by Omar Epps, Malik Yoba and Emily Abt
The image of the “deadbeat dad” has been and remains pervasive but there are millions of men in America who live in defiance of this stereotype. Our film “Daddy Don’t Go” was born from these parallel and enduring realities: that one in three American children is fatherless but there are also countless fathers fighting to be active in their children’s lives who deserve to be seen.
In an effort to better understand the obstacles these men face, we followed four disadvantaged dads –Roy, Nelson, Omar and Alex – over the course of two years as they struggled to be present fathers. The issues in the film are close to our hearts. Omar is the product of a fatherless household but now a proud father of three. Malik credits his own father with being the inspiration for his perseverance during a tough custody battle. Emily’s grandfather was excluded from her father’s life for his inability to pay child support. So we were all deeply committed to exploring the issue of fatherlessness when we began making the film three years ago, what did we learn along the way?
Persistent unemployment is a major problem for disadvantaged fathers. All four of the fathers in “Daddy Don’t Go” very much wanted to work but struggled to get and keep steady jobs. They are certainly not alone in this struggle. Working, in America, is in decline. The number of men ages 25 to 54 who are not working has more than tripled since the late 1960s.
Making this film had us yearning for the work programs of the New Deal era when millions of men were given the opportunity to work and provide financial security for their families. Our current government has made great efforts to enforce child support payments but where are the large-scale job programs for disadvantaged men that could really make a difference?
Our second big take-away from making “Daddy Don’t Go” is that while there have been vast improvements; our family court system still treats men like second-class parents. Child support payments are mostly shouldered by men but only 18% of fathers have custody of their children. This means that a man’s financial role in his child’s life continues to be prioritized above his emotional one.
Continue reading “EDITORIAL: Disadvantaged Fathers Should Be Supported, Not Stigmatized”
As we enter into 2014, like everywhere else, GBN is reflecting on what made 2013 truly memorable. There have been historic moments (Barack Obama’s second inauguration to the Presidency of the United States, the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, Obamacare withstanding severe political and technical challenges) sobering moments (the George Zimmerman trial, the Boston Marathon Bombing, the Oklahoma Tornado Disaster) and inspiring moments (Charles Ramsey rescuing Ariel Castro’s captives, Antoinette Tuff talking down a would-be elementary school shooter, Homeless Teen Drew Gooch earning a full scholarship to college).
Of all the stories we posted this year, however, the ones most popular with GBN’s readers have primarily focussed on education, super-intelligent youth, and the debunking of the “deadbeat dad” myth that unfairly haunts so many African-American fathers:
TOP 5 POSTS of 2013
5. 14 Year-Old Thessalonika Arzu-Embry To Earn Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Chicago State University
4. Survey Finds Black Fathers are as Involved with Their Kids as Men of Other Races
3. 18 Year-Old Gabrielle Turnquest Becomes Youngest Ever to Pass Britain’s Bar Exams
2. “Living Single” Actress Erika Alexander Co-Writes Graphic with Black Heroine
1. Child Prodigy Adam Kirby, 2, becomes Youngest Ever to Join Genius Club Mensa
In 2014, GBN will strive to bring you much more of the same (as well as the surprising and unexpected), as we believe there can only be more Good Black News stories to cover. Because when you really look for it, you can find positivity everywhere.
Happy New Year!
Lori Lakin Hutcherson, Good Black News Founder & Editor-In-Chief
For a lot of men, being a father can be a daunting task. Some are unemployed. Many have poor relationships with the mother of their children. In the worst of circumstances, some are even in prison. But Steven Dandridge and his Detroit-based group, New Young Fathers, is working to help men learn how to be better men to their children–regardless of how rough their circumstances are.
“If you want to be a father, this is what it entails,” Dandridge told Fox 2 News Detroit. “You always have to be able to take care of your children, so you have to find employment. In order to do that, you have to be qualified for something. In order to do that, you also need to be able to get along with the mother of your children, whether you’re with her or not. You have to work together. You have to be on one accord when it comes to raising children.”
Continue reading “Detroit Group Led By Steven Dandridge Teaches Men How To Be Better Fathers”