One of the most persistent statistical bludgeons of people who want to blame black people for any injustice or inequity they encounter is this: According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.), in 2013 in nearly 72 percent of births to non-Hispanic black women, the mothers were unmarried.
It has always seemed to me that embedded in the “If only black men would marry the women they have babies with…” rhetoric was a more insidious suggestion: that there is something fundamental, and intrinsic about black men that is flawed, that black fathers are pathologically prone to desertion of their offspring and therefore largely responsible for black community “dysfunction.”
In one of his more interesting comic sketches, Chris Rock compares one group of African Americans, "niggas," to another more wholesome group, "black people." "You know what really bugs me about niggas is the way they always take credit for stuff a normal man would just do," says Rock. "Like, 'I raised my kids.'"
By Rock's definition, I know exactly where I belong among African Americans today. For I am sure that even for this meager deed of fatherhood I am performing, I deserve a lot more than credit. My mission sounds simple enough: carting my young son through West Manhattan to visit another friend, working in Chelsea. I have logged enough baby hours to earn the title "stay-at-home dad," so I'm not exactly new to this. But our trek into the city elicits terror because of three converging factors: 1.) I am a hefty 6'4" black male--- anything can happen. 2.) It's Manhattan---everything might happen. 3.) My son is 7 months old---something always happens.
When I revealed Leah’s battle with cancer to the public and put my football career on hiatus, people called me a hero. But I’ve never thought of myself in that way. I think of myself as a father who would do anything to care for his child. If that makes me a hero, then it’s time to acknowledge every dad who puts his children’s needs before his own. Any father wants what’s best for his children—but it doesn’t end there.