Dad: the forgotten parent?
- New Black Stereotype
Now let's talk about our Daddy issues, come on we all have at least one. Better still lets talk about fatherhood, because after this weekend and if the media has its way the man who helped bring you into this world will no doubt fall back into the shadows once more.
During my childhood and that of many young, black males of my generation, the relatable faces we saw were, as we lay spread-eagled in front of the television were the likes of Will Smith (Fresh Prince of Belair), Desmond's (Barber Shop) and Bill Cosby (The Cosby Show).
From a young age I grew up without a father, he was unlawfully murdered when I was only a few months old. Male role models in our household were, unfortunately, thin on the ground. My mother had a limited support network due to migrating from Trinidad in 1969 to England, so she turned to keeping us active through extra curricular activities such as school social groups, Scouts and football summer camps.
As Father's Day approaches this weekend, I am stepping out from the 'status quo' in that we not only celebrate fathers but we evolve a little and celebrate all male role models, godfathers, uncles and men who actively provide guidance, support and teach these young leaders of the future.
It has now almost become the tradition that we acknowledge Father's Day, but it's never rightly appreciated as much as Mother's Day by the media, retailers and society in general. Any plaudits appear to be isolated and low key token gestures of gratitude. As the media continues to focus on the negative stereotypes of black Fathers, using damaging anecdotes such as 'they are invisible within the family unit' and at best 'glorified babysitters'. So, to advance the revolution to create a new, black stereotype and show men as the motivated Fathers who deserve to be recognised, I am sharing a collection of photographs captured during time spent with three active Fathers.
I'm not disregarding the issues we as a black community are dealing with around young adults growing up without fathers/role models in the home.
Nor am I ignoring the problems developed from young men leaving education early to engage in crime from an early age, which compounds this issue further.
If people are only exposed to stereotypes of black fathers, this is all they will believe and continue to perpetuate. Creating a model which will keep this everlasting loop of solecism.
Stereotypes are, as Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie aptly describes them as...
These men are all motivated black Fathers and role models in their own right. However, they seem in part to be invisible to the media. As you look around during the days preceding Fathers day, just look and see how many advertisements, news articles and blogs show pictures or share the perspective of a black Father.
"If people are only exposed to so-called stereotypes of black fathers, this is all they will believe and continue to perpetuate"
These men have fully embraced their responsibilities as a parent and work daily to maintain and develop their relationships with their children. They assign a level of importance to nurture, be present and dispell damaging stereotypes by being a man their child can proudly call Daddy.
All images available on Instagram @nbsldn
Photos: Kiran Cox (@kiranbcox) & Jessica Hope (@jess_hope_shoots)