Phenomenal Black dads are sharing their stories of fatherhood online, shifting the narrative of the "deadbeat dad."
Trigger warning: Racism, police brutality, state violence
Over the years, the idea of the "deadbeat dad" has become synonymous with the Black dad. How many times have you heard a poorly placed joke about Black children growing up fatherless? This stereotype is insidious, and it has been perpetuated to dehumanize Black fathers. Furthermore, it removes the state's role in leaving Black families fatherless—the police officers murder them, the courts jail them, and the businesses shun them. After this process of systemic discrimination, the Black father is blamed. Fortunately, good role models are finally gaining visibility. In addition to this, studies show that there is statistical evidence to change the narrative, Good Morning America reports.
These dads are changing the narrative around Black fatherhood | GMA https://t.co/p8DASnXvgu— Black diaspora Voice. (@BlackdiasporaV1) June 18, 2021
In a 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a higher percentage of Black fathers between the ages of 15 to 44 took their children to or from activities every day compared to dads of other races. However, it appears that American society is yet to adjust to this reality. While grocery shopping with his youngest daughter, Black father-of-three Sean Williams was approached by a woman who praised him for "sticking around" for his family. Ever since this incident, Williams has been committed to change society's inaccurate perception of Black fathers.
Therefore, he launched an organization named "The Dad Gang." Comprising Black fathers who want to erase the myth of the absentee father, they share positive stories of Black dads being good role models. Williams stated in an interview, "People still see Black fathers as 'missing in action' or they like to associate us as being deadbeat dads, and it's just not the truth." The organization is active on Instagram, where they work towards changing the negative perception of Black fatherhood, one post at a time. He added, "I hope we change the world and the way the world views us." The Dad Gang also hosts events to connect fathers from around the globe, so Black dads have a network of support in the absence of formal systems.
Similarly, Color Coded Voices, a digital platform that highlights positive news and outstanding stories from communities of color, is doing its bit to showcase phenomenal Black dads. Teran Trotter is one of them. When his 17-year-old son Teric Trotter walked across Clarksdale High School's stage to accept his diploma on May 22, he could not hold back his tears. Now aged 36, Trotter was just a teenager when he became a father. Many of his peers cast doubt on his abilities to be a good parent, but he is proving all his naysayers wrong. "I didn't have my biological father with me growing up, so I made a promise that my child would never have to go through the things that I went through," he shared. "My boy's success is my success. My joy comes from seeing him prosper."
Keisland Smalls is another example of a phenomenal Black dad. Although he received his degree in finance last year from Texas A&M University, he was unable to take graduation pictures because of the ongoing pandemic. He finally had the opportunity to celebrate this year and decided to bring his young son along with him. Wearing matching suits, the father-son duo posed for photos outside of his alma mater. Smalls said, "He's the root of starting this journey of what it means to be a true provider. I knew this was the best way to explain my appreciation for his presence. I got my degree to make sure that my son can have the life that he wants, with support." Williams, Trotter, and Smalls are just three dads in a growing community of amazing Black dads who are shifting the narrative. Smalls affirmed, "He gives me something to live for and I want to fully support him in anything he wants to do."