Don’t be a question mark in your kids’ life

Sean Williams, Fatherhood Activist, Africa Fatherhood Initiative

Sean Williams, who has changed his role from creative director to full-time activist, honors Black fathers each and every day.

For Father’s Day, the Dad Gang is organizing a “March of Dads”. A photo of the marchThis picture was taken by Katherine Frey of The Washington Post/Getty Images.

Four years ago, Sean Williams, proud father of three–Davynn, 15, Cameron, 4, and Ethan, 3–was inspired to create the @TheDadGang Instagram page after a woman in his mainly white neighborhood praised him for being an involved dad. She commented that “most Black men wouldn’t” stay around.

Williams noticed that what this one person was saying reflected what many others were feeling. He and some other African American fathers decided to combat this idea by posting pictures of fathers engaged in activities with their children. This ultimately created a community of support.

Statistics may indicate that more than half of Black children live in single-parent households, however this does not indicate that the majority of Black fathers are absent. Williams states, “Fatherhood is a blessing. We are trying to defy the notion that we are inactive. You don’t need to live in the same house as your children’s mother to be present.” According to Williams, he coparents with Davynn’s mother, and is married to Cameron and Ethan’s mother.

According to Chance the Rapper, parents are here for a purpose: to be a force for good. He believes that individuals born at this time have been given a special opportunity to raise their children in a way that can create positive change. He states that it is the responsibility of parents to use their influence to create a better world for their children.

Williams, who is based in New York City, has made managing his Dad Gang brand his primary job, which entails handling its many components, such as the website. His primary objective is to encourage fathers. He states that “any man who is lucky enough to have a child should consider parenthood the most important thing in his life.” This is why The Dad Gang has developed its scope to support fathers from all backgrounds and to inspire them to be excellent dads.

Williams details the objectives of The Dad Gang and the outcome that has been realized so far.

What is the source of the story of the absent Black father?

Media, be it news outlets or television programming, has a habit of depicting Black mothers as single moms. This is because fathers tend to be absent in these cases, as evident when Googling fatherhood, where mostly white dads show up. When searching Black fatherhood, the first results are usually articles about the “missing in action” of these dads.

It is undeniable that there are numerous African American men incarcerated, and due to systemic racism, many households have had fathers taken away. We are all aware of how harshly the US has treated Black individuals, particularly the Black family. However, we are also trying to break the stereotype that being an absent father automatically equals being inactive. Being a devoted and involved dad is possible even if living in the same house is not.

Beverly Johnson, a renowned fashion icon, is taking the lead in the fight against racial injustice, this time for her grandchildren. She is blazing trails of progress and making a difference.

Are you in the 24/7 Dad Gang?

This year I’m the Founder and CEO of The Dad Gang, a serious career that has multiple facets. I take care of the event coordination and all of the collaborations we have with various companies, as well as all of the content pieces. Additionally, I manage the merchandise, sales, shipping, and the whole process of having a brand.

I am responsible for overseeing the community of fathers that need assistance. It is essential that I not only make suggestions of where they can find help, but also make sure that the information given is accurate and that the advice provided is effective.

Are your offspring aware of The Dad Gang?

The kids have been an integral part of growing The Dad Gang, from creating content to attending team meetings and events. My older daughter even helps me edit, giving her a unique perspective on the business and how it has come to be. Being a part of all the stages of development gives them an understanding of how this brand, business, and movement was built from the ground up.

One of the most unexpected aspects of The Dad Gang has been…

At first, I was unaware of the influence my creation would have on the Black community. My purpose was to post pictures of myself, my buddies, and any other dads that wanted to take part in the hashtags. I desired to spread the images so that the idea of being a Black dad in the U.S. would become more commonplace. Surprisingly, individuals began to reach out to me for assistance in their own parenting journeys—something I had not anticipated.

The way we communicate about fathers can add to the psychological strain placed on mothers. This is an article that looks into how conversations about dads can affect the mental load of mothers.

Do you receive any communication from mothers?

We have received an abundance of direct messages from single mothers asking for advice in raising their two boys. I felt a strong obligation to help these women, so I began to reply to their messages. This has since evolved into a project; we are working to create a resource or program for single mothers. This could involve bringing together dads in each city who are willing to act as a father figure to those boys without a dad. We are now attempting to figure out how to implement this in the best way possible.

Are you witnessing a transformation in the story due to The Dad Gang?

Indeed, individuals are beginning to perceive the brand and associate it with Black fathers. Fathers from our community are increasingly becoming viewed as extraordinary caregivers, which is a welcome development.

An adaptation of this piece was featured in the October 2020 edition of Parents magazine as “#DadGoals”. If you’re looking for more from the magazine, subscribe for one month of print issues.

  1. […] African Fathers Initiative (AFI) 2008 survey of state responsible fatherhood efforts, reported that very few African states had even considered the vital role of fath… in the previous two […]

  2. […] answer is we simply do not know. A contributing factor to both low commitment and knowledge about fatherhood is the low numbers of fathers who register their names on their children’s birth […]

  3. […] in the week, when we’d all be called awake at nearly midnight to feast on his treat.Being a father myself has been both rewarding and challenging. I have made mistakes and had moments of doubt and frustration, but I always come back to the fact […]

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Children without involved fathers, or a significant older male father figure, are at great risk of both perpetrating and becoming victims of violence - both as children and adults - and of becoming victims of substance abuse; teen pregnancy; poor academic achievement; mental health problems and delinquency.

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