a role as well, as it is viewed that sowing wild oats all over the place is a sign of masculinity and virility, but no mention is made of the cultivating and harvesting of said wild oats when they get here.
It seems like every other week there is some horrible news story reporting on a horrible fate that has befallen another black child, many times at the hands of black men. Where are the fathers? I don’t know, maybe they are around, maybe not. But it seems that the abuse goes unchecked by the men (and the women, which I covered last month). I’m not saying people should go all vigilante justice and fill the streets with chaos and retribution, but cutting off contact with males suspected or convicted of abuse would go a long way. The men are supposed to be the defenders, especially of those who cannot defend themselves. On social media, if harm comes to a child at the hands of a black man, there will be other black men (and women) offering up excuses or even blaming the victim. If you let your homeboy or your cousin play X-Box at your house after being accused or convicted of a heinous act against a child, the only person you are supporting is the perpetrator, not the victim. It just shows that an abuser can do something foul and still have somewhere soft to land once the smoke clears.
Without a doubt in my mind, there will be comments saying either “I had a good black dad!” or “my husband is a good black dad”, or stating that the mother should not have opened her legs to a man with the capacity to be a deadbeat. For those who have/had great black dads, this is the day to celebrate them, in fact, celebrate them daily and twice on the weekend, because if you look around, Good Black Dads are becoming the exception, not the rule. How many people have to complain about the ain’t shit daddy/baby daddy problem before you think “Hmm, maybe this is an issue”…because it is. For all the praises being sung of the good dads, it will sadly be drowned out by the bad ones. But what are the good dads doing to counteract the stereotype? When black women get pinned with the baby mama stereotype, we all get to bear that shame. But people in their respective camps are doing what they can to combat said stereotype; for instance, this blog originated No Wedding No Womb. What are black men doing to prevent the further sullying of their image at the table of fathers? The odd social media page uplifting the good ones is a start, but is there any widespread movement telling black men to marry before fathering children, to stop having children with multiple women, or telling them that the “law” or the “system” should not be the thing forcing them to pull their weight? If there is a movement let me know and I will post it in this blog to direct some press their way.
I mentioned this before in the Mother’s Day blog, but it bears repeating. Men typically die younger than women, and more frequently engage in riskier, potentially life ending behaviors. Why not set your family up for success by setting up some life insurance for your inevitable end? Just like family planning, black men seem to have an allergy to estate planning as well, leaving their family to fight expensive legal battles that drastically reduces how much the family actually gets, or to struggle to get money together for a funeral because no plans were made ahead of time. When it comes to black men of means, they may take steps towards planning for the end, but the documentation is so riddled with issues it doesn’t hold up. Some recent examples include John Singleton, whose will was last updated in 1993, or Nipsey Hussle, who didn’t have a will at all.
This is not a phenomenon unique to black men, but with all the complaints that they don’t have generational wealth, which is a big reason cited for black male economic failure, you’d think they would be running out in droves to do whatever they could to secure their heirs.
To those who were fortunate enough to have good dads, celebrate their positive contribution to your life and drop one of your favorite memories of him in the comments. Please know that I recognize that there are great black dads out there; this blog is not intended for them. However, their numbers are small and don’t seem to be improving. This post is intended to draw attention to those poor behaviors, and also to serve as a list of things women should consider when choosing a mate to potentially start a family with. Is there anything I missed? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.