Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Single moms in the Black and Latino community

I have pondered over this for a while. I have observed and made mental note of all of the male acquaintances and friends I know that have turned out to be successful and who haven't had any encounters with the law. Then I have observed the friends and acquaintances that have had run ins with the law or have been rebellious. The single most important factor seems to be whether or not he comes from a household where he had his father around when he was growing up. In 2007 3,138 black males sentenced prisoners per 100,000 1,259 Hispanic male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 Hispanic males compared to 481 white male sentenced prisoners per 100,000 white males. Now this is definitely indicative of a biased judicial system. This means that in 2007 there were roughly three percent of black males incarcerated, this number is likely to increase because of the significant increase in the amount of prisons being built.

This is relevant to my argument because the people that end up in these jails are products of single mom homes. The dominant reason for them being in jail seems to be that they have a fatherless background. I actually met several people that said that they suffered because their father was not around and ended up disobeying their mother. One particular case is a young kid that I spoke to I believe he was in his early 20s was paralyzed from the waste down. He caught a stray bullet in his back and it hit his spine. He said he was just hanging out with his boys creating mischief as all young kids do when one day this targedy occurred. He said that he didn't have a father around so he was not able to be monitored or disciplined properly. The US Census Bureau said that "Father absence contributes to crime and delinquency. Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers." This is not to say that moms who raise kids on their own do not deserve all the merit and praise in the world but it is really difficult to raise a kid when the father is not around. Neither am I saying that a kid who grows up in a wholesome household with both parents will not get into trouble and eventually become incarcerated, but the chances are more likely if they come from a single mom home. The absence of a father is socially, mentally, economically, emotionally and most of all psychologically detrimental to the child especially if he is a male. I was speaking to a 30 year old mom the other day and she said that her 8 year old kid's biological father is not in the picture, but then she got married to a man who is now his stepfather. She would give her son advice and he would disregard it as opposed to when his stepfather told him the same thing he responded better. This means that there is a certain connection between father and son that cannot be duplicated.

The motif here seems to be that there needs to be more accountability in terms of fathering children in this country or just being there for your kid. A father is more than just a father: he is a confidant, a friend, a role model , a teacher, a provider. Kids who end up growing up in these backgrounds are devoid of fathers form the beginning. They basically have no standard to follow. There is nobody to show them how to treat a woman , how to shoot basketball, how to stay focused in school, how to avoid drugs, how to be a good citizen, and finally how to be a good father. Another aspect to this is that they can also have a strong male relative such as an uncle or grandfather that can keep the child in line which is just as conducive to a male's growth (especially in the adolescent and teen years when boys are just trying to figure out who they are)as a biological father. What I am saying is that you need a positive male role model who can show his son or surrogate son the ropes.

I have cousins who have gone down the wrong path because their father was not around. I am a staunch listener to Hip Hop, and different rappers will rap about how they were raised in single parent (mom) homes. These kids are getting incarcerated more because they do not have their father to show them the way and to discipline them. Another man in his 40s told me how he got arrested when he was 12. He was acting out in school, was rebellious and got into trouble in the streets. He said that all his actions were a cry for paternal attention. He was just so frustrated and angry that he did not have a father so he took it out on the world.

As you can see not having a father can lead you towards jail or a life of crime. When these kids become vulnerable because dad is not there to show him the right thing to do then is at risk for incarceration criminal activities, joining gangs and much more. During the tumultuous teenage years a kid needs a father to console him, support and and most of all set a positive example. I thank God for having a father who has been a good role model and has showed me alot by example. Having a father at home is an integral and crucial part of rearing a male child especially in a Black and Latino urban household where we are at higher risks for incarceration.

In conclusion fathers need to step up and start taking care of their children before their kid grows up deprived and is not given a fair chance!

1 comment:

  1. I think we also need to look at society's disregard for women's power & ability to lead & discipline in general. Women are often regarded as weaker than men or not as able as men to discipline their children, especially sons. Why because there is this underlying belief that once the boy is old enough to physically overtake his mother or he's a "grown ass man" he can do whatever he likes and no woman (that is weaker than him in all imporant aspects ie; physically, emotionally & mentally specifially in that order too) can tell him what to do. Having strong balanced role models in one's life is important for all children regardless of the sex of said role models. Values and principles are without gender. When we starts saying that a boy needs a man to show him how to be a man we need to be very careful. Not only is it not completely true, it can also be dangerous depending on the type of man he is modeling after. Is he a balanced repectful man is he honest & kind? Young boys also need posiitive female role models to show him the
    Strength & value of women: their versatility, endurance,intuition and emotional depth as unique tools that can used powerfully in a young son's infinite toolbox.