The great folks at Colorlines are currently running an extensive, brilliant and insightful series on Black Men: Life Cycles of Inequity. This week’s re-blogged article by Stacia L. Brown focuses on Black fatherhood. It first appeared on Colorlines.com on November 18 2014.
Thirty-five-year-old Tyrone Hopkins is like any number of black men I’ve known growing up in Baltimore. Sit down with him for a few minutes and he’ll talk to you like he’s known you forever. Everyone who lives in Baltimore says it’s like a big town, rather than a major urban city. “Smalltimore,” residents sometimes call it, because you can’t go far without finding a link to someone you’ve never met—a shared acquaintance, a common experience or a neighborhood connection. It’s like that with Hopkins, too. Ask him something personal and, if he’s cool with you, he’ll be candid, funny and cordial—even if it’s a difficult topic to discuss, like the ups and downs of life as a single black father.
Hopkins is one of four men I spoke to about being an unmarried working-class dad in Baltimore City. We met in late October during one of the weekly parenting classes he attends at the Center for Urban Families, along with a couple dozen other black fathers. The class is part of the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project, a four-month program that provides low-income black fathers with the help they need to show up for their families—stuff like job training, counseling and the support of other men like themselves.