Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review: Bet On Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood In The Age Of Barack Obama~Edited by Kenrya Rankin Naasel

In the world of autism we are chronically used to being misunderstood and stereotyped. So much so that it becomes a cycle we sometimes perpetuate ourselves.

I happen to truly love many people with autism and want to be part of a change.

In the world of black fathers, there are also chronic misunderstandings and stereotypes. So much so that it sometimes becomes a cycle they then perpetuate themselves.

I happen to truly love a black father—my husband—and stand consistently beside him as I help him work to be part of a change.

So when I learned that Kenrya Rankin Naasel had recently created and edited the book Bet On Black:African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood In The Age Of Barack Obama, inspired by President Barack Obama’s commitment to supporting responsible fathers, my heart couldn’t help but hope. Then when Kenrya offered to let me read and review the book, I’ll admit that I was equally excited and anxious. Just as Kenrya’s passion for this important book encouraged her to do the hard work of growing it into a reality, my belief in its potential to change lives and make a difference in the future of my own half-black son who will one day—hopefully!—be a black dad (partially), had me feeling a bit nervous for such high hopes. Of course, I have my own agenda and can’t expect another author/editor to know my wants or even consider them worth working their words for. So I hoped, carefully.

Well, my anxiety was quickly put to rest. Reading this collection of personal essays written by twenty different women with equal respect for fatherhood became nothing but fascinating, enlightening, and encouraging!

In this beautiful book Kenrya has gathered stories of fatherhood and family that couldn’t be more diverse. Each essay reveals different versions of love and expectation, offering honest insights about family and what it means to be a father.

I was also thrilled to immerse myself in African-American culture. Having been married to my husband for nearly thirteen years, all the while trying to fit in with his children from a previous marriage and live comfortably close to his ex-wife (who is also black), I have come to understand that there truly is an innate difference in our cultures. Differences that I hope to always celebrate, even when I can’t always understand them. As anyone who’s followed my writing knows, I adore difference and am an advocate for integration without expectation of assimilation.

Bet On Black Dads mirrors what my heart hopes to share!

While reading the stories, a portrait of very human fathers is revealed. Dads who step-up and always remain real. By the end of the book we have learned from dads who struggle to break a cycle, encourage independence and self-respect in their daughters, and example the truth that where there’s a desire to be an active father, there is always a way to do so; despite poverty, location, mistakes, support, or society’s expectations and portrayals.

With so many women sharing their dads candidly, revealing years of evolving ideas and lessons learned, it’s easy to find your own story reflected. You begin to fashion an intention in the way you see your own father, the way you respect and expect the fathering of your own children, and how you want to grow your own sons into eventual dads.

This collection of daughter/father bonds from twenty contributing women, who write with candor and skill, invites laughter, tears, and reflection.  You begin to realize that there are never-ending styles to fatherhood, and you are encouraged to have confidence while discovering the foundation of fatherhood in your own world.

Bet On Black Dads is a book that I am thrilled to share with my own family, and truly hope you will consider sharing with yours. Regardless of race, culture, or style—celebrating fatherhood is always a healthy choice and an important way to engage in community. And when we can encourage the breaking of some unfortunate stereotypes—which teach dangerous misinformation to our sons and daughters—then we are doing some important parenting ourselves!

After all, our sons and daughters are growing into this world and learning—regardless of neurology—who to be and how to expect to be treated. If we tell the story with intention, as the contributors of Bet On Black Dads have done beautifully, then we give our children the tools to write a future filled with strong families who boast proud and diverse fathers.

That is a story I plan to be an active character in.
Please consider getting your own copy of Bet On Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood In The Age Of Barack Obama and sharing it widely!

Book Title: Bet On Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood In The Age Of Barack Obama
Cover Design: April Foxx
Cover Photo: ASSOCIATED PRESS-Jacquelyn Martin
Publisher: Kifani Incorporated
Buy the Book for Kindle on Amazon
Follow Kenrya on Twitter: @kenrya
Check out her blog: