The New Normal: Celebrating Black Dads
It’s hard to not loathe the cynicism that appears all over the inter-webs after photos of black dads tending to their children are posted in social media channels. Are there really so few good black dads out there? Or is our society—black, white, and everything in between—so inclined to believe the generalized version that mass media makes all black dads to be like?
From a total unscientific perspective, I’m going with the latter.
After a picture of Doyin Richards of Daddy Doin’ Work combing his daughter’s hair went viral—his subsequent post comparing the experience to MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech stating, “I have a dream that people will view a picture like this and not think it’s such a big deal”—my eyes were opened to the radical and insulting comments my family could be subjected to by posting pictures of my husband online. The comments related to Doyin’s post ranged from questioning the children’s paternity, blasting him for marrying outside his race to horrifying insults suggesting that “something fishy was going on.” Like Doyin, I regularly post images of my black husband doing daddy duties and don’t think much of it—including tending to our daughter’s mixed hair care regime.
Not long after, two gay black dads shocked the internet with a similar photo that has been slammed simply because they posted their version of normal. As their Instagram feed propels images of a happy, loving family, I wonder what makes these images so offensive? Children living in single-parent homes exist throughout all races, and while rates of fatherless children within African American and Latino communities are higher, so is the issue of poverty.
This past weekend, we took our family to Disneyland to celebrate our 4-year-old’s birthday. My husband and I worked together to ensure our daughter had a memorable trip, while tending to our toddler son’s needs too. My husband was the only one to change diapers that day. He pushed the double stroller all over the park. And when his sensitive little girl braved the big drop of Splash Mountain, he held her tight and celebrated her courage at the end. Amazing and wholesome black dads exist. And for so many people in this country, they are what constitute our normal.
Perhaps Doyin Richards was on to something when he harped on MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech to make his case of black dads “doin’ work.” Perhaps today it’s just a dream that black dads doing their little girl’s hair while carrying an infant in an Ergo isn’t such a big deal. As when I think about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his amazing legacy, I am reminded that all legacies begin somewhere.
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