One of my favorite books I read growing up was the classic Richard Wright novel Native Son. It spoke to the social complexities and injustices that young black men have been experiencing for centuries. It also brought about the conversation of a very important systematic concept known as “Cycle of Despair.” This chronicled the plight of the inner city black man as he seeks to do better for his family.
Today’s media paints an all to common narrative of minority fathers not being part of their children’s lives and not seeking guidance and help along the way to make for a better living. Now depending on who you ask, statistics can either back up this claim or provide deeper insights into the mitigating factors that contribute to this narrative.
The young men in the Fatherhood Academy are on a special journey. This journey will take them on many valleys and peaks but along the way they will experience growth mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You see many of our young men have heard all the misconceptions and mass fallacies that society has depicted them as: deadbeats, immature, irresponsible, misogynist, selfish and unavailable to name a few. These terms are strikingly harsh to someone who wears the crown of Father, and plays a pivotal part in how they view themselves in the real world.
The main character of Native Son, Bigger Thomas represents a young man who is a product of all the wrong that has confounded him since birth. In the only mention of Bigger’s father in the novel, we found out he was murdered during a race riot. This was purposely illustrated by Wright as a means to show one of the many ways that black fathers were becoming missing links in their children’s lives by various means. This program serves to erase that narrative.
For 3 days in a week, these young men walk through our doors motivated, hungry and focused on being the pillars for their family. For some, their past transgressions no longer serve as an excuse to run away from their responsibilities as a father. The Academy urges them to face their deepest fear(s) and channel all of their negative and positive energy for a greater good and purpose.
The second piece to consider here, is when they all undoubtedly realize their potential. This serves as the perfect backdrop to their journey as they continue to learn more academically in the classroom. What once seemed like an unattainable feat, now is within their grasp. The trajectory of their life aspirations now appears to be trending upwards as they continue to build confidence in their abilities as not only a scholar but as a father. The program taps into all the essential aspects of what fatherhood is. But the key is the education that starts to take place outside of the classroom, which in turns become vital fixtures in their overall development. The emotional and mental growth that is experienced, allow our fathers to soar high and take flight seeking new heights and endeavors.
In order for our fathers to truly be successful and take something from the program, they must accept their fate. In reality they are here in this program to make for a better tomorrow for themselves, their child(ren) and their families. If you take it a step further they will now serve as living examples for their communities of how change is in fact plausible and attainable. The fate of our young fathers in societal eyes has been predetermined. They get to rewrite their script here in the literal and figurative context.
I always felt that there was a Bigger Thomas that lived in us all. As flawed as he was as a character and reckless in his decision making, there was always an underlying desire to overcome the stereotypes and put to bed the “narrative” that has been prewritten for us. Though our students do not go to the extreme lengths of inflicting their rage as Bigger did in the novel, they have to deal with their inner struggles in their own unique way and that at times can become daunting. The parallel is drawn here where we see that the three themes of the novel: Fear, Flight and Fate are a direct correlation to how our young fathers approach life and embrace the next steps of responsible parenting.
By introducing this blog, we will give these young men a social platform where they can share their raw emotions to the general masses but in a way that has not been heard before. The Fatherhood Chronicles will gain many believers and followers who will put aside preconceived notions and judgments and develop a newfound appreciation and understanding of what our fathers are going through. The hope is that we will spark many other young fathers nationally to share their stories and experiences and in turn change the narrative for once and for all, that fatherhood is a lost cause in the 21st century.
So sit back and open your minds and hearts. Enter our young fathers’ world for once and see things the way they see it. We formally welcome you to the Fatherhood Chronicles.
Peace and Blessings,
Managing Editor of The Fatherhood Chronicles