Dr. Waldo Johnson was interviewed by FFHC’s CEO, Dr. Kirk E. Harris for FFHC’s Father Engagement and Family Strengthening series. In the interview, Dr. Johnson shared his perspective on the history, status, challenges, and strengths of the Black family.

Dr. Waldo E. Johnson, Jr., Ph.D., MSW is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Dr. Johnson is the Principal Investigator for the Chicago Parenting Initiative Evaluation Study, a multi-year evaluation study of the impact of male enhancement service provision to young fathers in support of their physical and psychological well-being, as well as the well-being of adolescent African American and Latina parenting mothers and their children. Dr. Johnson was also a research consultant at the Warren Institute of Berkeley Law School and The California Endowment. In that role Dr. Johnson helped to develop a California-based research, policy and practice initiative focused on enhancing the status of boys of color. Dr. Johnson has consulted with the Chicago Community Trust and United Way of Metropolitan Chicago in the development of their respective African American Male Initiatives, both of which focus on fatherhood and family, education and human capital development, physical and behavioral health, mentoring and human justice policies. Dr. Johnson is presently conducting an evaluation of the United Way African American Male Initiative.

Below are the Questions that Dr. Waldo Answered :

  • What are the key strands of research suggesting about the condition and status of black families in America today?
  • From your perspective, what would you say are some of the key resiliency factors that are
    manifest in the black experience, in the context of the black families, that actually have permitted that survival
    and facilitated that ability to overcome despite the odds?
  • How has institutional racism historically and presently impacted outcomes in Black families?
  • What’s your sense based on your experience and your research related to the roles that
    black fathers play in buttressing, supporting theresilience of black families? Any thoughts that you have
    about that?
  • I had a question, because, as you know, the work that Fathers, Families and Healthy Communities does is we
    work with social service agencies who are serving moms and kids, and a lot of times, even once the father is
    physically available and potentially one is able to engage them, the narrative is they’re disaffected, they’re not
    really interested in being involved. Maybe they don’t have the best kind of qualities that would make them
    appropriate to be near their children and that kind of thing. What do you say about that narrative? Where does
    that narrative come from?
  • In some Chicago communities, particularly African-American
    communities, we seem to be struggling with community safety, community violence questions, and again often
    these issues are symptomatic of these larger structural concerns that you articulated earlier, just in terms of the
    inability for individuals to matriculate in typical economies, the exclusion, the segregation. But we also
    noted that this violence is real in communities, and it has some really significant tolls. It’s traumatic, right, in the
    communities. I guess maybe if you could just comment, one, on what you think some of the strategies might be
    related to mitigating some of these concerns, some of these issues in our communities, and maybe more
    particularly comment on what unique role that you think
    fathers might play?


You can find the full transcript here: Interview with Dr. Waldo Johnson Transcript 3.20.2018