Sunday, 6 June 2010

Black Fatherhood in the 21st Century

I was recently invited to the House of Commons to the launch of a campaign on Black Fatherhood. The event was hosted by David Lammy MP and the Runnymede Trust. There were about fifty people in the audience, many of whom were involved in groups already doing great work on fatherhood.
David told the audience that he had been concerned about fatherhood for many years: his own father had left when he was 11 years old, he explained the effect this had on him and his family, and how it had felt like a personal betrayal. He recognised that a lot of people in the black community had private conversations about affects of fathering on family life, and said it is time to be brave enough to talk openly about it. In his speech he explained the particular challenges that face the black community – it is well worth reading.
David has started making these conversations public by producing a video showing discussions about fatherhood with black men of all ages and backgrounds. I found it really hardening to see a group of black professional men sitting on the House of Commons terrace discussing the effect their fathers had had in their lives.
One of the fathers in the audience was sporting a black t-shirt with 'I am the Dad' across the front. It turns out he's set up an organisation of the same name, has a band called Green Jade and is releasing the single Fathers Day in time for Fathers Day.
I met some of the other good people from organisations promoting fatherhood, you might want to check these out: Mighty Men of Valour, 100 Black Men and DadsHouse.