About a year ago, I wrote a column to generate discussion around the dinner table during the holiday season. One year later, I still feel the need to again bring up the subject. Why? Because as we approach the Thanksgiving-through-Kwanzaa season, many families will gather around the dinner table to give thanks, to praise God for the birth of the infant baby Jesus as well as to celebrate Kwanzaa’s tradition of family, community and culture. Yet at any one of those events, sitting, standing or just being under the same roof will be men who have fathered children that they have abandoned. And I cannot understand how women can tolerate it!
A couple of events have highlighted my need to again bring up the subject. One was because of The Maury Show. You know the “Who my Baby Daddy?” type show. What made this one more tragic than others was that the baby’s daddy brought his mama (the alleged grandmother) to the show to defend him. The alleged grandmother proceeded to declare her son hadn’t fathered the child in question. The alleged grandmother declared that she and her son were both too “good-looking” to have had her son not only sleep with an ugly woman, but her son was “too fine” to have produced an ugly baby. The alleged grandmother, when asked by Maury about the little girl and what if she is the grandmother, bluntly stated that she couldn’t be related to that “ugly a**” child.
Well, you know what happened. The DNA test came back and the man was the father and the woman is the grandmother. That segment of the show ended without Maury dwelling on the actions of the grandmother. But, for the rest of that little girl’s life, someone will have a video to show her what her family members felt about her when she was the innocent victim in the decisions of grown folks to have sex.
I also brought this conversation up with a group of women. What was amazing was the number of women who are not bothered by their fathers, brothers, nephews, sons, uncles, male cousins, etc. who disregard their children. Even worse, just like the woman on The Maury Show, the women felt their relationship to that male relative was more important than that man’s responsibility to his child.
I even got a call from a male cousin who was upset that his daughter’s boyfriend and the newest “baby daddy” in the family wasn’t responding in the correct manner when the girl gave birth and fell desperately ill afterward. My cousin didn’t want to hear the truth as I see it. When you are not married to the man, his obligations are first to his child, then his parents. Sisters and brothers are secondary. Girlfriends, baby mamas, honeys, “old girl,” etc. are all last on the list. However, if the man marries the woman, then his order of priority are first to his wife, then his children.
Lately in the black community, that message seems to have gotten lost. Now we have situation after situation where women are protecting males and not demanding that they be fathers to the children they have created. Mothers are more interested in defending/protecting their grown sons than in making them be a man and become responsible for their children. Sisters are more interested in defending/protecting their brothers than in making them be a man and become responsible for those children. Daughters/wives are more interested in defending/protecting their fathers/husbands than in making them become responsible for the “outside children” they have created.
So my question this year is to women?”who are the majority of those who sit in the churches. To women who are the only ones to bear children. To women who are the ones holding the family together. Can we women truly give thanks on Thanksgiving, knowing a man at your table has a child to whom he should be accountable? Can women celebrate Christmas, our Savior’s birthday, knowing in your family there is a male who has fathered a child and has never once celebrated that baby’s birth? Can we women light the Kwanzaa candles celebrating family, community and culture when we have male family members who have abandoned their children within our community and what has historically been our culture of always taking care of children?
I love my male relatives. But if they have children that they have abandoned, they cannot enter my house. I will not give thanks on Thanksgiving Day if a man in my presence does not take care of his kids. I will not have a present on Christmas Day for any man who, after giving his child the gift of life, walked away from the responsibility of taking care of that life. I will not have at the Kwanzaa feast any man who has failed the seven principles of Kwanzaa as it relates to his children.
Because if we, as black women, don’t hold men’s feet to the fire, the only ones who will be burned are our grandchildren.
Join me for a lively discussion on “Black Leadership in Politics,” Sunday, Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Woodson Regional Library, 95th & Halsted.