Saturday, December 10, 2011

What about Black Mothers?: Black Children and the "Need" for a Father

“I never had a father in my life, so I guess that’s why I am the way I am.”

"Well what about your mother, didn’t she take care of you?”


A conversation between my late mentor Dr. Cheryl Hardison Dayton and a fellow classmate

When I look at my niece and nephew and I look at my brother playing with or taking care of them, the statement that “Black men aren’t fathers in their children’s” lives becomes myth. While single parent households are on the rise in all levels of socioeconomic standing, this is not only an issue that affects Blacks but affects everyone. However when you turn on the television and listen to hip hop lyrics that brag about the amount of “Baby mamas” that a man has, it is easy to get caught up in the hype and overlook the facts. However, it is true statistically that in the United States 67% of Black household are single parent households (Children in Single-Parent Families, n.d.). This data however also includes couples who are cohabiting and step parents. (Thus the data is skewed)

When Barack Obama was governor he bought into the hype said that “Black fathers are missing in too many lives” (Davies, 2008). What isn’t taken into account is the definition of fatherhood and how that varies for race to race as well as the role that non-biological father figures can play in childrens' lives (such as mentor or step-parent, step parent, uncle, etc.) in a child’s life. Our president then went on to reiterate the same message in 2010 on Father’s Day. What he and others fail to understand is that research has shown that Black men keep in contact with their children more than any other race or ethnic of fathers (Alexander, 2010). Additionally, it blows my mind that no one is taking into account the amount of Black men who are incarcerated.


I have a bone pertaining to this subject. What about Black mothers? Did it not dawn on people, did the light bulb not shine or come on at all when in reference to Black mothers? When fathers are indeed absent in the home, (Because as I stated earlier this does happen in every race) do you know who often times picks up the slack? Mothers, of all hues and races. Thus, when in reference to a Black man not being in a child’s life I think little attention is paid to the efforts made by Black women to keep family units whole. No one gives credit to the women who have to be both mother and father to their children. The only thing that is acknowledged in these cases is that the father is absent. Children are still raised without fathers, and I am a firm believer that children can be raised well with or without a father. I’ve been fortunate enough to experience both worlds. I had my parents and they passed away, then I was thrust into a three tiered matriarchy of mothers of different generations. I have spent the latter part of 15 years being raised by them, and I don’t think for one second that such put me at a disadvantage or gave me a jaded lensed view of the world.

Furthermore, to say that Black women are raising inadequate children who then became inadequate adults is preposterous and for lack of better words "shitty" statement. I’ve seen some of the greatest persons, who are true attributes to our race, raised by their mothers. Thus, there are a few statements that can sum up Black children and the need for fathers in general. One is that Black children do have fathers, matter of fact statistically more so than anyone else. And the second thing is that when they don’t, the Black mother is a pillar of strength and is there. To say that Black children “need” fathers is to demean a Black woman who is a single mother. The reconstruct of our race’s family unit goes far beyond a simple quick fix of interjecting a man into the picture.


References

Alexander, M. (2010, February 25). Where Have All the Black Men Gone? LA Progressive. Retrieved from http://www.laprogressive.com/rankism/black-men/

Children in single-parent families by race (n.d.). KIDS COUNT Data Center. Retrieved from http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/acrossstates/Rankings.aspx?ind=107

Davies, A. (2008, June 17). Black fathers missing from too many lives: Obama. The Age. Retrieved December 9, 2011, from http://www.theage.com.au/world/black-fathers-missing-from-too-many-lives-obama-20080616-2rkh.html

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