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Changing the stereotype

caines | 1/4/2012, 7:30 a.m.

Not all Black men are deadbeat fathers

Raising a family with two parents in the house can be stressful enough being a single parent, especially a single Black father, can be an even more daunting task. According to recent data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, 21.2 million children (26 percent) are growing up in a household with only one custodial parent. However, among Blacks the number rises significantly 48.5 percent live with one parent. Whats more, most custodial parents are mothers (84 percent); just one-in-six custodial parents (16 percent) are fathers. What are some of the factors that impact Black fathers and therefore Black families: poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, adolescent sex; educational achievement; and crime. But despite these obstacles and reasons why more Black men do not live or lack of positive relationship with their children, there still remain glimmers of hope. Royden Sampson, Sr., 54, who lives in Miami, was left with the arduous task of raising his son alone after his wife died from diabetes-related complications. Being a single parent has its benefits and its tough times, Sampson, Sr. said. But for me, being a single parent during this time period where we see our kids being shot and getting into trouble is a little easier when you have a son like I have. Sampson, Sr. has been a painter for Jackson Health System for nearly 25 years. In 2007, his wife passed lost her battle with diabetes. He admits it has not been easy. The experience of being a single parent really opened up my eyes to what it is really like, he said. You have to raise a child by yourself and bring everything into the house from A to Z. Its certainly something I never planned to do but I think it helped me become a better man. His son is his only child and is a 16-year-old honor student and rising senior at Hialeah High School. Growing up in a single parent home made me want to achieve more and strive harder, young Sampson said. Since Dad is a single father I try to do well in school to make him happy and be the best person that I can be for the future. I plan to go to college to study aerospace science and engineering after I graduate. I have been interested in this field since I was five. I remember being on a flight to Alabama and the pilot allowed me to come inside the cockpit I liked what I saw and decided to do some research on his job. Thats where my interest really began. Marcus Parks, 29, who has one son, Marcus Parks, II, 3, says the biggest challenge in being a single father is overcoming the stereotypes associated with Black dads. Many people dont know the struggle that I go through as a single Black father, Parks said. When people think of Black fathers they probably think that we are extinct. The toughest part about being a single dad is living with that reality. Kent Stan Williams, 40, who has 10-year-old twin daughters, Denise and Crystal Williams, says he is proud to be a single father despite what people may think. My daughters mean the world to me, he said. When my wife and I divorced five years I got custody of my children and it was one of the best days of my life. Sometimes it can get a little rough raising twins, especially girls, but I love them. I know more Black fathers need to be around for their kids and I am trying to set the right kind of example. By Randy Gricergrice@miamitimesonline.com