Fathers’ Sons and Brothers’ Keepers is an article written by Charles M. Blow. The article was published in the New York Times on 28th February 2014. He examines the lives of young men and the roles played by their fathers in their development and character. The context of his article is formed, in part, by President Obama’s announcement of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, which is a partnership between the private sector and members of the public aimed at improving the outcomes of at-risk young men. Blow states that the issues facing young men have familial, behavioral, structural and cultural associations which need to be addressed. The role of fathers in this cannot be overemphasized. Young men are often in search of affirmation and validation. Blow (2014) asserts that African American fathers are very much less likely to hug children and show them affection and mention that they love them. Engaged fathers help their children through affirmation, love and advice. This paper presents an anthropological interpretation of the New York Times article by Charles M. Blow entitled Fathers’ Sons and Brothers’ Keepers.
First, the paper examines human relationships and the cultural significance associated with them. For example, the author provides evidence on the importance of father–son relationships by stating that they are crucial for the outcomes of young men. He underlines the importance of a father in the upbringing of a young man. The father-son relationship is important because it has a cultural significance. Culturally, fathers and their sons are supposed to influence each other and to be part of each other’s lives (Nanda, 1994). Fathers are designated the duties of taking care of their family and providing for them. When fathers are called upon to provide their sons with love and to provide guidance to the family, it is a cultural construct. Similarly, the family unit is also a cultural construct because people have a shared belief in the importance of staying together as mother, father and the children. Blow (2014) reiterates the importance of the family unit as human social institution. For example, in the article, President Obama speaks of how absent his father was from his life when he was growing up. This made him angry even though he did not realize it at the time. The author writes that what the child misses at home, he will; seek it on the streets. This is done to illustrate that children have accepted needs which the parents should be there to provide.
Thirdly, Blow’s article may be analyzed in terms of semiotics and linguistics, which have an anthropological significance. Blow (2014) uses recognizable sayings and proverbs in his article, to call upon understanding from his audience, who can relate to the commonly accepted sayings and language. For example, in the first line, he uses the words: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men” (Blow, 2014). This statement is a saying which people can relate to because it represents a commonly accepted idea or assumption. In addition, the author also alludes to a proverb on the best way to eat an elephant being “one bite at a time” (Blow, 2014). This is because it is a widely accepted tenet that to perform a large piece of work, one needs to approach it in a step-wise fashion. In this case Blow is referring to the hard task of addressing the stubborn issues that young men face and how this should be done one step at a time.
Fathers’ Sons and Brothers’ Keepers, an article written by Charles M. Blow in the New York Times lends itself to various anthropological interpretations. First, Blow (2014) examines the family as a human cultural institution which is extremely necessary in the functioning of the society. He underlines the importance of fathers in the social and emotional growth and development of their sons. Secondly, he examines gender stereotypes and constructs related to the nature of men. He states that black fathers expect their sons to be tough and thus do not show them physical affection. Thirdly, he alludes to culturally accepted tenets in his choice of language through sayings and proverbs. All in all, the article has deep anthropological meanings.
Blow, C. M. (2014, February 28). Fathers’ Sons and Brothers’ Keepers. The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2014, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/01/opinion/blow-fathers-sons-and-brothers-keepers.html?action=click&contentCollection=Opinion®ion=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article
Nanda, S. (1994). Cultural anthropology (5th ed.). Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co..