Myth: Most black kids are fatherless

A section of All In focuses on this myth.

In fact, by far the majority of black fathers live with their children. A CDC study found that about 2.5 million black dads live with their kids, while about 1.7 million officially don’t.

However, when you count by the number of children, rather than the number of fathers, a different picture emerges. Slightly more than half of black children are listed as being in homes with a single parent, usually the mother. This is due, in part, to “non-coresidential” fathers having more children.

Also, black children are more likely than others to have unmarried parents.

But neither of these factors makes a child fatherless. Many children whose parents are unmarried and/or live separately still see their fathers regularly.

Meanwhile, among fathers who live with their children, black fathers are statistically the most involved, the CDC study found. The lead researcher told me it marks “the debunking of the black-fathers-being absent myth.”

Fatherlessness is a bigger problem statistically in the black community than among other racial groups.  That speaks to all sorts of systemic issues including the incarceration crisis.  For All In, I spent time interviewing dads in jail.  There’s also an entire chapter in which a formerly absentee dad explains where he went wrong and how he worked hard to repair relationships with his kids.

But the upshot remains: No, most black kids are not fatherless.