Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Addressing The "Black Men Abandon Their Children" myth.

Needless to say, black men are commonly stereotyped as having a strong propensity to abandon their children. The term "abandon" seems to be a preferred term especially by the black female interracial bloggers as well as the so called "black female empowerment" bloggers. The problem is that evidence disputes this stereotype and shows that the source of the stereotype is more so a case of the failure of black men and black women to form stable relationships. In response to President Obama's criticism of black men's alleged absence from their chidlren's lives, this article cites one study disputing the stereotype:
"A month before Obama made this stereotypical and plainly false assertion, Boston University professor Rebekah Levine Coley, in a comprehensive study on the black family, found that black fathers who aren’t in the home are much more likely to sustain regular contact with their children than absentee white fathers, or for that matter, fathers of any other ethnic group. The study is not an obscure study buried in the thick pages of a musty academic journal. It was widely cited in a feature article on Black fathers in the May 19, 2008 issue of Newsweek. There was no excuse then to spout this myth. The facts are totally contrary to Obama’s knock."
Of course, those bloggers insistent on degrading black men will, and and have scoffed at this study citing only their own observations as well as the infamous 70% out-of-wedlock birth rate for African Americans. Basically, to them, every single black child born out-of-wedlock has been abandoned by his or her father. Of course, this would mean that no black couples marry after they have children. This would mean that no unmarried black couples with children cohabitate. This would mean that no black men unmarried to their children's mothers are active fathers.

These bloggers will insist that this statistic as well as their alleged observations of so many little black children who do not know their fathers is proof that black men run away from their responsibilities as fathers. But the reality is that it is not the children that black men run from, it is the mothers of these children that they run from and their absence from their children's lives is a bi-product of not being in the mother's lives and this bi-product is just as prevalent in the lives of non-black men under the same circumstances. Lets look at some research:

"Only a small percentage of nonresident fathers continue to see their child(ren) after a five-year period following divorce (Blankenhorn, 1995; Stewart). This decreased involvement in their child(ren)'s lives by divorced fathers may be the result of constraints experienced by fathers following divorce. Cohen (1998) found that nonresident fathers' involvement in their child(ren)'s lives is subject to an array of constraints, resulting in decreased participation. He reported that "the role of fathering must be squeezed into short meetings under strained and artificial circumstances" (p. 200). If a father chooses to avoid these situations by not seeing his child(ren), the father likely forfeits leisure time with the child(ren)"
As we see, this research keys on men in general and concludes that of all men in general, a small percentage continue to see their children five years after divorce. Clearly, this is not a black male phenomenon. Lets look at more:

"Their findings support differences in fathering activities when controlling for
income, age, education and socioeconomic conditions of wives or co-habitators.
They found that African American fathers are ‘far more likely to monitor and supervise their children’s activities’ (p. 92) and suggest that these men are more strict, cautionary, and authoritarian than European American parents."
And more excerpts from the same website:

"Housaain et al. (1997) found that African American fathers spent more time providing physical care, feeding, and soothing of their infants than European American fathers."
"Comparison of adjusted income means indicate that African-
American fathers reporting more frequently participating in caregiving activities than Latino and European American fathers. In addition, African American
fathers also reported participating in more cognitive activities with their child
than European American and Latino fathers reported. African American and
Latino fathers reported signifi cantly more social skills activities with the focus
child than did European American fathers."
"Race or ethnic differences in reported fathering activities were examined.
As stated earlier, a number of studies have focused on absent fathers in minority
communities and have supported the idea that minority, particularly African
American fathers are not as involved with their children as European American
fathers (Carter, 2001; Hamer, 1997; Lindholm, 1997; Mincy, 2002). The current
study found differences in reported caregiving activities across race and
ethnicity. Toth and Xu (1999) found that African Americans fathers were more likely to supervise and monitor their children’s activities. The findings of this study supports this in that African American fathers reported participating in significantly more hands-on caregiving activities than either Latino or European American fathers. This finding is important because prior studies failed to examine some of the caregiving activities that were included in the measure used in the current study. As a result, African American fathers may be involved in different ways than had been previously reported in that they may participate in more traditional maternal activities. This present study supports the findings of Toth and Xu (1999) that the ‘stereotype of irresponsible and nonsupportive African American fathers is inaccurate and should be rejected’ (p. 92)"
"Both African American and Latino fathers reported higher levels of
participating in social activities than European American fathers. Social activities
are an important concept in early infant development (Parke et al., 2002). This
supports the idea that African American and Latino fathers may participate more in socializing their children especially in such activities as taking their child to
visit extended family and friends. Toth and Xu (1999) found that Latino fathers
reported participating in more activities such as spending time in leisure activities
such as picnics, movies, sports, etc. They report that in contrast to European
American families, African American and Latino fathers ‘tend to reinforce the
norms of family closeness … and monitor and supervise their children more’
(p. 92)."

