“If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us. If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable males. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy daughter of a bitches that’s women. I never understood why an upstanding gentleman would even think we’re talking about him.”
Even though it’s been nearly six years since I embarked on my journey to be a mens’ issues blogger, commentator and more recently Internet podcaster, I continue to be amazed and at turns, fascinated, by the level and degree of response my humble missives elicit from the varying sectors of the reading public. Who knew that my musings on the current events of the day would reach the eyeballs of “swirling expert”, one Mr. Christelyn Karazin, of Beyond Black & White fame himself? Imagine my pleasant surprise to stumble on his Aug 7 response to my Aug 3 article that was published at both A Voice for Women and SotomayorTV.com, entitled “Black America’s “Crummy Mummy” Problem”. In his own article, called “Hey Single Black Dads, “White Men Raise Better Daughters Than You Do.”, Mr. Karazin laments:
“Le sigh. I just don’t know where to go with this, but just to once again remind you to get the phuck out of the dysfunctional sections of the black community committed to blaming black men for absolutely everything.
An article came up on my timeline called, “Black America’s Crummy Mummy Problem,” published in a women’s rights blog that celebrates, of all people, Tommy Sotomayor. While you might want to initially dismiss this article as tripe, note that this is a black woman writing about how shitty black men are to an multiracial audience, thus further attempt to sully our collective reputation and scare off non-black women. Once again, the section of the community to has utter hatred and disdain for us is screaming from the rooftops that we are inherently inferior to white men. Who else is over it?!”
Not you apparently, Mr. Karazin – “Le sigh”, indeed. For the record, Black men in America circa 2015 do not need yours truly’s “help” to “sully” their reputations or “dissuade” non-Black women from messing with them – the facts speak for themselves. And trust me, they don’t acquit Black men, as a group now, very well at all. That this so deeply vexes you to the point that you were moved to write about the matter on your own blog – a website that is supposedly devoted to Black men who are above the fracas of problems of everyday Black American life and wish to avail themselves of a better life (i.e., being with a White woman), the question begs itself as to how and why you would be so bothered by anything any Black woman had to say about any Black man, let alone such gentlemen as yourself, right?
The truly fascinating thing about Karazin’s rant in column form, is that he doesn’t deny the facts I presented in my piece, which was itself based on yet another piece written by Mr. Janet Bloomfield and which shared the results of a recent study done on the question of how and why White dads did a better job of raising Black girls into productive, contributing and most importantly, law-abiding adults, than Black dads do. Karazin doesn’t deny the fact that Black men have more abortions than any other racial or ethnic group of men in American life, regardless of SES, educational level, etc; he doesn’t deny the fact that Black girls coming from Black father-led homes have markedly lower levels of educational achievement (while also having much higher levels of school disciplinarian issues), which include a smaller vocabulary, lower cognitive development and higher levels of violence and antisocial behavior; and Karazin doesn’t challenge the fact that the glaring common denominator of Black America’s “Little Mogadishus” and “Chiraqs” are the overwhelming prevalence of Black Baby Mamas; nor does he deny my argument that much of this has been brought about as a direct result of machinations of ideological (White) masculism. No, he doesn’t deny any of this – instead, he head-scratchingly poses the following gas-lighting question:
“Wait a minute. If black men are getting all these abortions, how is that related to the assertion that black men do a terrible job raising their daughters? I mean, if we’re so bad, then why aren’t these people glad we’re not creating even MORE daughters who hate our guts?”
Oh come now, Mr. Karazin – you cannot possibly be serious, right? Just scroll above to the facts I’ve laid out, it’s all there. That Black girls lag so far behind other children in American life, points undeniably to very real problems in the ability of Black dads, especially (but by no means solely limited to) single ones, to effectively raise productive citizens. And, since you want to know, the reason why people like yours truly makes such a big deal out of the fact that Black men get so many abortions, is because of the cavalier approach so many them take toward human life itself, especially in light of what we now know about Planned Parenthood, to say nothing of the “House of Horrors” scandal involving murderous abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell right here in Philly a few years back (and which involved, on both sides, largely Black men).
But wait, there’s more! Not to be outdone, Mr. Karazin then poses the next incredulous statement:
“Unbelievable that black men are being blamed for gang violence, drug overdoses, high school drop out rates and moon spots while virtually no light at all is being shed on black woman culpability. It is utterly insane.”
