By Maya Pope-Chappell

_Be-a-father300.gif If you were to turn on a popular video music channel, you’d probably see a video portraying a Black man either pressed up against some half naked chicks, throwing money in the air, or a combination of both. What you won’t see are healthy images of Black masculinity or fatherhood. In a society where Black masculinity is revered as a commodity, a product that is marketed, sold, and mass consumed, Be A Father to Your Child: Real Talk From Black Men On Family, Love, And Fatherhood is a God-send.

An anthology comprised of essays, interviews, poems, and lyrics, BAF presents personal accounts of fatherhood and manhood from 24 Black men who came of age during the emergence of hip hop culture. Featuring published author Kevin Powell, filmmaker Byron Hurt, Professor Jelani Cobb and a host of other writers, artists, and community activists, BAF presents a rather holistic view of fatherhood. Editor, April R. Silver says: “Editing this project was like a counseling session. There is a sensitivity that you have to have because you’re dealing with men with realy sensitive issues.”

Opening with an insightful discussion of Black masculinity, BAF gives a comprehensive summary of the social ills that negatively affected Black families such as unusually high unemployment and incarceration rates, drug epidemics, and “rolling stone” absent fathers. What comes next are candid interviews and earnest essays that interweave hip hop into an emotionally driven and in-depth dialogue into the meaning of fatherhood. From a narrative of a man coming out to his father to a man who was raised by a sampling of fathers, BAF touches on the challenges and successes of fatherhood.

Aimed at repatching the father/children disconnect that affects many within the hip hop generation, BAF helps to provide insight and understanding to men committed to creating healthy families. The compelling stories that make up this book calls the reader to take an introspective look at their own relationship, or lack thereof with their own father or men who stand in as a father figure.

“This is an ongoing movement,” said Mo Beasly, one of the contributing writers to the book. “There is healing that has to be done and its decades in the making. We need to keep writing and keep telling these stories.”