Black dads are doing better than other dads with their children under 5 years of age. Always good to have news that takes away stereotypes that no longer represents reality,, and that’s just what Charles M. Blow in his OP-ED in the New York Times today did. Blow begins with the data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention in 2014 reporting that nearly 72 percent of births to non-Hispanic black mothers were unmarried. The automatic response to this fact would be to view the black fathers as absent from the family, and add to the dysfunctional father mythology. Turns out not to be true. But just in case you don’t get to the Blow article in the New York Times, he brings information that shows just how far from the truth the stereotypes are about black fathers. In fact, the study on Father’s Involvement with activities of their children under 5, that compared white, hispanic and black fathers, reported that black Dads Living and Not Living with their children exceed both hispanic and white fathers relative to the participation, daily care and involvement with their children.
Charles Blow refers to Josh Lev’s Book “All In” with a chapter giving facts and figures to back up the claim called “How Black Dads are Doing Best of All (But There’s Still a Crisis.”) Lev states that most black fathers in America Live with their children unmarried to their mothers. Of the 2.5 million black fathers, 1.7 million do not live with their children.
The choice of cohabitation over marriage is represented by the results of the report by the National Center for Health Statistics, reported in 2013 for the first time the preference of cohabitation. The study Charles Blow addresses shows the results for both the fathers who live his children, and fathers who do not live with their children. That’s where the statistics indicate that Black father’s have a higher rate (78.2 as opposed to White 73.9 and Hispanic 63.9) of direct hands on care of their children. Feeding, bathing, playing with the children daily, reading to the children daily by black Fathers Living With Children held the highest rate of participation. For Fathers Not Living with Children, again black fathers held the higher rate of participation with their children than white or Hispanic fathers.
How and why Black fathers lived with some of their children, but participated even without living with the children was the question raised by this study. To that question, Charles Blow brings up the Forbes report on Ferguson, MO and the “missing men” in the community. It seems highly symbolic of other communities dealing with racial issues that are coming to light across the country. The US Census Bureau reported that there were 1,182 AFrican American women between the ages of 25-34 living in Ferguson, but only 577 men in this age group due to incarceration and death of the black males 25-34. Further, Charles Blow quotes the April New York Times that stated “Incarceration and early deaths are the overwhelming drivers of this condition.” He reports that higher imprisonment rates account for 600,000 nationally and that one in twelve black men at the 25-34 prime age are behind bars, compared with one in sixty nonblack men.
The Unmarried black women birth rate has declined significantly, but the birth rate for married black women has declined even further according to the CDC report. The Atlantic’s Ta Nehisi Coates article is referenced by Charles Blow to describe the demographics further. The Atlantic article by Coates offers the fact that at one time, married black women had more children than married white women, but that is no longer statistically accurate.
Blow ends this report with the fact that the CDC report of December 2013 measured and reported that in fact fathers have children in different families-given the limitation on the number of men compared to women for child bearing. But most importantly their study reported that black fathers were the most involved compared to hispanic and white fathers on specific measures of care with children they live with and as well, the children they do not live with.
Great to hear that black fathers are invested in their children and in their families. Sad to recognize the cost of mass incarceration to the formation of family. Dispelling the myth of the missing father actually highlights the reality of the missing men from their families and their communities. We are left with the urgent need for social justice for young black men in Ferguson and other urban communities around the country. Black Lives Matter and social justice advocates Ella Baker, Books Not BArs are all working to address this loss of human life and human potential, the measure of which are beginning to emerge in all aspects of our lives.