We know from a mountain of comparative empirical research that when you have fathers absent from the lives of children it makes a fundamental difference. In fact, John J. Dilulio of the University of Pennsylvania has presided over a series of empirical studies External Link that document that father absence is the single most important predictor of whether or not a kid is going to get involved in forms of anti-social activity.
- Reverend Eugene Rivers
Startling statistics from the 2001 Canadian census indicate that 46% of Black children were growing up in homes with only one parent versus 18% of the general population. As the above quote from Rev. Eugene Rivers outlines, there are demonstrated links between the absence of fathers in the home and social ills, especially amongst Black boys.
One Toronto young event planner and Black father of three, Brandon Hay, decided to tackle this issue head on by spearheading a new community initiative called “The Black Daddies Club”. Hay, who has lived in Malvern for 17 years after spending his early years in Jamaica being raised by a devoted mother and grandmother but frequently absent father, knows only too well about the hurt and perils of growing up without a father figure.
During a recent Black Daddies Club community meeting in the heart of Kensington Market, Brandon Hay said that he missed his father’s presence even for basic things such as learning how to shave. So his motivation, as he describes it, is to break the old cycles of absentee fathers by creating a forum and support group to help generate new positive cycles that are spiritually grounded.
The Black Daddies Club is meeting monthly through panel discussions towards the planning of a main event slated for June 29th, 2008 (venue to be announced). It will be an all-day event which will include a Luncheon, workshops, keynote speakers and panel discussions, live entertainment, and prize give-a-ways.
The series of meetings leading up to June, as Hay explains, are about principles of support, guidance, and mentorship. The mentorship program is tailored for youth and young adults aged between 16-24. The aim is to provide them with a support system bolstered by accomplished mentors available for shadowing and guidance.
There are also opportunities for fathers to discuss and share their challenges and accomplishments. These open discussions lend themselves well for the path towards the healing of broken father-son relationships. Brandon Hay himself had reconciled with his father around the time of the birth of his first child before losing him violently five years ago. There was also a moving story by dynamic community organizer Michael Forrest who told the group about his emotional reunion with his father which was documented for Caribbean television as “The Michael Green Story”.