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Black Daddies Club Weekly: African-Centered Fatherhood

6 December 2010 219 views 2 Comments

By Victor Beausoleil

Victor with his kids at a Toronto FC game for a BDC Daddies and Me event.

Dr. Molefi Asante defines Africentricity as “a mode of thought and action in which the centrality of African interests, values, and perspectives predominate. In regards to theory, it is the placing of African people in the centre of any analysis of African phenomena.” As a husband and father to three beautiful children, I am truly blessed to be able to play such an important role in helping to shape their lives in this challenging and complex world. I recently wrote the following words in my daily planner:

“Ancestral accountability is the premise of all parental and social responsibility for an African-Canadian Father. For me, the nurturing of and caring for healthy children begins with the full understanding and acceptance of the implications of a healthy and a balanced family that is contributing to the overall health of the African-Canadian community.”

Successful early childhood development can positively transform communities, cities and countries. African-Canadian fathers in Toronto remain in a constant state of war with the stereotypical generalizations associated with black fathers, such as misnomers like ‘baby daddies’, as well as the negative media portrayal of black fathers as neglectful and irresponsible. However – and in spite of the inevitable attacks on our ability to father our children – the call of black fatherhood must transcend personal ambitions and remain rooted in the notion that our future leaders (the children) must be prepared and courageous….

There are many social factors that contribute to family problems and dysfunctional fatherhood in our community, such as racism against African-Canadian men; unemployment; shattered self-image; poor community support structures for men; damaging media stereotypes; the dearth of positive, Black male role models; the disintegration of the values system that sustained us in Africa; and a lack of personal responsibility by some Black men. Yet, despite these and other considerable challenges, there are still many inspiring and persistent examples of healthy, balanced, responsible fatherhood all across the African-Canadian community.

As a 27-year-old father of three children, I often reminisce on my lessons.

My father taught me – among many other important life lessons – to be early if you can’t be on time, the correct way to treat a woman and to have a relentless work ethic. My Ancestors continue to inspire me because of their resilience and valor. How can I articulate these principles to my children if I am absent? The plight of the African-Canadian community can be critically analyzed from multiple perspectives related to social and systemic barriers, colonization, and misrepresentation through the electronic and print media. For all these reasons and more, the struggle to redeem black fatherhood must be waged on multiple fronts.

Victor with his wife

African-Canadian fathers must ensure that they have the tools and supports to be healthy and culturally competent to raise their children. I believe that a strong family matrix and good support system, a sound knowledge of self and a healthy values-based approach form the foundation of effective fatherhood. The positive, productive and respectful relationship with the African woman is at the core of African-centered fatherhood. An African-centered father must remain the prime example of how to reflect and reciprocate the leadership of African women. The value system that children should be exposed to must highlight the importance of sharing, respect for elders, love of learning, commitment to excellence in everything, an African worldview, a healthy African identity and self-image, and a positive, winning mentality.

Toronto is crying out for the African-Canadian father to stand up and not only announce but to loudly (and unapologetically) declare our presence and our ability to support and assist the marginalized and under-served communities throughout our great city. A true African-centered father knows that the children in his home are not the only children he must raise. The young man getting on the TTC with his hat covering his eyes might need mentoring and support. The boy crossing the street, walking with no sense of purpose, might need some guidance. The child standing next to you in the lobby of your apartment complex might also be in need of love. There are currently many services, programs and initiatives that support the healthy development of African fathers, such as the Black Daddies Club, the Yensumo Youth and Community Development’s Rites of Passage process, the Lions Circle, the More than a Haircut Barbershop program and many more. Through these and other such organizations, we can fully embrace our responsibilities as men and fathers.

Our social and moral obligation to all our children is embodied in the African Proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go together”. As African-centered fathers, we must create a new cultural framework of peer and communal accountability to ensure that no child is left behind.

Victory and the family

Victor Beausoleil is devoted husband and a father of three. Victor is known in throughout Toronto as a mentor to many and personifies the true meaning of leadership in the black community. Victor is also a member of the Black Daddies Club

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  • sofree roots said:

    Victor – i am so moved by what u present. it is a magnificent manifesto bringing the shivers and tears of being before a great overstandin, vision and potential. may this deeply integral and brilliant framework root and sprout much healin, alignment and empowerment!!! many prolific blessins on yur crucial JahWorks!


  • Karim Grant said:

    A very big shout out to Victor for this timely, engaging and enlightening article. As the numbers of black youth killed by gun violence soars at alarming rate, this piece refocuses our attention back to the foundation of paternal obligations that must be met by ALL of our fathers, whether biological or socially inherited. Much respect for the knowledge, bro.

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