Black Fathers, are so valuable, we are so important. We have to take care of ourselves, we have to get over this idea of stepping back or I can’t deal with this and be there for our black families.
Carl Stokes Jr. is an author, keynote speaker, professor and social worker and author of the brand new book “A Straightforward Guide for Black Fathers to Improve Themselves and their Relationships with their Children” So this post is about Fatherhood, and the Issue of, Black Fathers, because in the black community we have the label of the, black fathers, are usually, absentee Dads.
Listen to the full interview here:
Introduction Why Black Fathers need to be visible
Dr Carl decided to write this book and mentor, black fathers, because it is something that the black community needs to get better at. Carl Stokes Jr. is an award-winning social worker, educator, college instructor and recently received his doctorate in education. His dissertation focuses on, Black Fathers, and their perseverance in community colleges. Dr Carl is passionate about working to uplift the black community. He also enjoys teaching, parenting classes, for a small non-profit organization.
Myrna – As a black man tell us your story of your relationship with your, father, and your current relationships with your daughters. I’m curious to know, because a lot of times we work on areas that we have lived through.
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Dr Carl – What’s interesting is that my answer is both. I grew up with my, black father, and without my, black father. My dad was in the home until I was about 10 or 11 years old, unfortunately though during that time he had fallen victim to the crack cocaine epidemic of the 80s. So my, father, was in a home; but life was very difficult during that time; because of what he was going through.
However, he was still in the home, there was still benefits of his presence. Then things got really bad to the point where we were basically forced out. I went through that whole period of teenage years and everything without guidance of my, father. So, as an adult, I can see the difference between an, absentee dad, and a, Black father, in the home. Because even though my, father, wasn’t at his best, when he was in the home I benefited form him being visible.
Why Black Fathers should be visible to their kids
Myrna – So between the ages of 1 and 10 your dad was in the home; but he even though he couldn’t be a, father, because he was under the influence of crack cocaine, what you are saying is that the fact your, father, was in the home; it had some positive effect on you.
Dr Carl – Absolutely! Discipline wise, teaching me how to protect and take care of my mother, because he was gone a lot. He would have conversations with me. It was nice having a, father, to talk to. It was a benefit to me and my younger brother.
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I can sit here and say that I did get lessons from having that male presence in the house. I can also say I also experienced domestic violence and theft. I also experienced run-ins with the police and people from the street and all that. I wouldn’t say stick it out regardless, because I just as easily could have went the other way. I was just fortunate enough to take the more positive path.
Why is being a visible Black Father is Important
Myrna – Let’s transition to your relationship with your daughters. You have three daughters. How do you parent them knowing that you didn’t have a, father, since you were 10 years old?
Dr Carl – Okay, this is where it gets a little bit interesting and sort of complicated, because I became a, black father, at 17 years old. I was a senior in high school, unfortunately because I was so young and because I didn’t have the guidance and I was immature, I ended up not handling my, parenting, as a, Black father, the way I should have. My daughter’s mother decided to move to Atlanta Georgia and take my daughter with her.
I didn’t know I had rights. I didn’t know that I shouldn’t have allowed her to take my daughter without working out any arrangements. The separation caused damage to the relationship between me and my first daughter. When I became a, Black Father, to my other two daughters, I vowed that nothing was going to stop me from being a good dad. Fatherhood, became my absolute top priority.
Replacing the Absentee Black Father Myth
Myrna – Why is it that traditionally, black fathers, have been absent? We know we’ve got the crack epidemic, we know we’ve got prison; but even when none of those circumstances are present, black fathers, still don’t make it a priority to parent their children. Why do you think that is the situation?
Dr Carl – We kind of lowered our own expectations as, Black dads. We have very little guidance and then when we put the other things in a mix;
- impoverished conditions,
- relationship struggles and finances.
- It causes extra stress and strain on, Black fathers, and their relationships with their kids.
Myrna – I actually just started reading Mike Tyson’s book “Undisputed Truth”. If you want to hear about a messed up Black family with no role models, this is the book to read. I couldn’t believe all the stuff that Mike Tyson lived through as a child without a, Black father, and an, absentee dad. How can, Black Dads, have a relationship with their kids and a relationship as a husband when all they know is dysfunction?
A Guide for Black Fathers
Why did you write the book “Reclaim your Visibility: A Straightforward Guide for Black Men to Improve Themselves and their Relationship with your Children?
Dr Carl – I wrote this book simply because of this: I got it wrong for many years and I want to assist in the idea of, black fathers, not having to go through being an, absentee dad, and learn from my mistakes. My eldest daughter and I had a very rocky path and I don’t want that to go in vain. I don’t want to just talk about the plight of, Black Fatherhood, I want to do something about it. If I can help one, Black Father, have a better relationship with their child or children, then it’s totally worth it.
