On Thursday 26th July 2012, I took my family to the Bernie Grant Centre to see the More Than XY Exhibition: A Visual Tribute to Black Fathers and Positive Role Models. The exhibition celebrates Black fatherhood and positive role models in the Black community. Its aim was to showcase the awareness of the fathers who are active parents in their children’s lives and to provide exposure for the artists expressing their views of fatherhood through visuals. On this journey, I am aware of the negative stereotypes and media surrounding fatherhood in the community. We always hear of the negative but rarely the positive role models of the fathers who work hard for their families – the unsung heroes. I give thanks to the contributions of my father to my life and my own family’s life. I know that he has made tremendous sacrifices for our family. Sometimes we forget the little things that fathers do for us. For example, while at university, he would leave for from his 8 hour shift and drive to Hatfield to bring me some fruits and spend time with me, which helped me to deal with the pressures of student life. He has supported the growth of Black History Studies and is always on hand to help with childcare and promotion.
The exhibition was a small but impressive display at the entrance to the Bernie Grant Centre. I was immediately attracted to the nine images of the ‘Street Disciples’ by Terrance Adegbenle. I recognised some of the artists like Swiss and Blak Twang and some have been ex-students at Black History Studies such as Ty and Ryan Umali-Robertson.
My daughter and I loved the images of the children that was painted on the chipboard by Drew Sinclair titled ‘Watching Listening, Breathing, Orange Starfish, Big Toe and Valcan.’ The image by Larissa Amarachi titled ‘Div7ine’ was amazing and would look lovely on my wall. The photographs by Xavier Burgin, Kingsley Davis and Steven Duarte captured moments between family members such as the embrace between father and daughter name ‘Eric and Amira.’
There was an interesting book titled ‘Where the Devil Won’t Grow’ which is a collection of photographs and stories about young people growing up on Myatts Field Estate in Brixton. It documented how they were involved in gang life as a result of lack of father figures and how they have turned their lives around.
I believe that this exhibition was needed in order to tell our own story and to counteract the negative media around fatherhood in the Black community. There are many images of positive fatherhood out there, but you will have to search to find them, unless you already have such images in your home. It was a shame that the day I went to this exhibition was the last day before it was removed. I hope that it will be housed permanently somewhere so that others have an opportunity to see it.