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Actor and former NFL player Terry Crews says his earliest memory is of his father hitting his mother in the face as hard as he could. He had bed-wetting problems until he was 14, due to fear. He felt “terrorized” by his own dad. Later in life—as a husband, and father of five children—Crews learned to practice the art of admitting his shortcomings. He dedicated himself to being a good father, husband, and man. He even wrote a book about his journey, titled “Manhood: How to become a better man or just live with one.” His story is compelling, inspiring, and redemptive.
Cue the Twitter mob
Crews frequently tweets about the importance of good fathers. It’s something he’s known for being very passionate about. One would think this is virtuous and commendable, especially in light of his childhood. But you’d be wrong, or so the Twitter mob says.
Over the last few months Crews has been wrapped up in controversy and many Twitter spats in connection with his tweets about fatherhood. One messy Twitter dispute started after he was critical of a New York Times op-ed in February, titled “Why Does Obama Scold Black Boys?” In response to the article, Crews tweeted: “If a successful black man can’t advise the black male youth of the next generation, who will? THE STREET. That’s who.”
He went on to express frustration that the article was written by a woman, tweeting out that “men need to hold other men accountable.” This received backlash from Twitter users who felt the statement was misogynistic. Crews continued to tweet, defending his position on the role of fathers: “So all the Black kids growing up without dads or paternal love are just fine? So we just let all these dads off the hook? Just because women can do it all alone—and they have done an amazing job— does that mean they should?”
The people coming down hardest on Crews were defending the LGBTQ community, and single mothers. All of them angry that Crews seemed to believe that love is “gendered,” and that kids without both a mother and father will suffer. He responded to all of their concerns in multiple tweets providing clarification—even deleting a tweet that said kids would be “severely malnourished” if they receive love from only one gender of parent—while steadfastly repeating that fathers still matter: “I’ve reiterated many times that same sex couples and single parents can successfully raise a child. But I believe paternal AND maternal love are like vitamins and minerals to humanity. No matter where you get that paternal and maternal love. MY purpose is to give paternal love.” (Emphasis mine.)
Teen Vogue had the audacity to call Crews’ support of fatherhood an example of “toxic masculinity.” The truly stunning irony here is that his father was an actual example of toxic masculinity, while Crews promotes healthy and engaged fatherhood.
So is Crews in the wrong?
Of course not.
This is another “non-troversy” in an ever-increasingly sensitive culture.
People have come a long way in the history of humanity, and that’s especially true for Americans. Our day-to-day lives don’t consist of hunting and skinning animals, and securing shelter. We don’t worry about militants bashing down our doors and murdering our families. A typical poor family in the United States (as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau) still has modern conveniences like air-conditioning, televisions, cable or satellite TV, and other niceties that even the richest of men couldn’t have dreamt of 150 years ago.
So where does this leave us? If we don’t use up our daily energy trying to survive, we put our time and effort into other things. The more conveniences we have, the easier life becomes, and the more often minor issues or perceived offenses morph into earth-shattering controversies.
Now what used to be completely reasonable and obvious (like the fact that having a father in the home is good and healthy for children) has become “problematic,” because it offends some communities of people. The vocal minority shouts it down, and this has a chilling effect on speech, especially speech from celebrities and other people in the spotlight. Nobody wants to be criticized in that way—Crews was labeled homophobic and misogynistic—so for most people it’s easier to stay quiet, and keep their opinions to themselves.
Celebrating fatherhood and having a virtuous man in the home to raise his children is a good thing. This isn’t controversial unless you force it to be. Thankfully Terry Crews hasn’t allowed his speech to be shutdown. He continues to share his message, and even mock his haters: “I have another very controversial statement to make, and I will since I’m “canceled” anyway. As a human being there are things you can only get from your mother.”
“When I mention Fatherhood is actually a good thing:”
“Me: Welcome to the annual Black Fatherhood Picnic! Thank you for…! Scuse me…? Woke Twitter:”
In defense of fatherhood
Over the years Crews has made excellent points about children needing a father figure, and should continue to stand his ground and encourage men. Growing up without a father has been correlated to higher rates of poverty, dropping out of school, and incarceration. Seven out of 10 high school dropouts are fatherless, and fatherless children are at dramatically increased risk for drug and alcohol abuse. Conversely, kids who have an involved father in the home show better cognitive and emotional function, and are more likely to succeed academically, regardless of race.
The fact remains that there is an epidemic of fatherlessness in the United States, and it’s not good for our children. Nearly one in four children lives in a home without a father, and the rates in the black community are even higher, at nearly 70% of black children being raised in a single-parent home.
Fathers matter. Fathers have an important role in the family unit. Children need their fathers. None of these things are controversial, unless you’re so well off in life that your biggest issue is worrying about a decent black man being a good dad, and teaching other men to do the same.