As the founder of the Dope Black Dads podcast, Marvyn Harrison used his own struggles to inspire a global community of parents
Five years ago, Marvyn Harrison inadvertently started a global movement. His private Dope Black Dads WhatsApp group spiralled into an online and offline community in which more than 250,000 fathers discuss their experiences of being black, parenting and masculinity in the modern world.
Harrison (pictured above with his children Black, 4, and Ocean, 6,) has now published his debut children’s book, I Love me! – a collection of positive affirmations for preschool-aged children, designed to boost confidence, enhance self-image and promote resilience.
“I’ve always done daily affirmations with my children, things like ‘I am loving’, ‘I am powerful’, ‘I am kind’,” Harrison told Positive News. “It started as a bit of fun, but it became a real gamechanger for them, giving them tools they can use if they feel afraid. In a time where being black can potentially create challenges other children wouldn’t have to consider, I saw real power in these simple techniques.”
The Dope Black Dads movement may now encompass a multi-award-winning podcast, books and a spin-off Dope Black Mums community, but it all began with a single text message on Father’s Day in 2018.
Harrison, a marketing executive from Hackney in London, whose own father had been absent from his life, sent a heartfelt message to his male friends. He admitted that he was struggling to connect with his kids, and the friends began to share their own challenges. Often, these were linked to cultural beliefs that Harrison believes are unique to black fathers.
I want to encourage men to become better dads, husbands
Over time, and with the support of his new community, he said he has eventually become the father he wanted to be.
I Love Me! is the first of a two-book series Harrison has signed up for with Macmillan Children’s Books, illustrated by Diane Ewen, with the follow-up due in 2023. He also has a book aimed at fathers in the pipeline.
“I want to encourage men to become better dads, husbands and men by providing tools to help them navigate who they are and move forward in their lives,” Harrison explained.
Main image: Serena Brown
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