By Doshon Farad
With the public being constantly bombarded by negative images of black men, one might draw the conclusion that America has lost all hope for this particular group. To counter this, there have been several individuals and groups who have set up initiatives to salvage the image of black men. Syracuse University Professor and Your Black World founder, Dr. Boyce Watkins, is one of the key players in this revolutionary movement. On Thursday, December 6th, he moderated a panel discussion on fatherhood at Harlem’s historic Abyssinian Baptist Church. The event was sponsored by the church’s Youth Ministry Division. The panel was brought together by former NBA player Etan Thomas, author of the book, “Fatherhood: Rising to the Ultimate Challenge.”
The panel brought together a very dynamic cadre of speakers and motivators all of whom are fathers playing active roles in the lives of their children. Panelists included NBA player and author Etan Thomas, former New York Giant David Tyree, Last Poets member Abiobun Oyewole, rapper Stic.Man, ESPN commentator Chris Broussard, actor Chaz Lamar Shepherd, and Billy Hunter who is the Executive Director for the NBA Players Association.
During the discussion each speaker gave what he felt was valuable wisdom in raising children. They covered character, responsibility, spirituality, economics, as well as Hip-Hop culture’s role in raising families. Former Giant, David Tyree, explained the importance of discipline as it pertains to fatherhood.
“Fatherhood comes with the mantle of self-denial”, he explained.
He clarified by saying that any negative thing a father is doing in their personal life should be eliminated as it will impact their children.Tyree also emphasized spirituality as it relates to parenting. He expressed that his life as a devout Christian has played a key role in his child rearing, citing the example of Jesus as being his guide. Chaz Lamar Shepherd chimed in by asking,
“Can we start out with the foundation of being a good person?” explaining that good character is key in being a father.
He also grabbed the audience’s attention when he mentioned that there is a difference between fathering and parenting.
“We have a lot of fathers but not enough parents.”
Shepherd also advised black women not to allow angry attitudes to affect the relationship that their children have with their fathers.
“Make sure that your emotions don’t determine what’s best for the child”, he said.
He made this comment in reference to the negative stereotype of black women using their children to hurt their fathers. Dr. Watkins, while moderating, posed the suggestion of black men mentoring black children who are currently being raised without fathers.
“Just as we had a Wall Street bailout, we need to have a fatherhood bailout”.
At the conclusion of the discussion panelists took questions and comments from the audience. Each panelist agreed that more initiatives would be born out of the night’s conversation.
About Doshon Farad
Doshon Farad is a staff writer for Your Black World and Your Black Bloggers. He writes for several publications. He’s also a broadcast journalist. He can be followed on twitter @doshonfarad. And on Facebook www.facebook.com/doshon.farad You can contact him at [email protected]