Herschel Walker, stop lying about Black dads. Put some respect on our names

OPINION: The idea that Black men are absent fathers is one of the most pernicious lies in all of white supremacist America, and Herschel Walker, a Trump man, has been one of the loudest spreaders of that lie for years.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and candidate for U.S. Senate Herschel Walker speaks to supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump during a March rally at the Banks County Dragway in Commerce, Georgia. (Photo: Megan Varner/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I hate lies. Especially lies meant to make my people look bad. Lies like, “Black people are lazy. Black people are criminal.” And this one: “Black men are absentee fathers, and that’s the problem with the Black community.” These lies are used to shape the way people view us and to justify our oppression. Spreading these sorts of lies about us makes you an agent of white supremacy. I’m sure you already know that Herschel Walker, Georgia’s Republican nominee for the Senate, is an agent of white supremacy.  But did you know how deep it all goes with Herschel?

The idea that Black men are absentee fathers is one of the most pernicious and enduring lies in all of white supremacist America, and Herschel Walker, a Trump man, has been one of the loudest spreaders of that lie for years. I once saw him telling those Trumpy clowns of Newsmax and Fox News fame,  Diamond and Silly – I mean Silk – that  “Even if you have to leave that woman, you don’t leave the child.”

Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks at a rally at the Foundry in Athens, Georgia the night before the Republican primary on May 24. (Photo: Joshua L. Jones/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Ok, good advice. How come you don’t follow it? Come to find out ol’ Herschel has left. He has a 10-year-old that he hasn’t raised. Mom had to go to court to get him to pay child support. So let me get this straight –  this big, loud critic of Black absentee fathers is himself a Black absentee father? But wait, there’s more! Herschel has more children he’s not raising—two more. A 13-year-old and a 20-year-old. So if you add up all the kids he’s not raising, you get three. And he’s criticizing who? 

Herschel has gone from calling out Black people to embodying the stereotype that he was calling out. He was attacking Black people to make himself look good for white people because Black right wingers understand that their position in the conservative media ecosystem is to bash Black people. That shows they’re independent from the Black community, and it gives white people the freedom to not feel racist, because surely it can’t be a racist thought if Black people are saying the same thing, right? But now that Herschel is himself the poster child for Black absentee fathers, is he even more useful to the right? I’m not sure.

But the whole stereotype of Black fathers being absent is a lie that’s so deeply rooted we have to disprove it over and over. We’re going to go through some facts, so, trigger warning for any readers who happen to be Republican. Maybe y’all should skip the next four paragraphs. Don’t want you to have a heart attack. 

We all have long seen statistics about Black children born to unwed mothers. Census data from 2020 show that less than 40% of Black children were living with two married parents, but being unwed does not mean the father is not in the lives of his children. In his book All In, author Josh Levs reported that 2.5 million of 4.2 million Black fathers live with their children. Being unmarried does not mean being absent. In many cases, Black couples are living together and raising children while remaining unmarried for any number of reasons. 

Black fathers who live with their children are, according to the CDC, more likely than white and Hispanic fathers to feed, eat with, bathe, diaper, dress, play with, and read to their children on a daily basis. Black dads are deeply involved in their children’s lives. Let me say that again for the people in the back—Black dads are deeply involved in their children’s lives. 

This is true even for Black fathers who do not live with their children. Several studies have found that “nonresident Black and Hispanic fathers are more involved with their children than White fathers.” One study found “Black fathers exhibited significantly higher levels of shared responsibility and positive coparenting with mothers than either White or Hispanic fathers.” 

That study went on to say, “Recent studies focused on unmarried fathers in particular have shown that many Black fathers remain highly involved after a nonmarital birth.. Even in the case of incarceration, minority fathers maintained contact with their children more often than White fathers. Taken as a whole, studies increasingly suggest that minority fathers are more likely to maintain parent-child ties outside of a committed, residential relationship with the child’s mother compared to White fathers.” Did I mention that Black dads are deeply involved in their children’s lives?

The myth of the absent Black father who is ignoring his children to the detriment of the next generation is a dangerous lie. It casts the Black man as someone who is so lacking in character that he’s not even willing to take care of his children. He’s failing at a man’s most important responsibility—taking care of his family. If you believe that, then you can justify any harsh reprisal you can imagine. But the truth is this: Black men are out here raising their kids whether they live with them or not. 

Maybe Herschel Walker’s football career led to him having so many concussions that he cannot recall all of his children. He just forgot three of his kids. But he remembered to bash Black men who…??? Now that we know that Walker is living a Black stereotype, maybe he can stop perpetuating the lie that all of us are like him.

He doesn’t need to say Black men are absentee, he can just show up and be absentee. Whenever he is in the public eye, we know that he’s not raising his kids. He’s here speaking to us. But he is an exception. The vast majority of Black men are raising their children and care deeply about them.  My father was there for me in my home every day of my life, and my kids know nothing but Daddy being there for them every day. I couldn’t imagine not seeing my kids all the time. A lot of Black men feel the same. Put some respect on our name.


Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is also the author of seven books.

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