In this chapter, I argue that scholars, social service providers, policy makers, and others who critically engage the topic of African American fatherhood, must attend to two concepts that highlight under-treated dimensions of that role: vulnerability and safe space. Vulnerability, a product of anxiety, uncertainty, and unfamiliarity, is a condition affecting many socio-economically disadvantaged African American fathers. These men also function without access to safe space, or public and/or institutionalized space that would allow them the opportunity to better realize, express, and address their vulnerability as men, and as fathers in particular. The absence of such safe space is a consequence of the transformation of urban communities since the age of the so-called underclass. Hence, through the review of a case study and findings in other research, this chapter highlights how and why a critical focus on vulnerability in African American fatherhood and the utility of safe spaces for addressing it can advance the scholarly and policy agenda for this social role. (Author abstract)
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