The Best Kept Secret: Single Black Fathers by Roberta L Coles

The Best Kept Secret studies the often-overlooked group of single, African American custodial fathers.

Sociologist Coles challenges perceptions that too many black men run from the responsibilities of fatherhood with research and interviews with black men raising their children alone. Citing troubling trends in divorce, out-of-wedlock births, a decline in low-skill jobs, and high incarceration rates among black men, Cole concedes that statistics reveal that a high proportion of black men are irresponsible fathers. Still, she offers her own research on those who are living up to their obligations to their children even in the absence of partners. Cole examines the social policies—and social attitudes—that make it difficult for many black men to parent their children, even as she examines the personal choices that many of them make in the context of their circumstances. Interspersed throughout are compelling portraits of men raising their children and coping with all of the challenges women typically face in child rearing. Among the subjects are divorced, widowed, or separated men as well as gay men who have fathered or adopted children. Cole offers a new perspective on black male fatherhood that defies conventional wisdom on the subject. –Vanessa Bush