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Refuting the stereotype of the absentee Black father

Refuting the stereotype of the absentee Black father

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"A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society."

-- The Rev. Billy Graham

At a time when Americans are taking to the streets to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, there is another, somewhat quieter movement sweeping the Black community.

Sean Williams, 37, the father of three children, was surprised when his neighbors and others in his community kept praising him for spending time with his children.

Williams is a Black man and he and his family live in a mostly white neighborhood on New York's Long Island.

At first, Williams was appreciative, but after awhile, he began to bristle at the comments.

Why should people be so surprised that he is a good father? He reached out to his black friends and they confirmed that they, too, receive similar "compliments."

What Williams realized is that the people making such comments weren't surprised that he is a good father, but rather that a Black man was such a good father. In fact, they were playing into the stereotype that Black children grow up without fathers.

And that made him mad. So, he set out to set the record straight. He created The Dad Gang, an initiative to show to the world that Black man make good fathers. He began an Instagram account showing pictures of Black men and their children.

The account now has more than 86,000 followers and features thousands of photos and videos showing Black fathers doing everything from braiding their daughter's hair to helping with school homework.

Last summer, a group of more than 100 Black fathers and their children marched through New York City to show that The Dad Gang is real and it is growing.

Williams has it right. Like many stereotypes, the idea of the absentee Black father just doesn't match the reality.

Every study shows that children do better when dad is living at home. Those of us lucky enough to grow up with a father at home know that advantages that brings.

So it is good to know that so many Black children are growing up with a father at home. Maybe one day, most children, no matter the color of their skin, grow up with dad at home.

If your father still is alive, be sure to thank him today for being such an important part of your life. If your father is gone, say a prayer of thanks and gratitude.

To all dads: Happy Fathers Day. We love you.

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