Navigating patriarchy as a black man

This year’s Father’s Day will be June 19th or June 16th, a federal holiday commemorating the liberation of blacks enslaved in the United States after the Civil War. And for Michael D. Hanon, an associate professor of counseling at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ, it’s a “great coincidence.”

“We can celebrate the black father who is doing his best to protect, provide and prepare his family for success, and the black spirit, resilience and freedom of the country. I acknowledge the pursuit, “he said.

Dr. Hanon, a self-proclaimed father of “two dope black children,” an 18-year-old son and a 19-year-old daughter, has been counseling black fathers for the past decade. And as the editor of the new book “Black Fathers and Mental Health,” he is now trying to raise the voice of his black father, who is also a mental health counselor, and his ambitious father. Through a series of essays, each writer provides a unique perspective on the needs, challenges and victories of black fathers in the “anti-black world.”

While this book serves as a resource to help other counselors provide culturally positive and relevant support to black fathers, the personal story of the collection is aimed at the general audience. It is said that. ..

“It shouldn’t be this difficult, right?” S., one of the professors of counselor education and school psychology at the University of Central Florida. I asked Kent Butler. “No, I’m not right. When it comes to our blackness, there’s little easy about self-acceptance or acceptance of others. So where does strength and resilience come from? What’s okay? I think it’s my tribe. “

Questions and answers have been edited and summarized for clarity.

What made you decide to make this book? And why now?

Much of the research I do is about black fathers. So, frankly, this is the first time in a while. I really wanted to do at least three things.

The first was to amplify the voice of the black father. Limit.

Second, I wanted to allow others to read and hear these voices in ways they never had before.

And third, all the people who wrote the chapters in this book are mental health professionals. I asked them to answer some very specific questions: what would be useful for a mental health professional treating or providing a client for a black father? What influenced their father’s customs? Did they seek counseling support when they faced challenges or obstacles? And if so, what did they learn? And if they didn’t, what stopped them?

Linwood G. Vereen, an associate professor of counseling education at the University of Shippensberg, Pennsylvania, and one of the essays with five interracial children, wrote: I have learned that it is okay to release the unrealistic expectations of others who hurt my soul and that my black life is important. I learned that my children not only need to be successful in life, but they also have to learn humility by seeing their father show humility. “

Tell us more about why it was especially important for you to pick up the voice of your black father.

It’s very easy to consume content about black men that focuses on some of the challenges that are systematically placed in front of us.

You know the stereotypes of an absent black father, or the overexpression of a black man being imprisoned. But there is a much more subtle, rich and complex set of experiences that black men have. Who the black men are in the context of their community, and which of them to their biological children, and their fictional relatives, or the children they “play uncle” and “play cousin” There is a lot to know, understand, and appreciate about how to serve.

And that’s important. Because we are all stereotyped and prejudiced. No one deserves it. You may go to a pediatrician with your child, or a medical professional may say you were surprised to see you. Or perhaps go to the appointment of another specialist with your partner and the medical professional or specialist will not even ask you a question. Custody cases can also occur in the court system, which can prevent black fathers from engaging as much as they want.

Is there a jewel of wisdom from a book that might help a black father?

We are socialized to be the guardians of our families and partners. To feed our children and their families. And prepare them for success. And that’s a lot of pressure. And, in many cases, that ability has been influenced by someone’s socio-economic profile. What we now know is that fathers, especially black fathers, are contributing in a much broader way than financial offerings and are finding ways to provide emotionally to their children. I can’t exaggerate how important they are.

“My kids are examples of posters of strong, graceful, resilient, fearless and powerful, and most of the time they use their agency in a way that doesn’t apologize.” Wrote Dr. Vereen. “My greatest hope as their father is that they always do this.”

How can a black father protect his mental health?

It is not easy. What I remind all black fathers, and the general public, is that we must find people and spaces that allow us to be as transparent as possible. We have to find a community.

For me, personally, whether a counselor or a fraternity brother, my network of professionals has a group of men who I can go to, cruelly honest, and as vulnerable as I need to. .. It allows me to share all the victories and what I want to celebrate — and it also allows me to share the most challenging and most vulnerable parts of my experience.

If you just hit a wall and can’t cross or cross it, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional counselor to help you set a goal and reach that goal. Other than that.

“I definitely asked for counseling when I needed it, but sometimes I didn’t,” Dr. Butler of the University of Central Florida wrote in an essay.

“I looked for a family counseling service to support my son-in-law, which was very helpful to us as a family and to me as his father,” he said. “I remembered that I don’t have all the answers and I shouldn’t expect to have them all.”

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