LIFESTYLE
26/06/2018 23:23 SAST | Updated 26/06/2018 23:23 SAST

Stay-At-Home Dad Shows What Black Fatherhood Looks Like, 1 Video At A Time

Henry, who is also a rapper known by his stage name Beleaf Melanin, is proud of his role. He shares his life as a dad on his 'Beleaf in Fatherhood' YouTube channel.

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Glen Henry is a rapper and stay-at-home dad who has set out to educate the world about black fatherhood.

Glen Henry is a stay-at-home dad of three who faces the usual stigma that comes with being a father who embraces his role as a dad.

"People don't mean any harm, but they'll say things like, 'Oh, Daddy's got a full load,' or 'You look outnumbered,'" he told HuffPost. "You know, things that mean, 'You are clearly over your head, sir. Where's the mother?'"

Henry, who is also a rapper known by his stage name Beleaf Melanin, is proud of his role. He shares his life as a dad on his "Beleaf in Fatherhood" YouTube channel. Henry and his wife, Yvette, are in the spotlight in the videos alongside their three kids, who are 5, almost 4 and 16 months old. The kid trio is known as the "chocolate babies," and they have more than 8,000 followers on Instagram.

Through his channel and as an ambassador for YouTube's Creators for Change campaign, Henry aims to change others' perception of fatherhood, especially black fatherhood.

"I hope that I help people see black men as not scary figures," he said. "We see a lot of deaths, and things happen because someone fears for their life, fears for their safety — because black people exist; because black people congregate. People are having a cookout, or you know, a young black man was just gunned down the other day. All these things are happening because people fear what they don't understand."

One of Henry's videos, posted on July 2017, is titled "Why Am I Black?" It shows his sons, Theo and Uriah, discussing whether they are black or brown.

The talk between the brothers led to an important discussion for the family about race, melanin and the colour of their and their friends' skin. Henry quickly learned the video also served as a conversation starter for other parents.

"One of my white friends watched the video and he told me, 'I would have never thought to talk about this with my kid had we not been watching. I don't know how that would have been brought up otherwise,'" Henry said.

When asked if he had advice for other parents struggling to share these crucial messages with their kids about race and privilege, Henry suggested in most cases to address them head-on.

"You can ask, 'Hey, these are our friends. Do they look different than us?'" he said. "They might not be thinking about that, but some kids are already thinking that way ... If you don't have the conversation, you're giving other people permission to do it."

The proud dad especially enjoys working with his wife ("She's the greatest ever," he said) to tackle these talks as a team and to also produce funny content. Some of their most popular videos include Henry hooking the kids up to a lie detector test and the little ones constantly bothering a Google Home device.

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Henry said he's heard from white friends in his circle that his videos have helped their families approach conversations about race and other topics.

Of course, there's pressure when it comes to trying to change minds, serving as guidance for other fathers and even opening up to the internet at all about your family, but Henry is glad to take on the challenge. He loves being a stay-at-home dad, even if it is undoubtedly "really, really, really hard" and means pushing music to the side now and then, although he does incorporate original music into his videos.

"The biggest stage I'll ever stand on is in my living room in front of my children, not in a nightclub," he said.

With a self-published children's book, a TED talk, and an appearance in a Pampers commercial alongside singer John Legend on his list of accomplishments, Henry has already done a lot in the parenting space. His next focus is on his role as a Creators for Change ambassador and on his goal to provide more content on YouTube for kids.

"I want to start a kids channel effort so that more black spaces, more black people faces will be seen on these channels," he said.