Why are all the performance parent types on television always depicted as women? There are the stage mothers, the soccer moms, and the dance moms. And, whether they’re portrayed as doting or obsessive, these moms are almost always portrayed as white…which brings me to the subject of today’s drawing, the Black gymnastics dads. Yes, they do exist. I cannot say they are legion, but I see them every week, when I accompany my niece to her gymnastics school. Last week, while I was sitting in one of the waiting areas, I happened to notice that there were 5 dads standing in the lobby, and four of those dads were Black men. One was standing and watching his daughter’s class, and three were helping their daughters into or out of jacket, shoes, and socks.
I don’t need to recount all of the media coverage that addresses how or why Black fathers are absent. And I am not suggesting that absentee fathers are not a problem. But it is also a problem when the national rhetoric around Black men and parenting completely overlooks the very real presence and contributions of the men I see at my niece’s weekly class, the fathers who are loving and present caregivers–the fathers who are there.