As a young black man growing up in the UK there are a lot of stereotypes that we have to face on a daily basis. So when I was asked to present a Radio 1Xtra documentary Like Father, Like Son? about young black fathers I was sure that I wanted to be involved. I felt that some of us get a raw deal today because of the generation of absent fathers before us and I wanted to show people that the stereotype of black fathers not being there for their children was a thing of the past.
Quite a few of my friends grew up without father figures around them. I noticed that in return they wanted to do better by their children - so I was shocked when faced with the statistics from the 2011 Ethnicity and Family Report, stating that as many as 65% of African Caribbean children are raised by a lone parent - nearly always the mother.
I wanted to track down the young African Caribbean fathers who are trying to buck this trend and be there for their children and to try to dispel the negative stereotypes.
I'm a dad & couldn't be more proud of my seven year old son Marcel. He's a handful at the best of times, but I wouldn't and couldn't stay away from him! My dad was always around me and did his best even though he had a drink problem - so knowing all that I don't understand any man not wanting to be in his child's life.
My motivation to be involved in this documentary was to bring some balance to a sensitive issue. Being painted in such a negative light all of the time can only have a damaging effect. I wanted to show that there are young men out there trying to do good by their children and to showcase some of the positive stories.
My visit to the St Michaels Fellowship did this. St Michael's Fellowship in South London is a pioneering project for fathers and fathers-to-be aged between 14 and 25. During my time there I met a range of different fathers - all with varying experiences about being fathers.
I heard some stories of their dads failing them and the reasons they want to break the negative cycle. Some of the men had taken full responsibilities for their children, others had set up a Fathers Day 100 Dads walk in their community to represent fathers walking into their children's lives. The passion for being better fathers than their dads had been to them was evident.
I also met with MP David Lammy - who has been highly vocal in calling for black fathers to be more involved with their children. Upon meeting David I discovered his background & upbringing was similar to my own - growing up in a West Indian household with a father that had a drink problem. David and I shared a lot of similar opinions and bumped heads on others - yet we both share a serious interest in young African Caribbean Dad's.
Listen to Radio 1Xtra Stories: Like Father, Like Son? this Sunday 24 March at 9pm on BBC Radio 1Xtra to find out if I had to swallow a pill of truth & face up to the statistics.
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