Igniting a Contagious Fathership Flame
A former Youth Division Aide and Mental Health Therapist with the Office of Children and Family Services turned his reduction-in-force experience into a win-win situation, and many are reaping this harvest. When Tyrone “Zire” McCants, who is also a versatile services photographer and visionary in the Tri-state New York area, lost his job; he took his youthful interest in photography and his prior knowledge from working in a family-centered position into new ventures. He even figured out a way to coincide his two passions into meaningful opportunities to advance his cause. The layoff he faced freed him up to develop his photography business (Zire Photography & Graphics) and to showcase his skills as a prolific artist. One of those ventures that McCants created was an initiative called Proud Poppas United; which is a community based group designed to strengthen the bonds between fathers & their children. It aims to encourage a tradition of fatherhood and family, increasing the number of active fathers in our community. The idea is very retrospect and encouraged for this era in which we live.
When McCants isn’t intellectually cultivating his repertoire of talents, he manages to merge his interest in photography with his desire and passion for fatherhood. Using the Proud Poppas Photo Project, as his flagship initiative he displays images which celebrate and encourage the pride of being an active father. In the ethnic communities, there is definitely a progressive concern of absentee fathers and the devastating effects of this challenge on our children, our families and community. He also believes that by displaying these images will help to shed light on and celebrate the true gift of fatherhood. He hopes that this movement will also become contagious and bring other men closer to their children and families, while re-instilling a permanent presence of well-being and development in our children, our families, our communities and our people as a whole.
McCants quotes that “My scope is capturing the energy between a father and his children” and that’s exactly what he is creating through his community development initiatives. Through, a fundamental look into the reality concerning “Responsible Fathers” many disturbing statistics and contributing factors related to absent fathers is found. But, to the credit of McCants he has been able to overlook the negative stereotypes and prejudices that has perpetuated his community and rise to the occasion. Although, he wears many hats that provide guidance and leadership to the infrastructure of his life’s purpose; his main role lies is spreading awareness of the need for positive male role models throughout the African-American community.
To all of the fathers out there with the silent victories of triumph and the principle-centered leadership; who fight depression, financial woes, relationship conflicts, the penal system and the racism of our day; McCants say’s “Thank you” for all that you have been able to get accomplished behind your veil of anonymity. You have just endured the last 13 years of this millennium and you are still here to tell about it.
Although, some will say that these last few years have been amazing they are still asleep to the fact that; we (The black community) must work with higher ideals versus dollars and cents. We must look within ourselves and see us as being brave, black, accountable, and reliable. The truth of the matter is that you are embracing fatherhood but at a frequency that may not be understood. I am with you as we will not look at the diluted statistics but at the “transformational leadership” that is displayed by all black fathers and role models everywhere.
Your road has definitely not been easy with all that you have been up against within the societal ills of our time; not to mention the injustices within our own communities. But, don’t give up now as our community is leaning on you in these times of difficulty to represent us to the best of your ability as the “Mighty Men of Valor”. You are the man for the job and now it’s time to come out of hiding and show the world what real black men look like; and we really represent as a tribe of Intellectual builders, teachers, warriors, leaders and Kings.
“Fatherhood is not a right, it’s a privilege. Your children are the best part of you. I send my love to this new generation of fathers who have learned from the sins of the past and take a very active role in the lives of our children. ”RAPPER TALIB KWELI, FATHER OF TWO