Absent fathers and households headed by single mothers are frequently blamed for the poor quality of life of African-American children. This book challenges these assumptions, arguing that they are largely an unfair reflection of non-working class white American values. Hamer places the behaviors of black non-custodial fathers in their social, political, and economic contexts and describes these fatherless families from the perspectives of the families themselves.
Hamer has attempted a useful project: an ethnography of poor, black fathers who do not live with their children. At a time when 70 to 90 percent of black children are or will be fatherless, this is a timely concern. Hamer accomplishes the difficult task of getting 50 such fathers to talk to her about their lives and their fathering. The extensive quotations from her subjects are the most valuable part of the book.