Fifty years ago, the black community was a cohesive unit. We had a common goal of wanting full participation in the American dream within the majority American society proper. At the same time, the black community was insular. We had morals and codes of behavior that were deemed unacceptable.
Mothers and fathers raised their children adhering to God’s laws and the Ten Commandments. Parents didn’t tolerate lies and thievery. Children couldn’t bring home things their parents hadn’t bought. Women didn’t refer to themselves or others as “bitches” and “hoes.” And if a mistake was made, such as a pregnancy sans marriage, neighbors would tsk-tsk and fathers would pull shotguns and demand the man make an honest woman of his daughter.
But times changed — me included. We had children without the sanctity of marriage. Many of us were no longer living in that insular community so those tsk-tsks weren’t heard and we used excuses to validate our actions. They ranged from: The condom broke, I got pregnant while on the pill, Today’s sponge failed, and on and on.
We were part of a new generation and we were going to change the world. We weren’t ashamed to be single parents and some even went further and labeled themselves a “proud single mother.”
The scenario was always about us the adults and never from the perspective of how our actions affected the children.
And now 50 years into this profound experiment of attempting to change society and God’s order, we must admit that, for the most part, “single” everything has been a failure. And because we’ve been out of order, that failure’s greatest manifestation has been in the number of black boys who ended up in the prison system, primarily because they have come from “fatherless” homes. And girls are not immune. They are the fastest growing segment of the prison population.
It is very easy and popular to spread the folklore of the successful single mother. Yet for all the successes, what is more striking is the multitude of failures. Think about it: For every woman who labels herself a proud single mother, I’m not finding corresponding children who call themselves a “proud fatherless child.”
Instead, we see children longing to have a nuclear family.
Sure, some people can find an exception to the rule. But even I see in my own children the disappointment of having a father who wasn’t there for them. And looking into the mirror and answering honestly, it was my own selfish behavior that created the problem.
No matter how well I raised my children, it wasn’t the same as if they had had their father there to be a part of their lives. My children, thankfully, didn’t grow up to be a menace to society. But too many young people, because of the chaos of their lives, are displaying at younger and younger ages the most warped mindset and an adherence to criminal behavior that is sickening.
How else to explain individuals like Lakeisha Baker and Michael Scott out of Maywood who beat and allowed a baby to die, then dumped his body who knows where.
Or the 10-year-old out of Philadelphia where security video captures him attempting to hold people up with a gun.
I wish I had a magical answer, but I don’t. However, what I can offer is a chance for you to join in a discussion this Saturday, May 4, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. at WVON’s Legacy Room, 1000 E. 87th St. for a discussion on Getting Beyond the Drama: A candid conversation about co-parenting in the 21st century.
The event is free, but registration is required. You can register at www.wvon.com.