The book on black fatherhood needs a rewrite

Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency | Source: Des Moines Register

I wrote the book on black fatherhood. Literally.

“Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood” was a deep dive into the absence and uninvolvement of African-American fathers in the lives of their children. Like many observers, I inferred that absence and uninvolvement from statistics showing a decline in marriage among African Americans so that the average black baby was now born to an unwed couple.

For years, I’ve used that book as a defense when white people taunted me that the dysfunction so often afflicting black kids has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with the failure of their fathers. It was my way of proving that not only did I comprehend those failures, but I was unafraid to call my own folks to account.

Not that white people are the only ones who perceive African-American men as bad dads. The book opens with me explaining to my friend Roy that I’m writing about black men and fatherhood, whereupon he laughs and asks, “What does the one have to do with the other?” Roy was black, a father of two.

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