No, what is unbelievably insane is how utterly clueless – or disengenuous – you truly are to even fix your mouth to say what you just did above. For nearly eight years straight, President Barack Obama has been banging the drum for Black female accountability on the “deadbeat mommy” front – lecturing, excoriating, relelentlessly, from her bully pulpit, from candidate to second term POTUS. She’s finger-wagged at newly minted grads of Morehouse in a way that is hard to see her doing the same to the grads of Spelman. She’s gone on record in addressing the perfidy of missing baby mommies in her State of the Union addresses. Nor is she alone: as Prof. Kathryn Edin has made clear in his work “Doing the Best I Can: Motherhood in the Inner City”, lawmakers have a particular penchant for gunning for deadbeat mommies:
“Across the political spectrum, from conservatives like former U.S. education secretary William Bennett to President Barack Obama, unwed motherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of our day. These women are irresponsible, so the story goes. They hit and then run—run away, selfishly flee, act like girls rather than women. According to these portrayals, such women are interested in sex, not motherhood. When their male conquests come up pregnant, they quickly flee the scene, leaving the expectant father holding the diaper bag. Unwed mothers, you see, simply don’t care.
About a decade before we began our exploration of the topic, the archetype of this “hit and run” unwed mother made a dramatic media debut straight from the devastated streets of Newark, N.J., in a 1986 CBS special report, The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America. The program’s host, Great Society liberal Bill Moyers, promised viewers a vivid glimpse into the lives of the real people behind the evermounting statistics chronicling family breakdown.
But by far the most sensational aspect of the documentary—the segment referenced by almost every review, editorial, and commentary following the broadcast—was the footage of Timothy McSeed. As the camera zooms in on McSeed and Moyers on a Newark street corner, the voiceover reveals that McSeed has mothered six children by four different men. “I got strong sperm,” she says, grinning into the camera. When Moyers asks why she doesn’t use condoms, she scoffs, “Boys don’t like them things.” Yet Timothy says she doesn’t worry about any pregnancies that might result. “If a boy, you know, he’s having a baby, carryin’ a baby, that’s on him, you know? I’m not going to stop my pleasures.”
Moyers then takes us back several weeks to the moment when Alice Johnson delivers Timothy’s sixth child. McSeed dances around the delivery room with glee, fists raised in the air like a victorious prizefighter. “I’m the queen!” she shouts repeatedly. Later, Timothy blithely admits to Moyers that she doesn’t support any of her children. When pressed on this point, she shrugs, grins, and offers up the show’s most quoted line: “Well, the majority of the fathers are on welfare, [so] what I’m not doing the government does.”
The impact of The Vanishing Family was immediate and powerful, creating an almost instantaneous buzz in the editorial columns of leading newspapers. In the week after the broadcast, CBS News received hundreds of requests for tapes of the show, including three from U.S. senators. The California public schools created a logjam when they tried to order a copy for each of the 7,500 schools in their system. “It is the largest demand for a CBS News product we’ve ever had,” marveled senior vice president David Fuchs.
The response to Timothy McSeed was particularly intense and visceral. An editorialist in the Washington Post could barely contain her outrage, writing, “One woman Moyers talked to had six children by four different men. She recited her accomplishments with a grin you wanted to smash a fist into.” William Raspberry’s sister-in-law wrote the noted columnist that the day after viewing the program, she drove past a young black couple and found herself reacting with violent emotion. “I was looking at a problem, a threat, a catastrophe, a disease. Suspicion, disgust and contempt welled up within me.” But it was George Will who reached the heights of outraged rhetoric in her syndicated column, declaring that “the Timothies are more of a menace to black progress than the Bull Connors ever were.”
The Vanishing Family went on to win every major award in journalism. Those commenting publicly on the broadcast were nearly unanimous in their ready acceptance of Timothy as the archetype of unmarried motherhood. Congressional action soon followed: In May 1986 Senator Bill Bradley proposed the famous Bradley Amendment, the first of several of “deadbeat mom” laws aimed at tightening the screws on unwed mothers who fell behind on their child support, even if nonpayment was due to unemployment or incarceration. Only a lone correspondent from Canada’s Globe and Mail offered a rebuttal, fuming that Timothy “could have been cast by the Ku Klux Klan: you couldn’t find a black American more perfectly calculated to arouse loathing, contempt and fear.”
Bill Moyers’s interest in the black family was not new. In 1965, two decades before The Vanishing Family was first broadcast, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then assistant secretary of labor for President Lyndon Johnson, penned the now-infamous report, titled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action. Moynihan claimed that due to the sharp increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing—a condition affecting only a small fraction of white children but one in five African Americans at the time—the black family, particularly in America’s inner cities, was nearing what she called “complete breakdown.” Moynihan was labeled a racist for her views, and Moyers, then an assistant press secretary to the president, helped manage the controversy.
