Monday, July 21, 2008

"You're so articulate. Where did you learn that?"

Today I learned that CNN will air a special report this week called Black in America, hosted by Soledad O'Brien. The first part, "The Black Woman & Family", premieres on Wednesday, followed by "The Black Man" on Thursday.

I would like to note that neither CNN nor Ms. O'Brien contacted me for this special. Last time I checked, I was still black and in America. Maybe they'll give me a ring-a-ding next year.

I really liked the Black in America celebrity interviews given by Vanessa Williams and Whoopi Goldberg (featured above). However, I did not appreciate what Bishop T. D. Jakes had to say. I had to transcribe his words myself. Apparently CNN does not realize that not everyone can watch videos on their computer. Also, not everyone is a member of the hearing community. Transcripts would be helpful.

Many, many men are in a dilemma today where they're really trying hard to understand their own worth and their self-esteem. Uh, the woman is excelling educationally and academically and economically often beyond the man. I think cuts to the core of your self-esteem, and men are struggling to find their relevancy in the family today, in a way that we did not experience in the 60s.

And I think years out from now we are going to see huge fallout because there are no fathers in our homes. Fallout in terms of the inability to sustain relationships as adults because you don't understand male language, how men communicate. Well-meaning people trying to hold a relationship together, but don't understand the uniquenesses, and the unique nuances that exist between men and women.

We now think in this generation "men are optional", "fathers are optional", "because I can afford a child, I don't need a man." We don't understand that the contribution goes beyond the paycheck. And I think the emotional fallout is going to be very, very destructive in years to come.

Looky here, Mr. Jakes. Just because I have continued to excel "educationally and academically" does not mean that other people, i.e. men, cannot do the same. Education is not a zero-sum game. I can't horde all the education and prevent other people from getting it. It's not my fault that men supposedly have poor self-esteem because they are "struggling to find their relevancy in the family today". What kind of farkakte logic is that? If these men you are talking about choose to leave their family because they chose not to get an education and therefore cannot provide the kind of paycheck that their educated female partner can, how is that my problem? Why should I be responsible for men who aren't even trying to do something with their lives? I have my own self-esteem issues. As D. L. Hughley says in his celebrity interview, those men need to get out of their own way.

Additionally, most of my closest childhood friends and I did not have fathers. Mine didn't leave voluntarily; he died. His contribution to our family was indeed much more than a paycheck. But when he left, we did get along without him. My mother didn't need a man, and she could afford me. My friends and I didn't need male placeholders in our lives. We needed parents who cared about us, and that is what we had. We turned out very well, often better than some of our peers who had grown up with their two original heterosexual parents.

Furthermore, not every black woman wants to have a child with a man. Not every black person wants to have a child. Not every black woman wants to be with a man, and not every black man wants to be with a woman. Not every black man deserts his family. Overall, I am tired of hearing these same arguments posed as the problem with the black community. As if there aren't white deadbeat dads or Asian deadbeat dads. As if the problems in Latino communities could be solved if only Latinas showed more appreciation for trifling men. I don't think so.

The rest of the special looks enlightening though. Sheryl Lee Ralph (at 2:26) seems like a fun lady. I have nappy roots, too! I'm not happy about it, though others are. My hair doesn't make those fun ringlets. It just grows out angry. Argh.


Irwin Handleman said...

I love how you always think no survey can be accurate unless you, specifically, have been spoken to. I'm not sure if you understand how these kinds of things work, but they don't have to actually talk to every single person.

Also, once again you've gone back to your tired premise that "there are white and asian deadbeat dads too!" . Uh, yeah, but there's way more in the black community, and that is a statistical fact. Maybe that's why you keep hearing it, cause it's statistically proven - even though they may not have talked to you about it first.

Bianca Reagan said...

I love that too! The part about not contacting me was a joke. I'm no Whoopi Goldberg. Yet.

I doubt the likelihood that there are more deadbeat black dads in than there are deadbeat white dads in the United States, considering that there are five times as many white people in the US as there are black people.

Do you have some actual deadbeat dad statistics to share, irwin? Or is your research based on anecdotes from your friends and associates?

Irwin Handleman said...

Are you joking? It's as a percentage of the population, obviously.

This is not something me and my friends share anecdotes about, and it's hard to believe that you don't know this:

68% of black children born out of wedlock vs. 26.7% for whites. 62% of black families are headed by a single woman, 67% of black children are born out of wedlock. 70% of high school dropouts and 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes. The statistics are overwhelming.

Renee said...

One of the things that bothers me the most about the black patriarchy is there insistence on blaming women for their lack of social progress. Of course it is all our fault. I further resent the implication that we are holding the race back by not yielding to their demands.

Bianca Reagan said...

renee, that bugs me too. It's not only the black patriarchy either. Most patriarchies blame problems on women, even though women clearly aren't the people in power. Women aren't in control of the governmental and business systems that control the world, yet it is our fault that society is failing?

irwin, your statistics include flaws, in addition to the fact that they aren't referenced or linked.

Just because children are born out of wedlock does not mean that they don't have two parents in their household that care about them. For instance, most states in America don't allow gay marriage. But there are many gay couples who bear and raise children. Like these fathers, who are raising five foster children (four with HIV) whom they can't adopt because they are gay. Or like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, who are not married but are committed partners raising their children together.

Marital status does not determine your capability of being a parent. It is a terribly biased way of determining how a child is raised. It is also inaccurate. Children can be born into wedlocked homes, but a deadbeat dad can check out of that home at any point in time. So even though children could be born while their parents were married, at some point they could only have one parent, just like those children born out of wedlock. But they are not counted as such.

Overall, judging a population based primarily on its marriage rate leaves out many other factors. Like poverty! That's why many Americans are in jail. The black American population is disproportionately poor and incarcerated. I'm pretty sure that as you examine the income levels of most American ethnic groups, you will find that the wealthier you are, the less likely you are to spend time in jail. Also, if "broken homes" are allegedly the main cause of ills in the black community, why are the black women coming from those same homes continuing to do so well?

Irwin Handleman said...

Great point, Bianca. Tons of people across America are just like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon. Can't believe I overlooked that.

I didn't include links because a simple search will bring up an avalanche of evidence contradicting you. It's not hard to find. The fact is fatherless homes are more prevalent in the African American community (as a percentage, not total numbers, just to be clear).

But go ahead, continue to ignore facts and stick to your lovely Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon fantasies.

Renee said...

@ Irwin
68% of black children born out of wedlock vs. 26.7% for whites. 62% of black families are headed by a single woman, 67% of black children are born out of wedlock.
Whether or not a child is born into wedlock is irrelevant when the divorce rate is as high as it is. Having parents who are married is not guarantee that they will stay married throughout your childhood never mind the entirety of your life.

Anonymous said...

I'm all late, but I hadn't seen the celeb clips from Black in America - I gotta go check those out.

And I HAD to say thank you for your commentary on Mr. Jakes. I'm still wondering how my education is hurting black men in America.

Bianca Reagan said...

You're welcome, molecularshyness!