By Arlene Jones
Social media erupted into an uproar last week when Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Mary Mitchell wrote an article about Chance the Rapper, which for some strange reason (not really) was made the headline story.
In a nutshell, after Chance announced he was pledging to donate a million dollars to Chicago Public Schools and also told Governor Bruce Rauner to "do his job," Chance was taken to task by Mitchell because of his ongoing child support court case. Well, a lot of young people and some old ones, too, myself included, took offense at the column. Especially when a column starts off with, "I don't want to go hard ..." and then proceeds to do just that.
There are a variety of reasons why people go to child support court. With so many black children being born out of wedlock, child support court establishes a legal precedence for paternity, the amount of money that a child is entitled to cover food, clothing and shelter. Other things like education costs, medical/dental, daycare or extracurricular activities are not currently a necessary part of it. However, since Chance's baby mama didn't come to Mitchell lamenting her child support fight, one has to cast a wary eye on why Mitchell felt the need to go in search of it. Her column even acknowledges that the mother of Chance's daughter has a modest apartment that he pays for as well as support, but that she wants her own home (house?) and a car.
Years ago, Mary Mitchell took a different rapper to task regarding his child and child support. Back in 2004, Mitchell wrote about the rapper Twista and how he was a "deadbeat dad." That column had his ex-wife lamenting his lack of attention to his then-10-year-old daughter. Even if that column had been written today, it was a valid situation because at least one of the parties wanted the subject to be public.
If nothing else, Mitchell's recent column should have focused on the changes coming to child support that will take effect July 1. In the past, child support amounts were fixed in stone by the state legislature. The person paying child support would pay 20% for one child and up to 40% for four. But the new law eliminates that set percentage and will offer a shared percentage approach (in other words, having a child will not be the financial windfall it once was). Both parties are responsible for the child and the new law is supposed to take that into account. I listened to a lawyer talk about the upcoming changes, but until the new child support charts are out, no one knows exactly what the obligations will look like.
I will agree with one sentence Mitchell wrote, "Child support is an emotionally charged issue that plays a big role in the high level of poverty in the black community." Mitchell had the perfect opportunity to question why young girls and women, as well as men, who have access to birth control, are still irresponsible about it. If we want to eliminate the high level of poverty, the creation of children that neither party can afford is a good place to start because it's something individuals have 100 percent control over.
We can also eliminate some of the violence that has been perpetrated because of threats of child support obligations. Hopefully, the new law will better take into account the time the child spends with each parent and use that in the figures calculated.
I can't wait to see what July 1 brings.
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