Debunking The ‘Absent Black Father’ Stereotype

black father embracing his young black daughter
Via Flickr
Adé Hennis
March 6, 2024

Studies show that Black fathers are more involved in their children’s lives than fathers in other groups. So then why is the absent Black father stereotype still so widespread?

#1: Partus Sequitur Ventrem

 In 1662, the colony of Virginia passed a law known as partus sequitur ventrem, or “that which is born follows the womb.” The law not only ensured that children whose mothers were enslaved would never be free, but also separated Black enslaved fathers from their children.

#2: The Moynihan Report

 In 1965, the Moynihan Report wrongly blamed poverty in Black families on the absence of fathers in the home. The report, released during the Civil Rights era, was weaponized to fuel racist stereotypes about Black men.

#3: War On Drugs Causing Mass Incarceration Of Black Fathers

 In the War on Drugs, declared in the 1970s, Black men have been disproportionately arrested and sentenced to longer prison terms. Mass incarceration has taken Black fathers away from their families by design.

The myth of the absent Black father is meant to harm the Black community and especially Black children. Being aware of the ways anti-Blackness is deployed against  us is the first step in fighting back.

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