Being a Black Father in Naperville

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When Mark and Jennifer Wright moved to Naperville in 1997, they knew it wasn’t the most racially diverse area.

“And at that time I don’t know where Naperville landed as far as Black population,” said Mark. “I know today we’re a little over 5%, which is still pretty low but at the time it was even worse.”

Father’s Day

This year, Father’s Day comes with racial issues at the forefront of national discourse. There have been violent clashes between police and protesters, including an incident in Naperville on June 1.

Wright sits on the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, which is responsible for hiring officers for the Naperville Police Department. He said living in Naperville, he and his boys have never had any issues with the police due to race.

“That’s not to say that some don’t but I probably have concerns and thoughts that maybe some white fathers don’t have,” he said. “Not to mention the fact that I’m in an interracial marriage, so my children are obviously mixed and I think that brings a whole other level of concerns that maybe Black fathers don’t even have.”

A Different Perspective

His son Eric agreed, and said his father often talks to him and his brother about race.

“Having a Black dad is probably a little bit different in the aspect that there are racial issues in our society and he likes to, from the perspective of a black dad, preach that out to me,” said Eric. “And not all white dads can do that because they don’t have that perspective of being a Black man in America.”

But this, Eric said, is part of what makes Mark a great dad: he’s there, he’s involved, and he encourages his boys to become better people.

“He’s always been really good about making sure to push me outside of my comfort zone. But knowing that if he does so, it’s something that will be good for me,” said Eric.

What Makes a Great Father?

For Mark, being present in his kids’ lives is what makes a great dad, regardless of race.

“I don’t want to oversimplify it but for me it means being there for your children, it’s really that simple.”

Happy Father’s Day from all of us at NCTV17.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


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