“72% of black babies born to unmarried women…”

The statistic in my post’s title is indeed a fact. 72% of black babies are born to unmarried women which is higher than the percentage of other groups. By comparison: 17% of Asians, 29% of whites, 53% of whites, and 66% of Native American babies are born to unmarried mothers. This information was discovered in 2008, so I’m sure that the percentages have risen since then, even if only slightly. However, because of the various socioeconomic issues surrounding the black community, the 72% sticks out like a green hat with an orange bill.

On November 6, an article titled ‘No Wedding, No Womb’? was written by Jesse Washington in the Chicago Sun-Times. “No Wedding, No Womb” is an “online movement” created by Christelyn Karazin, who is black and a former single mother. Karazin created the movement in order to get more black men and women to accept accountability for their actions in regards to the structure (or lack thereof) of families in the black community. “Karazin says it’s not her intent to “bash single mothers”, but to “abstain from having children until they are emotionally, physically and financially able to care for them.”

I agree with her point about not having children until you have those three areas covered. However, I figured that there would be women who would find it hard to believe that she did not intend to “bash single mothers”. One black woman born to a single mother, Tracy Clayton said, “It carries a message of shame”. I’ve skimmed through the website, and seen stories ranging from “Since when is it lame to save yourself till marriage?” to “One Midwife’s Advice For An End to Baby Mama Drama”, and I was neither repulsed nor captivated. I get the point of the website, but I’m not exactly sure if it provides any solutions to the “epidemic”. It seems like a site where a good number of black women can vent about social problems that afflict them and others like them.

There are many reasons for the high number of black babies born to unmarried women. Spineless women and men. Boys in the bodies of men and girls in the bodies of women. Growing up in a broken home. A lack of education. Segregation. Racism. Stupidity. I don’t think that the blame can be pinned squarely on one factor. There are simply too many variables.

Can we focus on being good parents moreso than getting married?!

Yes, black men need to step it up more often and be fathers to their children, even if they don’t want to continue a relationship with the mothers of their children. There is no excuse for an able-minded and able-bodied adult man to not do everything in his power to provide for his child/children. It is not necessary to have a Bachelor’s or earn a six-figure income in order to take care of your offspring. Men have worked as cashiers at your local McDonald’s and were responsible, caring fathers at the same time. I understand that the mere possibility of raising a child is frightening, but that’s no excuse to skip out on your responsibilities as a parent. If you need help, ask. Don’t be ashamed to confide in someone and share your fears with them. This is 2010; it’s okay to show that you’re emotionally vulnerable. Anyone who doesn’t feel that it’s okay for you to admit that you’re scared of something is someone who you don’t need to be associated with. Men need to stop letting everyone know about their machismo and high level of testosterone and do what’s necessary to be a MAN. Raising a child is not just another job, so don’t quit when you realize it doesn’t fit your present lifestyle.

I refuse to let black women off the hook, though. A woman is the last line of defense when it comes to having sex. Here’s a little advice, ladies: If you’re not comfortable with the fact that your guy doesn’t want to use contraception while having sex, then refuse his advances. Don’t put yourself at risk of contracting an STD or being impregnated. Unfortunately, too many black women don’t subscribe to this belief. If they did, there would be less diseases spread and babies born to unmarried mothers. Don’t blame black men for your inability to stand up for yourself and demand that they use protection. I’ve heard many a woman say, “I don’t carry condoms with me” or some variation of that. I can’t say that I don’t totally understand why so many women practice this. Because of ridiculous societal double standards, women who carry condoms might be seen as promiscuous. It’s perfectly understandable why no woman would want be to labeled in that way. However, double standards are almost always ridiculous, and at times, ignorant. You don’t need to carry a 6-pack of Trojans in your purse at all times, but keeping one or two wouldn’t hurt. Sometimes men just don’t have a condom, and it wouldn’t hurt if you could provide assistance. If you’re dealing with a mature man, he won’t respond to you pulling out a condom with a snicker or sideways look. If he does, put that raincoat back in your purse and wish him well in his future endeavors. I won’t have any sympathy for you if you choose to act oblivious to the potential dangers of having unprotected sex and then end up in a precarious situation because of it.

I don’t believe that the issue should be whether or not too many black babies are being born to unmarried women. We should be trying to figure out a way to help black men be black fathers. I was born to an unmarried woman, as was my little brother, and we turned out just fine. Though it was no fault of our father, he wasn’t around to raise us. I know black men and women who were also born to unmarried, single women, and turned out to be productive members of society. I admit, I tend to ignore all of the statistics about children that grow up in fatherless homes. I think that it gives single mothers a pass, failing to indict them for not doing a good job of parenting.

In my opinion, it is an insult to insinuate that black children are at a disadvantage because their mother happens to be single. It’s sad that someone feels that a child growing up in a home without a father is headed down a path of despair and self-destruction. There are plenty of black children who grow up in a home with two parents who end up uneducated, jobless, and imprisoned. “I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy,” Dr. Natalie Carroll said. She’s absolutely right. But they don’t have to be married in order for that to happen.

More black women don’t need to marry. More black women need to be smart and selective.
If more black women want to marry, there’s nothing wrong with that, although I don’t see why so many black women harp on a shortage of good black men. Demetria Lucas, relationship editor for Essence magazine, says that black women are having a hard time finding suitable black husbands. Is it implausible for a black woman to date outside of her race? I don’t understand why any black woman would limit herself to one race of men. Personal preference is one thing, but it seems that a good number of black women seem to think that the only fit men are the ones who they don’t see as very…fit. I don’t advocate dating outside of your race just for kicks or because you’ve “given up” on your own. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to at least give other races a closer look before declaring that they’re not for you.

Law Professor Amy Wax said, “Blacks as a group will never be equal while they have this situation going on, where the vast majority of children do not have fathers in the home married to their mother, involved in their lives, investing in them, investing in the next generation.” I don’t totally agree with this, but I do agree when she opined that while discrimination caused blacks’ present problems, only black action can cure them.

We can argue who is more at fault for so many black babies being born to unmarried women, but until we take action, all we’ll get done is more arguing, which will inevitably cause more division between black men and women.

P.S. I miss Karen and the Moondance Woman!!!

P.P.S. Yes, Sarah…I will marry you and your girlfriend for a small fee of $31.04…

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