#BlackFathersDay: Divergent Media and Black Fathers From YouTube Challenge the Perception of Black Fathers

The perceptions of black fatherhood and stereotypes are being challenged and debunked by two popular black fathers on YouTube. Hip-hop artist Beleaf in Fatherhood and La Guardia Cross came together with Divergent Media in a video series that looks at what it means to be a black father.

As many fathers are celebrated on Sunday during Father’s Day, there’s always the notion that black fathers aren’t present in their children’s lives, but Beleaf’s and La Guardia’s viral videos have proved that wrong.

But you don’t have to be a viral-video star to show that you’re a great black father. There are plenty of other shining examples out there in everyday life. The Root spoke to Austin Null, Divergent Media’s creator, as well as a YouTuber, to discuss why he created the initiative and how he came to pick Beleaf and La Guardia.


The Root: What inspired your company to take on this endeavor?

Austin Null: Divergent Media’s goal is to push for more representation and diversity in advertising by helping brands create more-inclusive advertising campaigns and providing access to amazing creators of color. That being said, whether a brand or budgets are involved or not (and they are not with this campaign), our goal is still the same: to empower creators of color to tell their stories and to push for more representation and diversity within media.

I, personally, as a white male with privilege, have never been assumed to not be a present father for my kids. This can’t be said for my countless friends who are amazing black fathers and family men. Not to mention, the media has been telling us for years that black fathers aren’t around and are just “statistics” and whatnot. So I decided to reach out to multiple black influencers I knew who were fathers and ask them to take my general concept and make it their own, and the results have been nothing short of inspiring.

TR: How did you pick Beleaf and La Guardia Cross?

AN: I’ve reached out to multiple black fathers in the social media space (look forward to seeing more amazing videos as Father’s Day approaches), but Beleaf and La Guardia have both made a name for themselves in the world of family content, and the reality is, that is a hard feat to accomplish as black men with black families.


I also am just completely obsessed with their unique, creative lens through which they tell stories. Beleaf, with a background as a hip-hop artist and spoken-word poet, hit on some important emotional experiences in his video and communicated, filmed his story beautifully. La Guardia communicated a similar message, but with his perfect comedic timing and magnetic personality. The approaches were different, but the message was the same.

TR: What is the main message you want people to take away from this campaign?

AN: First of all, I want people reading this to be inspired to share their story through a photo or a video and use the hashtag #BlackFathersDay this coming Sunday, June 18! Let’s get it trending all over social media! The message I want people, as a whole, to take away is that the media [or] society can say whatever they want, but it doesn’t make it true. The black experience isn’t monolithic, and black fathers are alive and well, and that should be celebrated. If people wanna talk about “fake news,” they should talk about the fact that all black men being grouped together in a negative light over and over again is FAKE NEWS.

TR: How receptive have people been to it?


AN: Every person I’ve reached out to has been excited about the opportunity to share their story and let their creativity shine. Most of the comments I’ve seen on content [have] been positive, too. No doubt, as it continues to grow and hopefully begins trending, there will be the #AllFathersMatter crowd, but we’re not gonna let them steal the shine that black fathers deserve this Father’s Day.

On Father’s Day, make sure you check out the hashtag #BlackFathersDay to see shining examples of black fathers doing what they do best.

Bye, Kinja! It's been fun (occasionally).

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I have a newly founded appreciation for Fathers’ Day...I used to hate the day.

My gf has a son from a previous relationship, and he’s going to start middle school this fall. I’m grateful and humbled that she trusts me to be a big part of his life (his biological ain’t shit). My biological wasn’t shit either, and neither was his father, but even if I don’t have a child of my own, I’ve basically made a promise to myself to try and be better; to do better than my dad did it. I’m gonna fuck up a lot and already have, but he still sits next to me on the couch and does his damn best to stay up til the end of an NBA playoff game. I can remember being this kid’s age and wanting to punch the sky like Cuba Gooding, Jr. because of some shit that my dad did or didn’t do. That anger wouldn’t leave though, because my father never tried to correct the situation. I still fight it today. It wasn’t that he didn’t fix anything, it was that he never even made a sincere attempt. So, when my gf’s son screws up as an 11-year-old is wont to do, I find myself not reacting like I used to. I don’t even really get mad anymore, because I know he’s trying. And my job is to try back. Always. It’s a helluva juxtaposition - I give the lil homie lunch money every week and I western union a few hundred to my dad every month. Shit is crazy, but you gotta start somewhere. Fathers’ Day helps me remember that.