Black Fatherhood Stigmas in Media: Effects on Societal Perceptions and Internalization of Stereotypes

Mikael Price


Society often regards Black men as inattentive fathers, absent from their children’s lives. Such stigmas have become the norm over America’s history. This study incorporates two rhetorical analyses of four popular films featuring Black fathers. Using Burke’s Redemptive Cycle, the first analysis posits these films’ efforts to eliminate these stigmas. The second analysis, however, explains how these films inadvertently support these stereotypes, despite their intended mission. I subsequently surveyed adult children of Black fathers, ascertaining their perception and internalization of these stigmas as they relate to their own fathers. Participants were recruited from online discussion forums and historically Black colleges and universities. This survey reveals participants’ general rejection of these stigmas, despite being aware of their presence in society. Additionally, societal Black fatherhood perceptions are associated with participants’ parenting behaviors. This study is significant because it unveils participants’ desires to improve their parenting, while disproving societal stereotypes displayed in film.