Black Father Love: A New Type of Celebrity

By | April 11, 2011

In a world that gives so much credence and attention to Brangelina, Sandra Bullock, and every celebrity that takes in a baby of color, where is all the glory and paparazzi for black dads who are raising their children? 

During the heyday of The Cosby Show, we longed for Thursday nights. Not only to see the hijinks that one of those adorable children would create but to see how a loving black, funny dad would handle it. There would be no hitting or yelling or belittling.

Cosby made us fall in love with the possibility of black father love.

It was so overwhelming and so inspiring that folk all over the world were drawn to this black man and his concern and love for his children. Sadly, we, as a nation, were led to believe that this was a fluke, a yukfest, entertainment at its best.

An aunt of mine pointed out that this is not the way “real” black dads behaved. At 16, I found this comment confusing and dumb. It was the kind of relationship I truly wanted and would want to have with my children: respectful and not fear-based.

Somewhere along the way, we have gotten very confused regarding how men love and how they should or could love particularly when it comes to young people.

Let’s hope at some point we move beyond all of this nonsense. In the meantime, what can we do to bring as much attention to men loving their children, our children?

What can be done to make the everyday man who takes on the unheralded and thankless job of successfully raising children appear as exciting as celebrity adoption? How do we shift the media and our attention to a topic that consistently gets neglected?

I once came up with an idea of doing a photography exhibit where black men being loving open and accessible was the image you got bombarded with no matter where you looked. I have also written a series of plays about black men and the complexities of our relationships.

So I suggest we start the same place we start most things that we want to see more of: we start with our imaginations.

Then we demand that images not be deleted from popular culture but that our decolonized and well thought alternatives be included. Remember everything is created inwardly first. If we can’t imagine it, nothing will change.

At one time, slavery was thought to be OK; women couldn’t vote; we thought the Earth was flat and that nice German fellow would go away if we just ignored him.

People can change their thinking.

5 thoughts on “Black Father Love: A New Type of Celebrity

  1. Sammy

    Focusing on the “white media” won’t change this problem of absent fathers in the Black community. Why are we constantly shifting the focus away from ourselves and the work we need to do?

  2. JJ Shag

    Nice essay, man. The best black father-son relationship I’ve seen, hell, actually probably the best of any race, portrayed on TV is the 3 generation family of Avery Brooks’ Captain Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space Nine, chronicaling his relationship with both his father and his son.

    1. Anthony Post author


      I remember that one as well. His young son always reminded me of myself and my dad. Sci-Fi and speculative fiction is always a great place to look for “alternative” and thoughtful portrayals of humanity.


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