I and a score of other citizen activists and bloggers (of sometimes divergent interests) have come together in an initiative today to blow the lid off the explosion of out of wedlock child births in the African-American community in particular, the large never-married status and mass abandonment of black women and children. For regular readers of this blog you will likely be familiar with my previous posts where I’ve discussed how this pattern has become normalized and why it not only lacks tangible benefits but is in fact destructive.
This has been an ongoing topic of concern brought to light by a few key black women bloggers who seek to encourage other women to rethink the general consensus things are fine as is. These conversations have brought the ire of many but ignoring less than ideal circumstances don’t make them beneficial.
Today is your Emancipation Day! Please feel free to join in. Here’s my entry for No Wedding No Womb. Thanks to PR pro Christelyn Karazin for organizing this event, Lorraine Spencer for the great lyrics to the theme song and a special shout-out to the black male bloggers I approached who agreed to participate.
If you think raising children on your own is a badge of honor showing what fortitude you have you might want to rethink that decision. While it may be true that we can’t always prepare for what life throws at us and relationships can fall apart, far too many of us act is if we’ve won a prize for reinforcing behavior (Superwoman, Mammy, Mule, Guard-dog, Denier) that puts our entire community at a huge disadvantage. A lie repeated often enough starts to sound believable.
Just so that we’re clear this is a discussion about the care and protection of children – not about explaining and justifying lifestyle choices of adults – and how those choices affect (and can negatively impact) them (and us). It’s not solely about placing blame but about deconstructing mindsets so individuals can make life-affirming choices that work best for them as individuals and in some cases uplift the group. Healthy people = Healthy communities. The opposite also applies. This does require accurately assessing the actions that have led to the current state of the collective and the roles people have played into making it what it is today. The time for being gentle and hand-holding through mock hurt feelings and assuaging egos is over!
Far too many women are singing some variation of the “He Done Me Wrong” song as well. That’s followed by the even more popular “ I Can Make It Without You” song in relation to rearing the offspring that have often been left behind. At some point we must accept our past and make definitive choices for a productive future.
The statistics don’t bear good tidings. The number #1 consequence is likely to be poverty. I know many reading such a stat may take pride in knowing due to their advanced degree or high-salaried job that they are not hurting financially. There may even be an air of class superiority at play. If you were to ask the children though, they would freely express their need to have a cohesive parental unit. They are hurting emotionally and in so many other intangible ways if they are raised missing key components to stability. If the children are the offspring of a heterosexual couple they want a mother AND a father. Regardless children need to watch and learn from healthy interactions between men and women. The ties that bind us biologically are powerful. Even children who’ve been adopted and raised in loving homes want to know who made them and where they came from.
You can be poor, working class, wealthy or a celebrity – hetero or LGBT – the tenets of a family remain the same. There are situations where younger, less-experienced girls who aren’t given good advice may make mistakes. That doesn’t mean you rinse and repeat. There are older, seemingly more mature and well-educated women who ignore all patterns of behavior and common sense to take up with known criminals, serial baby daddies and perpetual under-achievers simply because they share a common ethnicity or life experience. Experimenting with the quality of your life is one thing. Playing Russian Roulette with the future life a child is something else entirely. It’s also completely unnecessary when there is an abundance of loving men available who’d treat women with honor, dignity and happily provide without complaint if they were sought them out.
Women may give birth to but cannot raise boys to manhood. What often happens in the black community has become the new normal but it’s an aberration. Due to the lack of protection many young girls are at serious risk. It’s one thing for an adult couple to be together but there are too many instances where the abandoned “woman” is barely 18 and the male who moved on is a good decade or so older. The women tend to be hardest on their own gender hence the phrase, “raise you daughters but love your sons”. It’s the epitome of reinforced sexism where the males are prized just for breathing and the females are told to prepare for “life”. Nothing will break the cycle when there’s no accountability, no acknowledgement of the huge imbalance and no reparations. **I haven’t even mentioned how the explosion in HIV rates has coincided with the high out of wedlock birth rates.