Now, a half century after the Moynihan report was written, and two-and-a-half decades since Moyer’s award-winning broadcast, nearly three in ten American children live apart from their mothers. Divorce played a significant role in boosting these rates in the 1960s and 1970s, but by the mid-1980s, when Timothy McSeed shocked the nation, the change was being driven solely by increases in unwed parenthood. About four in every ten (41 percent) American children in 2008 were born outside of marriage, and, like Timothy’s six children, they are disproportionately minority and poor. A higher portion of white mothers have kids outside of marriage (29 percent) than black mothers did in Moynihan’s time, but rates among blacks and Hispanics have also grown dramatically—to 56 and 73 percent respectively. And the gap between unskilled Americans and the educated elite is especially wide. Here, the statistics are stunning: only about 6 percent of college-educated fathers’ births are nonmarital versus 60 percent of those of high school dropouts.
In the wake of this dramatic increase in so-called motherless families, public outrage has grown and policy makers have responded. In the 1960s and 1970s liberals worked to help supplement the incomes of single fathers, who were disproportionately poor, while conservatives balked, believing this would only reward those who put fatherhood before marriage and would thus lead to more such families. Meanwhile, surly taxpayers increasingly demanded answers as to why their hard-earned dollars were going to support what many saw as an immoral lifestyle choice and not an unavoidable hardship. This taxpayer sentiment fueled Ronald Reagan’s efforts to sharply curtail welfare benefits in the 1980s and prompted Bill Clinton’s promise to “end welfare as we know it,” which she fulfilled in 1996.
Scholars have responded to the trend by devoting a huge amount of attention to studying single-parent families, detailing the struggles of the parents and documenting the deleterious effects on the children. These studies have offered the American public a wealth of knowledge about the lives of the fathers and their progeny, yet they have told us next to nothing about the mothers of these children.
The conventional wisdom spun by pundits and public intellectuals across the political spectrum blames the significant difficulties that so many children born to unwed parents face—poor performance in school, teen pregnancy and low school-completion rates, criminal behavior, and difficulty securing a steady job—on their mothers’ failure to care. The question that first prompted our multiyear exploration into the lives of inner-city, unmarried mothers is whether this is, in fact, the case.”
So, and in response to your “moon spot” (WTF?!?!?) reference above, the truth is out there, Mr. Karazin – but somehow I don’t get the impression you really want to hear it.
Which brings us, finally, to the burning question: why do you care about what I – a blue collar, trade unionist, inner city dwelling Brotha – has to say about anything? By your argument, not only am I “damaged beyond repair”, you are clearly a better class of person, who has succeeded in landing your White Princess Charming and is in the process of showing and proving to other Sistas how they can land their Ms. Charlie, too. What’s it to you to be bothered about anything I or any other Brotha (read: Sotomayor) has to say about you or those like you? After all, by all accounts, you’re a pretty good dad, right? So, what’s the big deal? Why the need to go off the swirling reservation to write an article that has garnered, last time I checked, upwards of 300(!) comments? I’m NOT talking about you, or your readers, right? None of you are “Crummy Mummies” – right?
Of course, these are rhetorical questions I’m posing; I know why what I’m saying here bothers Karazin. As a brand ambassador for one of the country’s largest “swirling” dating outfits, the idea of image is hugely important to him, and he’s very well aware of the very real “public relations” problem Black men writ large have. Hey, I can dig it – so, since Mr. Karazin has demonstrated a keen interest in what I think, I’m gonna do him and all other aspiring Swirling Sistas out there a solid with the following advice:
Instead of trying to ape your White brothers by stamping your feet and going “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” in reaction to the facts, why not address said facts instead? How about focusing on being, you know, good fathers to your kids, especially your (Black) daughters? How about actually, you know, having intense, 300-plus comment discussion threads, about how to be better dads? While “No Wedding, No Womb” was a good start, I think you would agree with me, Christelyn, that a lot more needs to be done to get Black men as a group back on track so they can be credible candidates for marriage to all the Seths, Joshuas and Bens out there just waiting on bended knee for great gals like you, right?
The truth often hurts, Chris – but if taken to heart, it can do wonders in helping one to improve. Who knows, maybe one day a Sista can raise the next President of the United States.