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6/10/2014 1 It Takes A Village Exploring the Role of Otherfathers in African Communities in the Diaspora Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard.

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Presentation on theme: "6/10/2014 1 It Takes A Village Exploring the Role of Otherfathers in African Communities in the Diaspora Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard."— Presentation transcript:

1 6/10/ It Takes A Village Exploring the Role of Otherfathers in African Communities in the Diaspora Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard

2 6/10/ Introduction Study Findings Dispelling the Myths About Black Fathers The Politics of Black Fatherhood Father Absence Otherfathers in Black Communities Implications for Policy and Practice Overview

3 6/10/ RESEARCH STUDIES SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS: AS DEFINED BY BLACK MEN HISTORY: BLACK FATHERS AND SONS ACROSS GENERATIONS INTERROGATING AND SUPORTING BLACK FATHERHOOD RACISM, VIOLENCE AND HEALTH STUDY Introduction

4 6/10/ Introduction contd My connection to this topic is personal and professional Exploring the role of fathers is essential to the practice of social work

5 6/10/ STUDY FINDINGS African communities value family, Black fathers cope with race, class, and gender oppression in patriarchal societies Despite the disparaging conditions, some Black men are positive fathers and mentors 55% of the participants from Survival and Success study say their fathers were present and active

6 6/10/ STUDY FINDINGS CONTD Black men continue to face systemic barriers in education that has a direct link to their experience in the labour market Racism is physically, spiritually and emotionally painful for Black men, their families and their communities.

7 6/10/ STUDY FINDINGS CONTD Racism and violence impact the health and well-being of Black men, their families and communities. fathers HELP WITH TRANSITION TO manhood and understanding what it means to be a man in a race conscious and racist society.

8 6/10/ STUDY FINDINGS CONTD positive contributions FROM fathers (patience, love, affection, understanding, high moral values and motivation to achieve). many Black men are taking their responsibilities seriously; being an active and positive part of a family. fathers were their first role models or mentors.

9 6/10/ BLACK MOTHERS RAISING SONS ALONE BLACK MEN NEGATIVE INFLUENCES BLACK MEN VIOLENT AND DANGEROUS NEGATIVE PORTRAYAL IN MEDIA AND LITERATURE ABSENT, DEAD-BEAT DADS BLACK MEN AN ENDANGERED SPECIES BLACK MEN AN ENDANGERED SPECIES Dispelling the myths

10 6/10/ Black fatherhood may be the site of oppression or an opportunity for growth, creativity and change. Black fatherhood is essentially a paradoxical institution. Politics of black fatherhood

11 6/10/ The Politics of Black Fatherhood The Politics of Black Fatherhood instability of the Black family related to the inability of the Black male to assume the provider role. African-American fathers play various roles, such as provider, decision maker and spouse supporter. traditional study of African-American fathers and families focus on studying problematic areas, rather than examples of positive action.

12 6/10/ The Politics of Black Fatherhood (Con) Many Black men are taking their responsibilities seriously; being an active and positive part of a family. Men are socialized to avoid assuming responsibility for childrearing Such avoidance is supported by women who buy into super women myth

13 6/10/ The Politics of Black Fatherhood (Contd) Some Black men are positive fathers and mentors to their sons and to other young Black men Men of African heritage began a process of reconstructing masculinity through the context of their experiences of survival and success. Manhood can be a source of inner strength that Black men can use to negotiate racism and oppression.

14 6/10/ Father absence- history cChildren on slave ships lost their connection with their ancestors Some children were born in slavery and had to devise new ways of survival sShared parenting is a traditional African custom The African Proverb: It takes a village to raise a child

15 6/10/ Father absence - reasons Structural conditions Racism and poverty The welfare state Incarceration Death

16 6/10/ Father absence- impact Guilt and remorse Anger- rage Feelings of rejection Children with absent fathers need someone to help fill the gap

17 6/10/ Children separated from parents thru slavery were cared for by others. These were otherfathers and othermothers. Collective consciousness- a sense that these are all our children Fathers in my studies recognized the need to be role models and mentors not only for their own sons and daughters, but for others as well, Positive role of otherfathers in survival of Black men Otherfathers in Black Communities

18 6/10/ Challenges pervasive myths and stereotypes about father absence Role models and mentors, by presence, modeling Black masculinity Nurturers Shared parenting beyond blood lines Help with the transition to manhood Otherfathers help transcend social construction of Black masculinity Significance of Otherfathers in Black Communities (Contd)

19 6/10/ Conclusion The diversity of Black fathers in the Diaspora Active Fathers Absent Fathers The significance of fathers, grandfathers and otherfathers in helping their sons develop a string sense of their masculinity Fathers can be physically present but emotionally absent, and physically absent, but emotionally present Otherfathers play an important role in Black communities

20 6/10/ Conclusion Otherfathers are guardians of the next generation and a positive resource in Black communities Mentorship programs for Black children need to be developed or strengthened. Despite the distortions of healthy parenting in African-Canadian communities, otherfathers and community fathers remain critical for positive and healthy parenting.

21 6/10/ Implications for policy and Practice Develop father friendly policies Expand definition of father involvement Develop strategies to engage with fathers Change view of otherfathers Develop programs around otherfathers

22 6/10/ Closing words What fathers had to say… The guilt of not being there… so much shame to my family…I will spend the rest of my life seeking forgiveness I grew up in a community atmosphere…

23 6/10/ Black mens ideas… it takes a village…we all have a responsibility…its not the quantity of time its the quality… we can help make a difference…by giving back to them…their actions speak louder than words…

24 6/10/ References for Studies Racism, Violence and Health- visit Fatherhood- see video- HIStory: reflections on the Father-Son relationship Across Generations Bernard, Wanda Thomas (1996) Survival and Success: As Defined By Black Men in Sheffield, England and Halifax, Canada. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis, Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield


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