In order to truly move the needle from a fatherless trend to a FatherFULL trend in America – we will need to work with fathers, mothers, children, and extended family. This is how we will be using the two-generation approach in our work. This approach is foundational to everything we do, so we will act as a model of the movement. The construct of Diversity Dynamics offers an effective communication tool and a bridge among people, organizations, community, and government/systems.
The focus of Diversity Dynamics is to empower fathers by giving them a platform to share their voice and connect to and navigate the resources, opportunities, information, and organizations in their communities. We work to ensure dads can trust the quality, intentions, and contribution of what we connect them to. More importantly, our products and services are designed to strengthen fathers’ relationships with their children, families, and communities. We also strengthen their relationships professionally and economically through the creation of an online and offline network which offers dads support through advice and stories and enables them – across ethnic, political, class, or any other often divisional factors – to be a part of a common vision: One Healthy Generation of Whole Children.
Our goal is to implement our fatherhood development initiative in metropolitan areas across the United States, building a tribe of one father, child, and family at a time. The model for this comprehensive initiative will be beta-tested in the Denver Metro region.Within the next five years (hopefully sooner) we want to organize the next March on Washington – The Million Father March – where we will unveil our plan, with our families and children voices included. The plan is to stand for, inspire action towards, and create solutions that will solidify roles, as men and dads, in raising One Healthy Generation of Whole Children. The goal is to do this collectively, with time, talent, treasure, engagement, and voice of each man there. We will also make a stand against stigmas attached to 21st century families. For men of color our call is to make good choices and make good on the choices you make as a father.Finally, we will address the stigma that “well-off” and/or married fathers do not need or deserve support and attention as men and dads because it is clear that they do. All fathers are included in this conversation, so all their children can be healthy and whole.
At the Early Childhood, Health, and Beyond Forum hosted by Ascend at the Aspen Institute in May, one participant asked myself and other parent panelists how we would respond to the political frame of entitlements versus investments in educating low-income families. Improving the educational achievement of parents is never an “entitlement.” It is an investment in contributing members of society who move from high-risk to highly respected. Providing economic stability for families as they accomplish educational goals maybe IS an entitlement – when considering communities of color: it is one that has been promised from the time of the Constitution, but never really fulfilled. And when we consider the wealth that was built from the free labor of slavery which destroyed African-American culture, unity, and self-image, it is an earned entitlement as long as it is given to those striving for new and better opportunity through education. I believe providing opportunities for children and parents to learn together is an investment in the American dream and promise of freedom and equality. The ghettos of America are not free or equal and equality will never be achieved when 11% of a population owns 89% of the wealth.
As I reflect on our work at Diversity Dynamics and the discussions with Ascend and colleagues from across the country at the Forum in May, I think that biggest opportunity areas for two-generation solutions, especially in the African American community, are:
· Include multiple generations and extended family in the definition because it is not just parents and children.
· Bring athletics,arts, and entertainment industries to the table because two-generation work is organically happening there already. There are also spokespeople there who I believe would quickly attach to the framework if communicated well.