I’m a young, married, professional Black father. And I don’t exist.
Back in 2017, I wrote about my experiences of being a Black man and a new father in The Independent. This experience was often one of feeling invisible. It was one of feeling alienated at parent-baby groups, as other parents greet you with suspicion. Or medical professionals assuming you know nothing about your baby and aren’t worth engaging with at appointments. Or looking at the TV and failing to see a dad that looks like you and reflects the life you live.
The year before, I had started MFF to create the space for open conversations around fatherhood, but also to change the perception of what Black British fatherhood is. MFF has grown into a strong team of contributors from a range of backgrounds. It’s the UK’s most exciting parenting and lifestyle platform for men and the BBC even called us the “The dads’ version of Mumsnet.”!
Supporting Dads through lockdown
So when we as the MFF team were setting out our vision for 2020: little did we know that, just a few months into the year, the whole world would spin on its head.
Through COVID19 and Lockdown, where at one point most of the UK population were at home, our mission became even more important. As many Dads faced new challenges; of home schooling, juggling childcare and working from home, job insecurity, or for some, being away from their children for prolonged periods of time. Like many other Dads, I was dealing with some of these same challenges myself and it was tough going some days.
What the Lockdown taught me was to appreciate things we can so easily take for granted; the green spaces near our house, the comfortable tracksuits (I haven’t worn a shirt in months!), our good health and the love in our home.
I’m proud that MFF has been able to support the mental health of dads through this period. We have had important conversations with our MFF community and shared resources through our blog, podcast, online events and social media.
Parenting through Black Lives Matter
And just like COVID, none of us could have predicted the shift in the world following the murder of George Floyd. As a platform, we held discussions around parenting during this time, helping Dads around the world to process these events and think about what it all meant for the way we live our lives, bring up our children and how we use our voices and power for positive change in the world.
Black History Month gives us another opportunity to think about how we use our platform for good, while we also celebrate the richness of Black history across the world and particularly here in the UK. Throughout the month, we’ll be launching our #BlackBritishHeroes campaign where each day, one of our MFF Dads will be share a video on our socials and website highlighting a Black British figure who has had a big impact on who they are and the way they parent.
I am still overwhelmed when I think about the huge impact MFF has had on Dads in the UK over the last few years. Last year, this was recognised by the United Nations and I was awarded their change maker of the year award for my work on gender equality. What a surreal experience.
Why I am so proud to lead MusicFootballFatherhood
I’m truly grateful for this recognition, and all the recognition MFF has had to date, and I want to use this opportunity to encourage you to manifest that idea you have. We can often underestimate our own power and the impact we can make on the world. Now is the time to make that idea a reality.
MFF has already given me so many highlights I will always treasure, however the true gift in MFF is how we are able to create safe spaces for Dads to have open conversations around fatherhood. I’ve cried reading stories about miscarriage, widowhood, baby loss, mental health and relationship breakdowns. I’ve been encouraged by conversations around home schooling, creativity, fitness and shared parental leave.
I’m proud to lead an innovative and compassionate organisation like MFF. The modern Father is a new breed. We are way more involved and present than ever before. But every Father is different. Whether you are a single parent, father of a blended family, a stay-at-home dad or a father of quadruplets, we are here to inspire, inform and support.
Come and visit us, have a look at our #BlackBritishHeroes campaign and join the community at www.MusicFootballFatherhood.com and @MFFonline_ on Twitter and Instagram.
By Elliott Rae – Founder of MusicFootballFatherhood, Diversity and Inclusion expert and United Nation’s Changemaker of the Year