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“My mom couldn’t teach me to be a man,” says Brandon Hay. Brandon was raised by a single mother who came from Jamaica to Toronto to give her children a better life. His father was murdered by an 11-year-old boy who himself was later also murdered. When Brandon returned to Jamaica for his father’s funeral he was shocked by the reaction of the local police. “This is regular,” the detective told him.
When back home, it was the normalization of crisis in Toronto’s black community that motivated Brandon to start up the Black Daddies Club, an organization committed to changing the image of the black father in the media.
A dad himself, Brandon and his group reach out to black fathers in barbershops where they often gather on weekends with their children. Conversations ensue, issues are discussed and the children get to see their fathers in a different light, as interested, engaged members of the community. The group also facilitates speaking engagements with community leaders whose stories of success offer up new role models. And, most importantly, Brandon and his group are out actively speaking to the media to counteract the pervasive negative stereotypes of the absent, criminalized black father.
“We need to break the negative cycle with a positive cycle,” he says.
Brandon Hay took advantage of the media training offered through DiverseCity Voices. Today, he is a go-to media source on issues related to male identity and crime in the black community.