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Becoming Dad: Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood Paperback – June 18, 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Agate Bolden (June 18, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932841172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932841176
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #128,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Pitts, an African American journalist, has written a poignant account of the nature and meaning of black fatherhood in the contemporary United States. He deftly weaves together remembrances of an abusive father with scores of interviews with other black fathers and children. The result is a moving portrait of pain, suffering, and guilt as Pitts recounts a number of stories in which black fathers simply are not "there" for their kids. Although he offers no easy solutions, he does use the Million Man March of 1995 as a hopeful symbol that black men can learn to take more responsibility for their lives and those of their children. Although repetitious in places, this is a very well written and provocative work. Highly recommended.AAnthony O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Pitts takes issue with the stereotypes of black men as absent, negligent fathers. Although his own father fit the stereotype (an abusive alcoholic whose absences were not missed and early death not deeply mourned), Pitts counters the negative image of black fathers. He interviewed a cross section of black men about their experiences with their fathers: mostly absent or abusive, many alcoholic or drug addicted. Pitts examines how the troubled history with their fathers has impacted their ability to father their own children. Pitts also explores the painful sociological legacy of low marriage rates among blacks, the dominance of female-headed households, and the broader impact of racism on black families. He intersperses his own experiences as a son and a father with occasional self-doubts about how to handle parental responsibilities and the difficulty of parenting with no good pattern to follow. This is an encouraging look at efforts by black men to stop the destructive cycles that many of them have known in their lives. Vanessa Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
After watching Mr. Pitts interview on Tony Brown Journal.
Kenneth H. Waters
Becoming Dad blends both personal experience and journalistic cross-examination into a powerful whole that embraces the joy of truly being a father and caretaker.
Midwest Book Review
Well, I think every man should read this book, regardless of race.
Gerald J. Burke

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Using techniques employed successful over the years by writer Studs Terkel, and a sense of honesty rarely employed on the issue of black fatherhood, Leonard Pitts in his book "Becoming Dad" has written a book that is bound to change the manner in which the issue of black fatherhood is discussed. This is not professional analysis by some paid expert on human relationships; this is an outstanding writer telling you his story of growing up in a dysfunctional relationship with his own father, and interspersing his drama with the stories of other black men who can speak about their own flawed relationships. They may be an absentee and/or abusive father or a son being abused and left behind or even both, but all of those possibilities are here in "Becoming Dad".
Of course, the issue of black fatherhood has been written about or discussed extensively before by sociologists, poets, psychologists, politicians, ministers and other learned individuals, but Leonard Pitts, perhaps, has done what many others have seemingly refused to do: he has allowed the fathers and the sons to speak and tell their stories. For who else knows this story but those who have lived it.
Although the story itself is Pitts' journey towards reconciliation with his own deceased father and his personal attempt to understand fatherhood, Pitts uses these as his foundation for a broader sketch, where the moments he captures are precise and real and brutally honest and where responses to Pitts questions open wounds which most who responded thought were healed. But that is Pitts'point; there will be no healing until those who have been hurt personally face the issue head on.
Black man after black man is allowed in Pitts' "Becoming Dad" to tell their story.
Read more ›
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was first drawn to this book after watching a television interview of Leonard Pitts, Jr. as he discussed the book. What an interview! What a book!

I once heard a person say, "Real Men don't have to prove it." This certainly speaks of Leonard Pitts, Jr. He doesn't have to ask anyone's permission to be who he is and he doesn't have to prove to anyone else that he is a man. He is able to be vulnerable and strong at the same time. Those whose stories he writes are equally brave and candid. He is a man with straight-shooting, hard-hitting advice for a new generation of African American men, and some advice for women as well. His frustration with men who blindly accept the stereotypes placed on them by a thoughtless society comes through loud and strong. Men do have a choice. And women do have have a choice as to where they place their standards.

Because this book is aimed at African American culture, it will not have as strong of an emotional impact with those who are in a different culture. Pity, because strip away the cultural references and his message is one that needs to be heard by everyone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By P. A Lewis on March 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I read this book back in January and thought about how different a life I had compared to Leonard Pitts Jr. Pitts spoke about how his father held the family a gunpoint twice and about how he beat his mother and siblings whenever the father became intoxicated. Pitts basically stated how once his father died of cancer he was basically forgotten about, but never forgiven for the things he had done to make their lives so complicated for his family.
Pitts speaks to other men in a focus group setting about their relationships with their children and the mother of their children. Some of the relationships seemed as if the father really did not know what to say or do with the children and some of the children felt who is the mystery man? My heart went out to so many of the men, women and children who never got acquainted or tried and failed. I believe that so many men make children and probably fallout with the mother of their children. So many men see the "baby mama" as an obstacle who makes them feel inadequate or uncomfortable.
I had a friend who fathered a child with a woman and had not seen the child in the tweleve years that the child has been on earth except for the day he was born. My friend received a letter one day from his son wanting to see him and my friend wanted to go out and buy everything in the mall for his son. I explained to my friend that money can't buy love and I said that the most valuable gift you can give to your son is history. I explained to my friend that he should tell his son where he came from, his family, and take the boy on a trip to see where his father grew up. The boy is curious to know about his father, but also about himself and so often we lose sight of that by purchasing expensive that could never fill the void of family history.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Palfrey on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Anyone who doubts the importance of fathers and the influence they have on our lives should read this book. The book is a compilation of interviews Mr. Pitts conducted with a number of Black men on their relationships with their fathers. It is interspersed with his observations, which, as usual for this syndicated columnist, are especially acute. The common thread is pain, and some of the interviews are absolutely heart-wrenching. However, the book ends on a hopeful note with Mr. Pitts prescriptions for how to stem this tide of pain and anger that surely affect us all.
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