Males that see their mothers doing everything by themselves are most likely to presume that other women will do the same. Fatherless males are less likely to make adequate partners across the board – and not because they may not be “nice” but because they’re missing key skill sets. Any girl questioning the wisdom of this indoctrination is told she’s being selfish for even expecting her needs to be considered. The same way an employer has qualifications set when seeking competent employees we should expect and set standards for relationships.
While other racial and ethnic groups also are experiencing an increase in out of wedlock birth rates and you may personally know other non-black single mothers they are not dealing with the particular problems that have plagued the black community. With a 70% OOW birth rates as of the 2006 CDC report with a 2-5% annual increase we’ve surpassed critical mass chaos. Societies implode on themselves that allow for such destructive habits to become the norm.
There are Scandinavian/Nordic countries with large populations of never-married mothers but they have governmental infrastructure to offset the burdens such as state-sponsored health care and child care, paid time off and other catch-alls that prevent children from falling through the cracks. Here we have the opposite in cases like Banita Jacks. With the continued implosion of the established economy many long-standing programs will continue to be gutted as cost-saving measures (as the low-income day care centers were as outlined in the Jacks’ story).
If the Republican party agenda that’s being aided by the Democrats-in-name only and greedy business interests are continued to be given precedence over those who need help and are unskilled for the 21st century market will be in jeopardy. Not to mention the dwindling tax base means many programs have to be cut because the funds simply aren’t there. When you have food stamp benefits cut to support tax breaks for the wealthy and businesses go unpunished for breaking the law when hiring immigrants who are working here illegally for low wages it is imperative for people to travel light and be as educated and skilled as possible.
Grandma can’t step in to help you raise your kids anymore. Those other groups are already thriving or taking whatever steps are necessary to continually elevate the status of their people. This is also why the focus on attaching one’s fortunes to another group’s rise is dangerous. particularly when the assumption is that they share the same negative experiences with whites and want to fight white hegemony. It’s also a compensation tactic to avoid dealing with the problems within the black community that has only exposed our weaknesses to the masses. Nobody else is pushing for “rainbow coalitions” at the expense of their own group’s stability. The lack of leadership from the top makes for a very shaky foundation for African-Americans and until that is addressed things will continue to spiral downward. Those individuals, groups and organizations that continue to put out propaganda messaging DENYING the obvious are our enemies even if they look like us.
Women cannot and should not try to step in to replace the lack of participation by the males in their community. The males have proven themselves unable and incapable as a collective to do their duty and meet even the most basic needs for the group. They need to stop being supported immediately! That’s why I said this is the non-PC evaluation. Our survival depends on it. For many of us may be doing everything right but we may come into contact with those who’d seek to harm us. As for the children – it’s too late to prevent this for those that are already here but we can stop the continued bleeding for the next generation if we tell the unvarnished and non-compromised truth.
CRIME– Black on black killings (by males) seem to be the only time anyone focuses on intra-black conflicts but we have the largely unreported street harassment and sexual assault of black girls and women to consider. The more sensational crimes against them may have only now just begun to get coverage (i.e Dunbar Village) but that’s because of the bravery of a handful of black women who’ve publicly ripped the veil of silence off and demanded it. The violence that occurs in predominantly black residential areas is only escalating.
UNEMPLOYMENT – Again, the conversation is steered toward the suffering of black males because their numbers are so huge. Yet when I read about it I get the feeling someone is trying to apply guilt and accountability to non-blacks to resolve it. So the reliance on others to resolve the failure of males to protect and be self-sustaining is also displayed here. Why isn’t anyone talking about the lack of creation and support of black-owned businesses? Black women and children aren’t the only thing that was abandoned. The entire infrastructure was gutted in favor of integration without reciprocity. The problem is many black males equated proximity to white women (or other non-black women) with success and continue to do so today. There’s a lack of sustainable culture and self-pride within the community as a whole so many are seeking validation in the wrong places. Many black women are amongst those that will reach for an acceptance from males that will never return the favor and perpetually raise the bar. Many males focus on fulfilling their sense of inadequacy through the co-mingling with other women and will gladly offer all of their resources to do so. Which is their choice (and should notbe the concern of black women when they can seek out males that accept them at their best), but the blowback is indicative of who and what was considered important…and what wasn’t.
