A week and a half ago, I saw a Facebook post from Tara Jefferson of The Young Mommy Life about a new book project that she participated in asking for support for a Kickstarter campaign. I went to the link and was immediately intrigued. Tara wrote a chapter for a new book, Bet on Black: African American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barack Obama. I knew right away that I was going to support the campaign, so I made a mental note to sit down and read through the options once the tiny human was asleep. I also contemplated sending a message to the editor, Kenrya Rankin Naasel, about the book and any help I could lend. Well imagine my surprise when a few hours later, I received an email from Kenrya asking if I would be interested in writing a post here about the book. I was literally in shock, and jumped on the chance to do so. (I also realized how small the world is because Kenrya and my sister-in-law are sorority sisters from Howard University).
Before I go further, let me just say I have not been compensated for this post and I’ve actually supported their Kickstarter campaign prior to writing the post. I chose to support this project because every Father’s Day I hear a plethora of backhanded compliments to fathers on the jobs they do. It’s never just Happy Father’s Day, but often it’s followed with a “to all the real fathers out there who take care of their kids.” Earlier this year, I mentioned to Mr. S that it sucks that dads really don’t get the credit they deserve. It seems like people assume that Black fathers in particular are some sort of anomaly. While I don’t deny the fact that there are Black men who are not taking care of their parental responsibilities, there are so many who are and those men deserve to be recognized. They deserve to simply hear Happy Father’s Day with no follow up.
Kenrya Rankin Naasel’s latest project does just that through stories from women like Tara Jefferson who discuss the importance of their father’s presence in their lives. “Through this collection of thoughtful essays, twenty women wrestle with the much maligned image of the Black dad and shed light on the touching relationships they have with the dynamic fathers in their lives.” (press release). You all know I’m adamant about the importance of Mr. S in Sesame’s life and wanting him to know that his father is important. Sesame is a sweet mama’s boy, but he LOVES his daddy so much. He runs to the door when he hears him pulling up and he squeals when Mr. S picks him up. When I first wrote the letter telling Sesame why I chose his father, I wrote it from a place of hindsight and of course even my hindsight couldn’t prepare me for the bond they share already.
I’m very excited to receive my copy of Bet on Black in the coming weeks, not only so I can read the essays, but also so that it’s a staple on our shelves and Sesame learns the importance of fatherhood and to take it seriously.
If you’re ready to change the media perception of Black fathers, please support Bet on Black’s Kickstarter campaign. They are $3,347 away from their $10,000 goal. You can also follow them on Facebook for updates.