Case Western University: The Framing Work Volume

By Clinton Boyd Jr.

“Throughout history, the powers of single black men flash here and there like falling stars, and
die sometimes before the world has rightly gauged their brightness.” WEB. Du Bois
These words culled from the pages ofW.E.B. Du Bois’s riveting text, The Souls of Black
Folks,2 merit careful contemplation in relation to mixed-income communities. While the promise
and perils of mixed-income public-housing transformation are well-documented, 3 Black4 men
have received limited scholarly attention on the subject. Generally, if Black men are referenced
in the mixed-income literature, it occurs in a “color-blind” fashion, whereby authors eschew
direct racial references when describing them. The result can be an insidious deficit narrative.
When value-laden descriptors such as “alcoholics,” “drug addicts,” “drug dealers,” and “gang
bangers” are used, they operate as implicit racial codes, thereby further vilifying Black men. In
this essay, we consider Black men, particularly fathers, in a positive, aspirational light.

Our essay describes how Black fathers can potentially serve as assets to their children,
families, and neighborhoods in mixed-income community settings. We focus on Black fathers in
this essay given their persistent exclusion from government housing programs, their limited
visibility in place-based, anti-poverty initiatives, and the recent evidence documenting Black
fathers’ far-reaching positive influence on Black boys in their communities. Moreover, since
policies and programs often overlook the unique needs of young parents, this essay prioritizes
Black fathers ages 18 to 24. To provide a solution that addresses these omissions, we describe the basic tenets of a father-focused, family-centered program for young Black fathers. We first
review how systemic racism in the area of housing policy has historically constrained
opportunities for Black fathers.

Read the full essay here.