Between the oft cited statistic that shows two out of three Black children living apart from their fathers, and the often oversimplified media portraits of Black dads who “walk away” from their children, the most common image of Black fatherhood is that of absence. In the upcoming anthology Bet on Black: African-American Women Celebrate Fatherhood in the Age of Barack Obama, 20 writers reflect on dads who editor Kenrya Rankin Naasel describes as “Black men who are committed, integral parts of their families.”

“As a woman who was raised by a single Black dad who made it his obsessive duty to help his daughters flourish, I think it’s key to tell the rest of the story,” says Rankin Naasel. “I don’t deny that there are some dismal statistics out there about single-parent households and stories for days about Black mothers holding it down alone, but I know firsthand that the stereotype doesn’t tell the entire story. Beyond what others think of our families, I feel it’s more important that we see them as strong, cohesive units, worthy of our energy and our protection.”