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Monday, January 6, 2014

Why I Write Black Fathers In My Stories

If you’ve read any of my books like Isis, The Cassandra Cookbook/A Recipe For $ucce$$, All About Nikki, or The Thetas, you’ll notice I always make an effort to add one supporting character to the story: The Black Father.

I believe it’s important for Black readers to see who a Black father is and to see how he impacts the lives of the characters, especially female characters in the story.

For too long, the role of the Black father has been minimized and downplayed in the Black community. And if he’s in a story, he’s shown as a no good triflin’ lazy deadbeat incapable of providing any sort of leadership or guidance to his family.

With so Many Black women growing up in single parent homes they’ve learned not to value fathers and they don’t see how his role shapes the futures of his family.

However, I see the value a strong father has on the impact on the life of a child. When a man enters the life of his daughter her emotional needs are usually met. And when her emotional needs are met, she’s confident and secure in herself. She doesn’t have to go out looking for love from other men in a series of unsatisfying relationships.

When I first wrote Isis back in 1999, I wanted to make a statement about the roles of fathers in the lives of their daughters. I knew many girls who grew up in single parent households didn’t grow up with their fathers in their lives and were upset about never hearing his side of the story. For them, their fathers were evil boogeymen who hated them and their mothers.

With Isis I wanted to tell the father’s side of the story. Explain to them what happened between him and their mothers. Provide answers to all the unanswered questions girls have been asking for years about their family histories and how it relates to their identities. Hopefully coming to an understanding that provides a resolution to the numerous father issues that prevent them from actualizing their potential as adults and having healthy relationships with others.

The way I see it a child who does not know their father is incomplete; they only get half of what they need from their mother. One half of a child is their father and they need to hear his side of the story and to come to a complete understanding of themselves.

I want my readers, especially children to understand the role a good father plays in their lives. Just like a mother, a good father provides the emotional support and nurturing to his children. He teaches kids lessons about manhood and the role a man plays in a family. Those lessons need to be seen in fiction so that children, especially Black children can start seeing the positive impact a father has on the roles of their children.

I feel it’s important for my Black readers to see a father in action and to understand his role in the Black family and I want to present a model of Black fatherhood in my stories. Black fathers are the first man a girl has a relationship with and if the relationship between a girl and her father isn’t strong it sets the tone for future dysfunction with her boyfriend or husband.

I’ve noticed among some Black female readers and even some female family members that they get upset when they see a Black father in one of my stories. On stories where I write a single female character like Marilyn Marie, they’ll praise the story and talk about how empowered she is. But when I write a story with a father in a role as a supporting character they get emotional. Picking apart the story and looking for flaws in it. Some start attacking the characters. A few even attack me.

I know a lot of sistas and women in general have daddy issues and are uncomfortable about seeing a healthy father-daughter relationship portrayed in between the pages of a story.

But I won’t let their unresolved daddy issues deter me from my mission as a writer and as a publisher.

I write about Black fathers because I want to promote healing in the Black community between the generations of lost children and their fathers. I want them to come to the understanding the role a Black father plays in building a strong family and how his influence shapes who they’ll become as adults.

As a publisher of positive Black fiction, I know it’s important to show fathers in the lives of characters so that readers will come to understand that Black men and women can have loving caring healthy relationships. For too long Black people have only been presented with the dysfunction of Baby Mama drama, and No good daddies in Black literature. In most modern literature the Black father is depicted as some deadbeat bum, angry abuser, or a sex fiend who rapes his own children. The only way to counter those images of Black fatherhood is to start presenting positive images of loving, caring Black men who are passionate about sharing their love with their children. I make an effort to show those men in action. I want readers to see the role a Black father plays in everyone’s lives. I’m hoping that after reading one of my stories life will imitate art and more Black men will become inspired and start taking a more active roles in the lives of their women and their children.

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