The Myth of the Absent Black Father

The Myth of the Absent Black Father

Breanna Reynolds, Writer and Head Political Contributor


We’ve all seen the stereotype of the deadbeat black dad at some point. Maybe you’ve heard people blame crime in inner city areas on it, maybe you have a family member who makes uncomfortable comments about it, or maybe you saw some racist memes about it during the George Floyd protests. Either way we’ve all seen it at some point. 

It’s something taken very seriously by many. In 2019, at the Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Faith in Action assembly former Illinois state representative Jeanne Ives stated to the crowd “The problem is the gun violence in this city of Chicago, predominantly. And you know how you’re going to solve it? Fathers in the home.” Similar statements were made by Barack Obama during his 2008 Father’s Day speech. David Brown, the Dallas Police Chief, publicly claimed that “70% of the African American community is raised by single women.” There’s so much stress in society to get black fathers to take care of their children but what if I told you that it’s not an actual problem?

The incorrect statistic of 70% of black homes not having fathers comes from conflating marriage rates with interaction with children. According to the CDC, there’s an estimated 2.5 million black fathers who live with their children and 1.7 million who don’t. Not living with them doesn’t mean that they don’t interact with their children. When a child has divorced parents and lives with their mother most of the time, that doesn’t mean they never see their father. This statistic also doesn’t take into account fathers who have died or neglectful fathers who have multiple children with different women and that inflates the statistic more.

Beyond that, it’s actually been shown that black fathers outperform other ethnic and racial groups when it comes to being involved with their children. According to the CDC, black fathers were most likely to bathe, dress, change diapers, and help potty train their children. It was an estimated 70% of black fathers compared to 60% of white fathers and 45% of Hispanic fathers. 

To state the obvious, this doesn’t mean that every black father is the best and always there. It just means that they’re no more likely to abandon their children when compared to any other race. The problems in black communities aren’t caused by absent fathers and it’s time people move past the stereotype. We need to focus on issues that actually matter like redlining, gentrification, and mass incarceration.




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“They’re Dragging Out the ‘Absent Black Fathers’ Myth Again. Can We Give it 

     a Rest? | Opinion.” NewsWeek, 5 June 2020, 



Richardson, Saeed. “Breaking myths about black fatherhood this Father’s Day.” 

     The Chicago Reporter, 13 June 2019,