Activists strive to change the narrative of Black fatherhood
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – As we head into Father’s Day weekend, many are reflecting on a father’s impact, especially Black fathers, and the important role they play.
Father’s Day and Juneteenth fall on the same day this year, June 19, and activists are trying to seize the opportunity to talk about why Black fathers often don’t get the recognition they deserve.
Being a dad means something different for every father. For Harry Evans, a father of three, he says it’s about love and being a role model.
“Your representation in the household means the world to your family,” said Evans. “They give me that structure, that reason to make the right decision to make an impact in the community.”
Evans is the founder of Heal Black Men, a Milwaukee group designed to help Black men be comfortable being vulnerable and strive for a healthy lifestyle. He says it’s important to highlight the sacrifices Black fathers make every single day to reduce stereotypes and expand opportunities for Black males.
“There are a lot of Black men in the City of Milwaukee and in the United States that want to do well and they are doing positive things,” said Evans. “That’s what I’m here for, to change that narrative.”
Alvin Thomas, an assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Black fathers often have a tainted reputations and are labeled as being absent from the household. It’s a barrier they face and one that Thomas said needs to change.
“The messaging that's been out there about Black fathers specifically continues to undermine Black fatherhood and denigrates Black fathers,” Thomas said. “That message is not new. It's been going on for decades. Until we start to change that narrative, correct that narrative, I think we are going to continue to have issues.”
Thomas recently launched the Black Fatherhood podcast in hopes to bust myths about Black parents and celebrate their vital role they play in society.
“My message to fathers is simple. You’ve been doing this hard work for a long time, often in the shadow of unappreciation. Continue doing that hard work,” said Thomas.
“My message to fathers right now is to surround yourself with people who want change,” said Evans.