WaPo editorialist William Raspberry writes about something novel to the Black community: the destruction of the Black family.
The absence of fathers means, as well, that girls lack both a pattern against which to measure the boys who pursue them and an example of sacrificial love between a man and a woman. As the ministers were at pains to say last week, it isn’t the incompetence of mothers that is at issue but the absence of half of the adult support needed for families to be most effective.
Interestingly, they blamed the black church for abetting the decline of the black family — by moderating virtually out of existence its once stern sanctions against extramarital sex and childbirth and by accepting the present trends as more or less inevitable.
They didn’t say — but might have — that black America’s almost reflexive search for outside explanations for our internal problems delayed the introspective examination that might have slowed the trend. What we have now is a changed culture — a culture whose worst aspects are reinforced by oversexualized popular entertainment and that places a reduced value on the things that produced nearly a century of socioeconomic improvement. For the first time since slavery, it is no longer possible to say with assurance that things are getting better.
I don’t want to come across too sarcastic; I do applaud these ministers and Mr. Raspberry for highlighting such an important and devestating phenomenon. However, I do believe that this more ubiquitous and dangerous trend (almost) is the trend to every-couple-of-months-or-so bring up the topic and talk about how much needs to be done within and from outside of the Black community and then forget about it for another couple of months (wasn’t Bill Cosby saying this stuff a couple of months ago? And what was the outcome of all the media hoopla? A condemnation of Cosby, and no progress for Black families).
Sorry, but I’ll be less negative when I start to see more and more Black communities take action against this phenomenon. This cannot be a top-down operation (and by that I mean government-led or so-called-Black-leader-led). No amount of government programs or inspirational MLK, Jr. quotes mouthed by Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton is going to keep my old friends in Charlotte from making babies, smoking weed, and dropping out of school (not always in that order). What will, however, make a difference is community and church outreach, and the example being set by young blacks such as Ambra Nykol, myself, and my boy Travis Mason: young Blacks that prove it pays to let God lead you, complete your studies, be real about your responsibilities and work hard to help others. My boys in NC joke that I left them to become a nerd and go to college in New York, but I know at least that I am setting an example for them. I can only hope and pray that more young Blacks will, in the cliche words of Spike Lee, “Do the right thing.”