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Honoring black dads



Published: Sat, June 7, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Ernie Brown

The black father.

Some in the mainstream media view that as an oxymoron.

The black man, historically has been portrayed as lazy, untrustworthy and a womanizer.

That puts a negative image on the millions of black fathers who don't fit that shameful stereotype.

I know that many homes in the black community are headed by single mothers, and several high-profile athletes and entertainers attribute their success to the efforts of either their mothers and grandmothers.

Those celebrities often say that "Daddy wasn't around" to help forge their personalities and take care of them.

But I can attest that there are many black men who are tremendous husbands and great fathers, and I want to dedicate this column to them, especially since Father's Day is just eight days away.

I am not ignoring the fact that many black men have shirked their dual responsibilities of accountability and responsibility, especially when it comes to rearing children.

The nationwide statistics on single, unwed black women are staggering and a sad testimony to what remains a nagging problem in the black community.

There are several local black men, however, who live up to their roles as fathers and providers.

Hollywood has gone a long way of perpetuating the stereotype of black men who eschew work and allow the women with whom they live to take care of them.

Does that happen? Certainly. Is that the prevalent behavior for black men? The answer is no.

Despite the comedic nature of two popular television sitcoms — "Good Times" and "The Cosby Show" — the underlying message in both was how the black husbands in those families, John Amos as James Evans Sr. and Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, were the unquestioned heads of their families.

I applaud the black men who work two jobs to make sure that food is on the table, bills are paid, and security is provided for their children and wives.

I can empathize with the thousands of black fathers who are working hard and struggling to help put their children through college.

I marvel at the energy of black fathers who volunteer their time to help coach football, basketball and other sports. My brother, Mark, for years was in that group.

I admire the black fathers who have legal custody of their children and are positive role models for their offspring.

You will find black fathers cutting the grass, taking out the trash, doing laundry, making sure their children are properly groomed, taking their children to church, and picking up their children from school.

I am tired of being lumped together under the stereotype of negativism that is associated with being a black man in this country, sadly some of it perpetuated by my own people.

It is time to say it loud and plain: Most black men are good fathers, husbands and providers. We are the norm, not the exception.

In a nation where the scourge of slavery has been the underlying cause of continued racial tensions, black men have had to overcome tremendous odds to do what is expected of any man in any country — work hard, love their wives and children, and be a positive contributor to society.

For those black men, especially those in their 20s who, for whatever reason, have abandoned their children, my message to you is do what you can to rekindle that relationship with your offspring.

It is never too late to do what is right as long as you are still breathing. I implore you to make the correct decision.

And for those black men who are caring for and nurturing their children, I say happy Father's Day, and keep on keeping on.

And to my dad, who passed away in 2004, I say thanks, Pop, for taking the time to show me how to be a good father and husband.

ebrown@vindy.com


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