There’s a part of me that loathes Father’s Day. It’s not because I don’t have a daddy. I do. And I adore him.
He (still) calls me daily and we chat about everything and nothing like we’re best friends, except he’s, you know, my dad, and there are certain lines we just don’t cross even though I’m well into my grown years.
I don’t look forward to Father’s Day because of Black Twitter. On Mother’s Day, there are plenty of shout outs to the moms. The tweets read something akin to, “Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. You deserve the best!” On Father’s Day, it’s more like, “Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers that actually raise their kids.” Sometimes dads get skipped all together when the greetings read, “Happy Father’s Day to all the single moms holding it down.”
I get where the negative perspective comes from. According to 2011 U.S. Census Bureau data, over 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That is nearly one out of every three children in America (33 percent). Nearly two in three African-American children live in father-absent homes (64 percent). And while some of those fathers living outside the home are very involved, others are not.
Refocusing on great black dads
The pain, the absence, the void of not having a father is oft-discussed, so much so that absenteeism has become the de facto assumption about black fathers. But there’s another side to the story of black fatherhood, one that social activist (and former Survivor contestant) Sabrina Thompson addresses in an interactive social media project, “The Social Series: Fatherhood Is…”
The project includes a video and a Facebook page.
Thompson’s premise was simple enough: to photograph and share photos of black fathers interacting with their children. She herself compiled images of more than fifty fathers into a video and encourages viewers to share and upload photographs of themselves with their African-American fathers via social media during the week leading up to Father’s Day.
Motivations behind “The Social Series: Fatherhood Is…”
“There are plenty of good fathers, but positive images of black fathers are rarely reflected in media,” Thompson says in the video, which was posted June 10. She encourages viewers to post their own images of themselves with their fathers as a way to “flood the Internet” and “counteract the unbalanced depictions of black fathers.”
She also praises her own father, John, for “being an incredible role model,” and expresses her deep love for him in the video. The former reality TV star invites others to share similar gratitude by submitting photos like the ones featured in the promo.
The images Thompson has already collected are adorable, such as a black father carrying his daughter on his shoulders as she holds onto his ears for support. Another dad wipes his son’s nose. A group of girls pile onto their father like he’s their favorite toy for another shot. One dad walks with his young son who leans on him for comfort. Another father drapes his arms protectively around his adult daughters.
An invitation to celebrate black fathers
Thompson says the feedback has been amazing. On Tuesday morning she woke to an e-mail inbox with over one thousand messages from well-wishers and fathers that wanted to be included in her photography series.
“At first I thought, ‘What is this? Is it spam?” Thompson told theGrio. “When I began reading messages it was like, ‘Whoa!’ People want me to extend this campaign well beyond the week of Father’s Day. This project is much bigger that I thought it would be.”
To participate in “The Social Series: Fatherhood is…” tweet a picture of you and your dad to @thesocialseries. Thompson will be collecting the photos and publishing them via social media, and invites you all to share the photos with everyone you know. You can also follow the hashtag #FatherhoodIs to participate in the project.
Demetria L. Lucas is the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria), in stores now. Follow her on Twitter @abelleinbk.