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To my fellow black fathers,
Firstly, I want to recognize we are a unique group of men who are strong and resilient. Despite this fact, we face many different burdens placed upon us from the society we live in today. Some of these burdens include stereotypes, beliefs, and pressure as men that are designed to tear us down. It is important to realize that we tend to tear each other down in the black community as well. This letter is something I want to share with you all as a reminder of what kind of force we can be if we unite and stand together.
As previously stated, there are certain stereotypes that people will believe of black fathers. In many movies or dialogues, it will depict us as lazy, uneducated, and thuggish. Additionally, they will show us as the type of men who wear their pants sagging and will get violent at the hint of any slight. Some believe the only way we can make money is resorting to selling drugs, playing sports, or being a rapper. Lastly, they show us to be absent fathers. We get women pregnant and leave them to the welfare system. There are jokes I have heard about little Anthony waiting for his dad to come back from the store for 10 years. It is unfortunate that those jokes continue to this day.
Personally, I know many black fathers that do not resemble those stereotypes. They are educated brothers who take care of their families. They are married and have jobs in many different industries. I associate with other black men who contribute to their communities and volunteer their time at church, youth groups, non-profit organizations, etc. These men are strong leaders. They have the emotional maturity to allow themselves to be vulnerable with those around them. In other words, I can say I am proud of these men and I will always celebrate them. If it weren’t for their support as my friends and colleagues, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I want to say that I learned some very valuable lessons from them and they have inspired me to continue to be best the version of myself.
The other elephant in the room I want to address is the fact that we see a disproportionate amount of people in the black community tear each other down. There are numerous statistics we see about black on black crime (I will acknowledge it is similar in other communities as well). I do believe that there are people who will want you to do well as long as you are not doing better than them. It is tough when you perceive someone you know is doing better than yourself and you ask yourself “why not me”? When this happens, our minds can drift to a dark place and become really down on ourselves. We can become filled with envy. I’ve been there before and I know that others have as well.
With that said, the solution I have to this issue is to focus on yourself and where you are at in your journey. A quote I like is to not compare yourself to someone else’s highlight reel. How I interpret this quote is it being important to not catch yourself up with someone else’s success. We need to focus solely on our own successes and how we can reach our goals. If someone is moving ahead, celebrate that success. Take notes of the habits this person has formed and apply that to your own life. Once you reach a certain level, pay it forward and mentor the next person. To me, I believe that these are some ways we can build up the black community and empower each other. Our children are watching us. Think about the legacy we can leave behind and change the trajectory of generations to come.
I am very proud to be black and the accomplishments that we have achieved. I would love for us to continue to advance ourselves as people. As black fathers, we cannot allow our children to be consumed by the stereotype that is placed on black people. We must uplift and celebrate each other. Allow ourselves to be vulnerable and connect with one another. If one of our brothers stumble, pick him up. I promise if we can do this, we will reach heights that have not been seen in this country by our people. It’s for the culture and we owe it to those that fought for our rights. Our parents and ancestors did everything they could to ensure we had the opportunity to get an education. Let’s pay it forward for our children and grandchildren to ensure that they have even more liberties given to them.
To demonstrate my commitment, I am teaching my daughter Spanish and allowing her the opportunity to travel. In her first year of life, she had been to more places than I had been to in my first 19 years of my life. I want to give her the world and I’ve talked about the importance of dating your daughter in this blog post right here. I know there are other fathers who want to do the same for their little ones and spouses. Maybe encourage your child to play a sport that isn’t “black”. It is a possibility your child could want to become an artist and you want to give them the outlet to do so. The opportunities are endless for our children.
I challenge you to share with everyone what are those experiences you want to do for your little ones. Do you have any parenting tips for others?
Cameron is the creator of Supportive Fathers. He created Supportive Fathers as a way to help explore topics other dads encounter in everyday life. Cameron is very passionate about being a father to 2 year old daughter as well as being the husband possible to his wife. To read more of his story, please click here.