December 30th, 2009 21:01 EST
Anita Royston Up Close and Personal
Why are there so few African-American students in colleges today? There are two reasons. The first? High absenteeism, black fathers are in jail and/or in drugs, etc. And the other? The stereotypes the media continues to portray them as criminals, thieves, hustlers, and bling-bling players thanks to hip-hop and rap that does more harm than good. However, Anita Royston hopes to dispel the myth in Our Black Fathers, Brave, Bold, and Beautiful.
"There are a lot of people who don`t go that way" the co-author said. "We have had white females who have said that until reading the book and/or attending book discussions that all they ever knew about black men was that they were thugs and did not care about their children.
"Also, black men have commented with tears in their eyes that it is about time someone said something good about black men/black fathers". But, she states, "with all that negative image, some fathers have bought into the stereotype and defeatedly they say `Why try? Maybe I am, Maybe I can`t`. ... People bought into the stereotype. It`s necessary; it has to change. In our book, we cover about 150 years worth of fathers."
These stories include the oldest living father at 112. An angry black man who decided to make a change for his daughter, and one written by Anita`s son on fathers being there for their children -- whether he is with the child`s mother or not. "There are stories of transformation, what it means to be a good man and father" she continues.
Anita and her siblings even found a kindred spirit in "America`s Favorite TV Dad", Bill Cosby.
"What I enjoyed", she goes on, "were the similarities between the show and my life growing up. We had 10 kids and not much money. Heathcliff Huxtable loved his family; tried to do some plumbing to save money; my dad did that too with the same bad though humorous results.
"A lot of people feel like, `Oh, this isn`t real`. We heard stories of abuse, and fathers not being there. We didn`t have the money, like the Huxtables, but watching The Cosby Show gives you hope. It starts with family and love."
And speaking of hope, family, and love, what about President Obama?
"Presidents haven`t moved as fast as he has" Anita comments. "He hit the ground running! He`s more human than what we are used to. Anyone looking to change the status quo is going to be criticized. What his religion is does not matter. It matters that he`s there for the people. The world will embrace him because he`s a breath of fresh air, and he delivers love.
Though change has come for the first black President, the world still has a long road ahead, for change begins and ends with us.
"There`s always going to be a `reason` to hate" Anita responds. "It seems someone has to be better than someone else. I do not understand how you cannot like someone without getting to know him first. But one of the great things about President Obama is that he shows that black men care about people and politics.
"There`s still that double standard, and I think the powers that feel that it`s important to maintain and control an underclass. Black father still have to press beyond obstacles to be there for their children and wives. There are so many negatives, so knowing you`re criminalized, that empowers black fathers from going out there. We really want to change the mindset of the nation and the world. Black men`s legacies have to be preserved read and heard."
You can get in touch with Anita Royston at firstname.lastname@example.org.