Tag: My Brother’s Keeper

EDITORIAL: Disadvantaged Fathers Should Be Supported, Not Stigmatized

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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.
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50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act

President Obama, with Michelle Obama, the library director, Mark K. Updegrove, left, and Representative John Lewis. (DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES)
President Obama, with Michelle Obama, the library director, Mark K. Updegrove, left, and Representative John Lewis. (DOUG MILLS/THE NEW YORK TIMES)

AUSTIN, Tex. — For three days, the veterans of a long-ago movement reunited and drew together their spiritual heirs to explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act a half-century after it transformed America. And then the legacy walked onstage.

President Obama presented himself on Thursday as the living, walking, talking and governing embodiment of the landmark 1964 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.

In a speech that stirred an audience of civil rights champions here at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Obama acknowledged that racism has hardly been erased and that government programs have not always succeeded. But, he added, “I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of L.B.J.’s efforts, because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts, because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.”

Thanks to the law and the movement that spawned it and the progress made after it, Mr. Obama said, “new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody,” regardless of race, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. “They swung open for you, and they swung open for me,” he said. “And that’s why I’m standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy.”

The president’s speech marking the 50th anniversary of the law Johnson signed in July 1964 was one more moment for Mr. Obama to address his own role in history. Though Mr. Obama often seemed reluctant to be drawn into discussions of race relations in his first term, insistent on being the president of everyone, he has been more open in talking about it since winning re-election.

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