EDUCATION – The poor performance and fast-tracking to special needs that is happening to black children is also the result of the lack of infrastructure. Teachers can only do so much. Reading fundamentals and comprehension is mandatory. Kids that are malnourished and under stress will not be able to perform well in school or retain what they’re being taught. Not to mention the fact that education lies beyond the school curriculum. If your child is not prepared to compete they will be left behind.
INTERPERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – It is a very real threat to the status of a group when the family structure has been eviscerated. Now is the time to rethink the idea that the only viable mate for a black woman is a black male. I’m stating that specifically because the learned habits of African American females have been to steer them toward intentionally limiting their choices. How often have women who “know better” experimented with the quality of her life by choosing a lesser-than? Too many think what they’re drawn to was their own free will talking versus the reinforcement of indoctrination that resulted from their being around a small group of people parroting each other with failed ideologies.
THE IMPACT– Skewed ideals of what’s normal now permeates the collective. Despite having a black President our political capital has sunk to an all new low. This will have an even greater negative impact than many now realize. If some are feeling fatigued by the Tea Party style obstructionism wait until the majority has to live with the consequences of their “friends” shutting the door on them after using our ancestor’s resources to advance themselves past us. The imbalance of service to trying to save the community means black women are not using their talents and resources to help themselves, their group or the greater society as a whole. Our civic service has been redirected to appealing to those who hold us in contempt. For all we know the next big innovative initiative that was to be found through someone’s daughter may never take root. There are important relationships to be built and conversations to be had that we are being pulled away from because our focus lies elsewhere. The burden is too great. The assault on our femininity and sanity must not be allowed to continue unchallenged.
SOLUTIONS – Stop lying! Don’t limit yourself to the bounty life offers! Reevaluate everything you’ve been taught and think about what drives you. Start singing a new song, “What’s In It For Me”. YOU are not the community and it’s not your responsibility to self-sacrifice. If you are currently child-free DO NOT WASTE ANY TIME WAITING if you want to get married. Go to therapy, get a dating coach, see and experience the world. If you attend a church that passes the collection plate around 8 times and has you sitting there the whole day on Sunday and doing things 3-4 times a week ask yourself why. Especially if you mostly only see other black women such as yourself AND you’re single… If you seethe in the presence of other black women (esp when black males are in the vicinty) before any of you have spoken to each other think about that. Expect a monogamous relationship with that guy who claims he’s feeling you where he takes equal responsibility for meeting your emotional and physical needs where you’re both practicing safe sex. Listen to that quiet voice that instictivelykicks in that you override. If you are too afraid or prideful to admit you’re drowning ask for help. Be willing to do something in an entirely new way especially if it’s a challenge to what you’re used to. Tune out all the “black” shows, movies, music you’re used to participating in as many reinforce the destructive mentalities we need to shake off. Stop thinking in terms of race and start thinking in terms of gender. Ask yourself what do you NEED? Know that it’s okay to be angry about this huge imbalance and the way black women have been mistreated. At some point though you have to let it go and move on. That is key: MOVING ON. There’s an entire world awaiting to bask in your loveliness.
As long as people (read that as males) continue to talk around the problems and refuse to adequately address the choices that haveresulted in these problems there are no “savethe community” solutions forthcoming. The only ones who will resolve the male abandonment (and racialized misogyny) problem are other males. The ones who get it can’t make the masses step in line either because this has gone on too long. This is about pulling a few conscious people out of the Matrix. As we see by the overwhelming majority of people attempting to address this are women (who are themselves a small minority subgroup) most will continue to ignore, obfuscate and watch the house burn down.
The only course of action to take is to speak truthfully about this and put out a warning message for others. We can’t change the past but we can change course for our future. Being honest in admitting raising kids alone doesn’t work will only strengthen us. Life isn’t perfect or fair so we’ve got to make the best of it and learn to make solid choices. For those women who are fed up now is to remove themselves from the contamination, get well and inoculate themselves and their loved ones, especially young girls from sacrificing their self-respect to begin with.