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A mother 24/7 – dare we ask the reason why?

Lee Walton

This past Sunday’s lead Palter and Chatter article in its Faith & Values section, “A mother 24/7”, is fortuitous reinforcement to a current theme being examined in several recent articles and books attempting to deal openly with one of the most perplexing and potentially explosive social problems facing black communities throughout the U.S.. Not surprisingly, the ever-present two-ton elephant in the room overshadows open, productive public discourse and makes the topic a potential minefield for those brave enough to enter. To his credit as a journalist, Adam Parker didn’t sidestep the social and economic hardships faced by local, predominately matriarchal, single-parent households featured in his article or the underlying impacts of multiple absentee fathers upon the mothers and grandmothers left behind to care for and nurture the children they sired then abandoned. One of the women featured in Parker’s article correctly and succinctly framed the quintessential problem at the core of the over 72 percent of out-of-wedlock births now prevalent in this nation’s black communities – “They’ve got to become men before they become fathers.”

As frankly stated by Star Parker, a Black syndicated columnist and self-professed product of the welfare state, in her recent article, “Back on Uncle Sam’s plantation”, beginning over 65 years ago “A benevolent Uncle Sam welcomed mostly poor black Americans onto the government plantation…. Instead of solving economic problems, government welfare socialism created monstrous moral and spiritual problems – the kind of problems that are inevitable when individuals turn responsibility for their lives over to others. The legacy of American socialism is our blighted inner cities, dysfunctional inner city schools, and broken black families.” Ms. Parker describes in detail the endless succession of social programs that were instituted over the past four and a half decades designed to “…strike at the causes, not just the consequences of poverty. Trillions of dollars later, black poverty is the same. But black families are not, with triple the incidence of single-parent homes and out-of-wedlock births.”

In his latest book, “Freedom Is Not Enough”, James T. Patterson reevaluates two historic tipping-points of the mid-1960’s that still influence and dominate our nation’s social and civil rights policies – Patrick Moynihan’s scorching 1965 report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action”, which described and documented in lengthy statistical detail, the frightening deterioration of black family life in cities across America, and President Lyndon Johnson’s June 4, 1965 commencement address at Howard University in which he outlined his far-reaching civil rights agenda which would become Johnson’s War on Poverty. Patterson eloquently describes the countless misunderstandings and misrepresentations still deeply rooted in racial antagonisms today that continue to hamper efforts to productively address black family problems with effective public policies.

On Father’s Day, 2008, candidate Barack Obama described his personal journey through a fatherless, single-parent home and lamented the meteoric rise of out-of-wedlock births in fatherless black families. “I know the toll it took on me, not having a father in the house…So I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my children. Too many fathers
have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men.”

If President Obama were to institute but one successful national policy during his tenure, he would leave a lasting legacy of hope to millions yet unborn if he could stem the rising tide of the nation’s black fatherless children.

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