Does being “for” something automatically define you as being “against” something else? Can we celebrate and work toward a win for one group without having to subsequently celebrate another’s loss or misfortune? I regularly face these questions because I run a podcast and platform called, Black Fathers, NOW!
When the conversation comes up regarding my podcast, especially outside of the black community, typically one of two things happens. Sometimes I gain immediate buy in and support for taking this initiative to try to change the public perception of black fatherhood as it tends to be painted in the vast media landscape as a less than favorable picture. Other times, I’m met with the “Why not ‘all fathers’?” crowd.
The first perspective indirectly inspired the creation of Black Fathers, NOW! The overwhelming negative media portrayal of black fatherhood has resulted in the vast majority of resources for black fathers being focused on reducing absenteeism and basic fathering skills, further perpetuating the already present media narrative. But when I took the time to analyze my African-American friends who were, like me, on this journey of fatherhood, I found that narrative didn’t have much social proof. Most of us are engaged fathers with goals and dreams of our children growing and developing into the best versions of themselves.
Specific content fills serves specific needs
That being said, many others would look at this group and think that there was little need for fostering improvement in the areas of marriage and fatherhood; therefore, a huge void in content exists and that spoke directly me. The black father who desires to go from good to great tends to get overlooked in the media and in society. That was the core inspiration behind my developing Black Fathers, NOW! I wanted to curate language, context and content specifically geared to impact one particular demographic not because other demographic groups don’t matter. I did it with the intention of resonating deeply within this specific group in a way that more generic, catch-all content historically couldn’t.
That inspiration also has a direct connection to the second reaction I frequently encounter when discussing my podcast and platform outside of the black community. Why not “All Fathers, NOW”? When I encounter this perspective, I immediately start to think about music. When you listen to your favorite hip-hop artist, you’ll typically get inundated with references, examples and accounts of experiences that resonate with someone who’s had experiences in what would be considered an urban environment. If you’re a fan of country music, it’s common for references and examples that directly correlate with rural America or a slower pace of life. What’s interesting about both examples is that there are fans of both types of music who don’t necessarily fit the bill for having experiences that correlate with the target messaging. Direct connection and relatability to the examples given isn’t always necessary for that music to have some level of impact on your life. But when individuals feel the messaging and examples are speaking directly to them, there is an inspirational spark – one that has the potential to manifest into something of action. The opposite is true when you don’t feel that connection. And in the space of fatherhood, specifically black fatherhood, the dearth of specific, relatable and actionable content with the focus on inspiring good black fathers to become great black fathers gave way to Black Fathers, NOW!
So when you see something geared toward black fathers – or any group you are not part of for that matter — know that it is there because a black dad has been yearning for something that authentically “speaks his language.” Consider even checking the content out. Remember, you may not directly connect with some of it but, like music across all genres, there is probably something embedded in the beat and lyrics that may cause you to think differently and appreciate it nonetheless. This is not a zero sum game. Nobody has to lose for us all to win.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Dorsey, known as “Mike D” by many, is an author, business entrepreneur, community organizer, speaker and podcaster who aims to create a community for active and engaged black fathers. The Augusta, Ga., native and former medical sales professional created and hosts the Black Fathers, NOW! podcast and founded the apparel company Black Family Apparel, which celebrates positive imagery of the black family through messaged clothing. He has author two books: Dynamic Black Fatherhood Manifesto and ABE: Always Be Engaged — The 7 Keys to Living a Fit Urban Life.