In Defense of Fatherhood

Image

Last week, actor Terry Crews caused a stir on The View with his statements (made online and also during the show) about fatherhood.  His basic point was that every child needs a father because there are certain things that only a father can provide; he went on to describe, in detail, what he meant by that and what specific things that fathers provide.  Additionally, on the show he made an interesting quote, “In this day and age, people care more about organic food than they do organic families.”  While watching the show, I reflected on this quote, realizing that people will argue someone down in defense of their gluten-free and/or organic diets, but often fail to see the value of fathers within the household.

As I reflected on the response that Crews received, both on the internet and also on the show, I was confronted with the reality that in American society, and more specifically in the African-American community, everything seems to be geared towards the mother. There are examples of this everywhere in American society.

Except in extreme cases (a la the recent Halle Berry court case/decision) courts tend to favor the mothers in custody hearings. Also, Mother’s Day is generally more widely celebrated than Father’s Day.  The disparity in the celebration of mothers versus that of fathers is quite possibly most often witnessed with athletes, actors, and other performers in giving their acceptance speeches when receiving specific awards or honors.

One of the most recent examples of this is the now viral MVP acceptance speech by Kevin Durant, where he pays homage to his mother with a long and passionate narrative, ending with the now equally famous quote, “You’re the real MVP.”  Durant does mention his father, but neither with the same length nor emotion that he mentions his mother. This may be because of the relationship with his father coupled by the impact, or lack thereof, that his father had in his life. Such may also be the case for most people who show huge disparities in how they praise their mothers versus their fathers. That is easily understandable.

Image

The damaging part of this super mom narrative (which was not created by Durant nor by other entertainers but by the American media), however, is that it has painted a picture in the American psyche, and more specifically within the African American community, whereby fathers are valued on a much lower level, if at all. In short, the role of a mother is valued at the expense of valuing that of a father. It is for this specific reason that Terry Crew’s comments about fatherhood can cause such a huge uproar, whereas Kevin Durant’s speech earns him greater respect and praise.

Don’t get me wrong, it is quite understandable for anyone, including KD, to give more praise to the parent who spent the most time and exhibited the greater amount of influence. I do wonder, however, if his speech would have been received as well or praised to the extent that it was had the roles of the parents switched, with him heaping the praise largely on his father and only a mere honorable mention for his mother. I wonder, in America and (more specifically) within the African American community, are we more programmed to accept and respect the narrative of the absentee or less involved father and the super mom?

Image

The story of Russell Wilson also helps add to my suspicions.  With Russell Wilson, the most recent NFL Superbowl championship quarterback, his story, and countless interviews show him paying the most homage to his father in helping him to become the man that he is today, even though he was raised in a two-parent home.  In researching Wilson, I found that his father did exercise considerable influence (positively) over Russell, as well as the rest of his siblings.

Image

His mother, however, was also an active parent but isn’t mentioned nearly as much as his father in interviews.  In short, Wilson honors his father in the same manner that Durant honors his mother.  The interesting part of this is that even though Wilson is a superstar athlete who has reached a level that most athletes (or anyone for that matter) will never accomplish, the story of his father (who is now deceased) has never received anywhere near the acclaim as that of Kevin Durant’s mother, even though Wilson is a championship quarterback, while Durant has yet to receive a championship ring.  Clearly the issue is not about the success of Durant over that of Wilson.

One must then ask the question of why Durant’s message and story is so compelling with the American public, and that of the African American community, compared with that of Wilson’s.  Have we truly bought into the narrative of the absentee father and that of the supermom to the extent that we are unwilling to even notice or esteem additional stories that don’t exist within that narrative?  In short, is it impossible for us to accept stories that include fathers into the scenario because we’ve been programmed not to see that as an alternative?

Plight Of A Single Mother

In today’s society the family structure has shifted, almost twenty years ago the rate of single parents wasn’t as significant as it is now. There are plenty of factors that tie into the reasons of why several women are becoming single mothers at alarming rates. Sometimes, things happen, such as death, divorce, etc. Plenty of women are single mothers by choice. But there are those that exploit the view of the positive single mothers.

Photo courtesy of Huffington Post
Photo courtesy of Huffington Post

Society truly has a skewed view on the existence of single mothers. Most believe that single mothers are the result of whoring around and trapping men with babies to continue with a façade of a relationship. Or that these women want to just live off of the government welfare system forever. This has given a black eye to the truly undeserving individuals who need to rely on the help of the corporate government to feed their children as oppose to those who abuse the system or look at gaining child support funds from a guy.

images56

The media doesn’t make these women look any better especially with TV Shows such as with “Maury Povich,” where we usually 9x out of ten see young black women portrayed as loud, ghetto, ignorant and often clueless as to who fathered their babies while America gets to sit back and laugh at their shame. What satire this is? While on the other hand their are shows on MTV such as, “16 & Pregnant” and “Teen Mom,” that actually glorifies in my opinion the acceptance of white teen girls getting pregnant at young ages.  The racial double standard is kind of sad and disgusting.

How single mothers are viewed on this show
How single mothers are viewed on this show

Sometimes, single mothers must work two jobs to support the household. It is rough but it has to be done. Although, single black mothers are at risk for falling into poverty their are plenty of successful single mothers in the world that are holding it together without the father in the home. While all the blame is often put on the women for breeding with men they may not have known wouldn’t stick around what about the men who abandon their children? Child support doesn’t get issued to all single mothers. Their are plenty of fathers who just back out of the parenting role altogether. Some claim that it is too much responsibility for them to handle or just plain haven’t grown up yet. I believe, however, the biggest reason why single parenting may exist outside of death or divorce, etc. The black family structure has been broken down. Black men are leaving the home, or being incarcerated thus leaving the women to take care of things.  This leaves some boys to grow up without fathers and lack the knowledge of what it takes to be a real man in today’s society.

images1

The good gets mixed in with the bad often times. Most of the time when society thinks of black mothers they believe that we are ignorant, uneducated, extremely poor, inadequate parents, living off welfare with two or three kids by several different men. Nobody thinks that perhaps some mothers want more for their live and kids. Some mothers who not only work two jobs, are putting themselves in college, running their own businesses, or sending their successful kids off to college for the first time. The same could be said about single dads. But the media is so focused on devaluing the African American culture it’s ridiculous.

Official-Obama-Family-Portrait-barack-obama-8762958-2560-1707

Positive news in the black community goes unreported all of the time because no one cares to see positive images of the black family structure in media. But until people can decipher the difference between entertainment and reality things will probably never change within our society.