For decades, the Black community has been beaten over the head with statistics and reports surrounding the absence of Black fathers within the community. There have been dissertations and investigations about the impact that single-parent households have on Black people as a whole. However, these statistics often seem to ignore the entire picture. In fact, when stacked up against white America, these numbers are nearly even. 33% of Black fathers live with at least one of their kids in comparison to 36% of white fathers. Also, though 70% of Black babies are born to unmarried mothers as opposed to 35% of white babies, only 50% of long-term couples in the United States are actually legally married. Paperwork or lack thereof does not necessarily negate fatherhood. In his heartfelt and often humorous documentary, “Fatherless,” “Grace and Frankie” actor and comedian Baron Vaughn, explores his own life without his biological father as he goes on a quest in search for the man he’s never met.
Raised by his mother, grandmother and maternal great- grandparents, Baron grew up in the 1980’s at a time when Blackness in America, particularly in the midst of the crack cocaine epidemic and the war on drugs was under attack. Baron recalls idolizing comedians, Richard Pryor, Robert Townsend, Eddie Murphy, the Wayans, and Bill Cosby, who all became theoretical father figures to him. And yet, it was his great-grandfather, Poppa Richard, a towering Baptist deacon who raised him during his early youth, that made the most formidable impression on him. A man who built his home with his bare hands, Baron recalls worshiping his great-grandfather and clinging on to him and the church community that welcomed him with open arms.
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