Myrna – What makes your guide book different from all the other, Fatherhood, books?
Dr Carl – I am not the old wise man on top of the mountain talking to the village. The reason why this book is different is I literally started to repair my relationship with my eldest daughter this past summer. So this book is about real life, not theory.
Myrna – A lot of, Black Fathers, are, absentee dads. Do you think that they can repair the damage and build back a relationship with their children?
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Dr Carl – Absolutely! We can’t always take it back; but we have to learn from these mistakes and move on. That is the basis of the book and that’s why it’s called “A Straightforward Guide for Black Fathers to Improve Themselves and their Relationships with their Children” Because a lot of times, black fathers, need healing ourselves.
How to offer support for Black Father in College
Myrna – You mentioned that you did a doctoral thesis and research on Black Fathers in Colleges. Tell us about that.
Dr Carl – The dissertation is actually on, Black Student Fathers, and their persistence and perseverance in community Colleges. I was a community college, Black Father, with a child and a lot of times, these schools have programs for mothers; but no guidance for, Black Dads. I wanted to do something different and focus on this very specific population, black student fathers, in community college settings.
Myrna – Tell us about your media company – Stokes Media LLC.
Dr Carl – In the media piece, I do several things. This is my official company where I do speaking engagements, seminars conferences, trainings and mentoring. The other sides of my books are self-published. I’m also assisting other people to help get their stories out and become published Authors. So the whole Stokes Media concept embodies all those things.
Myrna – Tell our listeners and those watching on YouTube how to contact you and get a copy of your book.
Dr Carl – The easiest way to contact me is to go directly to my website www.drcarlstokesjr.com. You can go right to the contact page and fill out the inquiry form. You can ask questions, leave comments/feedback or whatever you want to do.
Myrna – You also mentor, Black Fathers, at a non-profit organization. Tell us about that.
Dr Carl – I actually do, parenting classes, for an agency here in Buffalo called the “Family Help Center”. So when parents are looking for assistance, I help.
How Co-parenting can help Black Fathers stay visible
Myrna – When you do the, parenting classes, can you walk us through some of your subjects or the things that you talk about? In this conversation we’ve been focusing on, Black Fathers, but all fathers can benefit from your book and, parenting. What advise would you give them?
Dr Carl – I would say the number one advice I would give to parents is on, co-parenting. I don’t care if you don’t get along, I don’t care if all broke up because he was doing this or doing that. What’s important is the child or the children. We have to learn to get along for the sake of the children and be fair to each other for the sake of the children. Your children are witnessing and understanding these arguments, these disagreements, these accusations and things like that.
We tend to think that the kids are stupid and they’re not listening to anything. Let me tell you, they’re taking in everything, they’re taking in how you feel, they’re taking in the energy that you’re putting out and they are internalizing the things that they’re hearing. So, co-parenting, is key especially in our community we have to get that fixed.
What is the message for Black Fathers
Myrna – What is the message that you want them to take away with when they close the book?
Dr Carl – The predominant message of the book if I had to break it down into one main theme, I would say I would want my, black fathers, to understand how important we are to the situation. As a foundation of the family, to us being better as a community as a whole. Black Fathers, are so valuable, we are so important, we have to take care of ourselves, we have to get over this idea of stepping back or I can’t deal with this.
We have to understand how meaningful it is for us to be around and holding down our families. We hold down our households, our households work together to hold down our neighborhoods, our neighborhoods hold it down together to hold down our communities and it spreads on like that.
We don’t need to worry about or hope for everybody else to do this for us, we can do it ourselves; but it starts with us being in the house and visible to our kids. Even if you don’t live in the house, I’m just saying the presence of involvement is necessary. Not everybody is going to be together, and that’s why we talk about, co-parenting. Our presence is so valuable, we have to make sure that we handle our business as a, black father.
Myrna – Where can they get the book?
Dr Carl – You can get the book on Amazon Kindle. If you want a signed copy you can get it from me directly at www.drcarlstokesjunior.com.
If anybody wants the Audio book, go to my site www.drcarlstonesjr.com. Order the Audio book and there’s a free sample on there.
Enter the code “stay visible2021” and you’ll get 25% off of the Audio book.
Black Fathers, are important to the community. Any father is important to the community; but we’re concentrating on our community, the black community. Our community is jacked up. Like you said you go to your friend’s house and they’ve got a mom and a dad and food in the kitchen and everybody is getting along. You’re not outside throwing things at each other and having the police come by and all that which is a lot of which is the lifestyle of some children in the, black community.
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