Colbert King on "the calamity in our midst":
Here we are, another Black History Month: time to lionize great black men and women of the past. Twenty-eight days to praise the first African American to do this and the first African American who did that. Another month of looking back with pride - as we ignore the calamity in our midst.King connects this disintegration to the entitlements that make it all possible and points the finger where it is so rarely pointed, at the men and boys who beget all these fatherless children. Every baby has a father. Why are these guys never held accountable?
When Black History Month was celebrated in 1950, according to State University of New York research, 77.7 percent of black families had two parents. As of January 2010, according to the Census Bureau, the share of two-parent families among African Americans had fallen to 38 percent.
We know that children, particularly young male African Americans, benefit from parental marriage and from having a father in the home. Today, the majority of black children are born to single, unmarried mothers.
Sixteen, unmarried and having a baby? No problem. Here are your food stamps, cash assistance and medical coverage. Can't be bothered with the kid? No sweat, there's foster care.Imagine if Michelle Obama had chosen the broken black family as her pet issue. Mrs. Obama is in a unique position to do some real good. She's fully qualified to speak about the virtues of the intact black family, having emerged from one and created one of her own, and she has the ear and the admiration of the black community. But she and her husband rarely mention it.
Make the young father step up to his responsibilities?
Consider this statement I received from a sexual health coordinator and youth programs coordinator in the District concerning a teen mother she is counseling: "She recently had a child by a man who is 24 years old and has 5 other children. He is homeless and does not work, but knows how to work young girls very well. . . .This young man is still trying to have more children."
He's a cause. Our community deals with his consequences.
Of course, the Obamas' commitment to nanny-government is a huge stumbling block to an honest treatment of the issue. Another is the political incorrectness of touting the superiority of the traditional family, though the advantages it gives to children, and thus to society, are indisputable. But kids are always left out of the equation when empowerment and liberation are the goals.
From Gerry Garibaldi's "Nobody Gets Married Anymore, Mister," which we touched on last week:
“My mom and my grandma both got pregnant when they were teens, and they’re good mothers.”
“Nobody gets married any more, mister,” Shanice and Maria chime in. “You’re just picking on us because we have kids.”
At this point, my “picking” has only just begun. It’s partly for their benefit, but mostly for the other girls in the room, who haven’t said a word. As much as Nicole is aware of her mother’s sacrifices, she is equally proud of her mother’s choice to keep her. It’s locked away in her heart like a cameo. They’re best friends, she offers. The talk turns to her mother’s loyalty and love, and soon the class rises in a choir to mom’s defense.
“Fine,” I say, glowering like Heath Ledger’s Joker. “If that’s your position, like any good journalist, you have to back up your arguments with facts and statistics.”
As do most of my 11th-graders, Nicole reads at a fifth-grade level, which means I must peruse the articles and statistics along with her, side by side. She groans each time I pick out a long article and counts the number of pages before she reads. With my persistent nudging, she and Maria begin to pull out the statistics for the children of single parents. From the FBI: 63 percent of all suicides are individuals from single-parent households. From the Centers for Disease Control: 75 percent of adolescents in chemical-dependency hospitals come from single-parent households. From the Children’s Defense Fund: more than half of all youths incarcerated for criminal acts come from single-parent households. And so on.
“I don’t want to write about this!” Nicole complains. “I’ve changed my mind.”
“Nobody wants to read it.”