Don’t Believe the Hype: Myth of the ‘Absent’ Black Dad Refuted

By Jazelle Hunt
WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Contrary to the myth, though Black men are more likely to live apart from their children than Whites, they are more involved in the lives of their children than Whites and Hispanics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
The report covers a sample of sample of 10,403 men aged 15–44 years from 2006-2010.
It is true that Black dads are more likely to live apart from their children; the Pew Research Center reports that 44 percent do. However, Pew also found that 67 percent of Black fathers who don’t live with their children see them at least once a month, compared to 69 percent of White dads and 32 percent of Latino dads who don’t live with their children.
Among fathers who resided with their kids, African American dads were more involved in their children’s lives.
In the survey, fathers rated how often they performed certain activities with any or all of their children over the previous four weeks. Black fathers were most likely to bathe, dress, diaper, or help their children use the toilet on a daily basis. This was true for 70 percent of Black dads who lived with their children, compared with 60 percent of White dads and 45 percent of Latino dads.
Although few fathers outside the home could say they did this every day (across race), but Black dads were the top hygiene helpers (12 percent, compared to 6 percent for Whites and 7 percent for Latinos).
According to a similar report from the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of all Black fathers read to their children at least several times per week. Black dads in the CDC survey who didn’t live with their children were more than twice as likely as their White counterparts to host story time every day.
These same “absent” Black dads were significantly the most likely to talk to their school-age children about their day – more than 50 percent reported having done so several times per week or more, compared to 34 percent of absent White dads and 23 percent of absent Latino fathers.
But critics from President Obama on the left to Fox News on the right have been unstinting in their criticism of Black males absent from the home. However, their criticism invariably overlooks the extent of their involvement revealed by the CDC report.
At a panel discussion on poverty at Georgetown University, Obama said: “It’s true that if I’m giving a commencement at Morehouse [College] that I will have a conversation with young Black men about taking responsibility as fathers that I probably will not have with the women of Barnard. And I make no apologies for that. And the reason is because I am a Black man who grew up without a father and I know the cost that I paid for that.”

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