"It should be noted that there may be an issue with sampling bias within the
sample of African American fathers. Although mothers indicated a father’s
presence in the child’s life, there was some diffi culty in interviewing African
American fathers. One reason for this might be that a higher percentage of these
men were not married or residing with the mother of the child. Researchers
in the current study found it easier to contact and interview fathers who were
residential fathers. As a result, given the higher percentage of African American
fathers not residing with the child, our African American fathers might be slightly
different than the European American and Latino fathers."

"Despite these limitations it is clear that minority fathers are involved with their
children although not always in recognized ways."

So basically, when fathers of similar income who don't reside with their children are compared, African American fathers are more involved with their children. Surprising? I'm sure that this will surprise many based on the media and sell-out driven stereotyping of black men. Many black women will not give credence to these studies because they don't want to accept that their failures to win the hearts of men have a direct impact on their children. Black children reside in single parent households at just under three times the rate of white children and it is this fact, not some imaginary desire of black men to abandon their children, that drives the absent father phenomenon in the black community.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

"What Single Women Can Learn From Michelle"

From The Root:

Would most Type A, professional women have dated Barack when he was a broke, big-eared organizer with a funny name?

America has fallen for the Obamas. The history, the high glamour, the PDAs on the White House lawn. It’s a universal picture of love. But for many successful black women, with college degrees, ambitious careers and five-year plans, that enchantment has become something of an obsession.

Those of us hoping to find suitable mates in a dating landscape that is, statistically speaking, pretty grave, are absolutely giddy about the very existence of the first family and especially about the possibility that we could find our own Barack.

We’d give up three hair appointments in a row, our designer puppies and that annual tropical vacation with our best grad-school friends to meet a man like him. Brilliant. Confident. Best smile ever. So into his wife. On the cover of April’s issue of Washingtonian magazine, he appears shirtless to illustrate the publication’s No. 2 reason to love D.C. (“Our new neighbor is hot!”) But if we’d first encountered him the way Michelle did, as a regular guy, under the glow of office lights instead of the spotlight, would he have made our lists at all?

In footage that plays when the networks mention how our cool, young, black president shot hoops with his staff and friends on Election Day, Obama is close to gawky in a simple gray T-shirt tucked in just a bit too tightly. Between plays, you notice tapered pants pulled up a little too high. A slightly skinny build. In those few frames, he’s not the hottest guy on the court, let alone in the country. When he appeared as a presidential candidate on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, my initial swoon as he stepped on stage was short-lived. He playfully hip-bumped the host in an overly bouncy dance routine that embarrassed me into looking away. Suddenly, I was watching my boss get down at the company Christmas party or a friend’s dad grooving to Earth, Wind and Fire at her wedding. Not bad. Endearing, even. But “swagga” did not spring to mind. Sure, Obama is a dad and a boss to many . . . but I get the impression he’s been dancing like that his whole life.

I’ve played matchmaker, unsuccessfully, for scores of black professional women. And I’m convinced that Michelle’s got something on many of us. Not her intelligence or her confidence or sense of style, her glowing skin or the carved silhouette of her arms. I could fill a room with friends who have all these qualities to spare. I’m talking about the choices I imagine she made in those crucial moments between meeting Barack and deciding who he would be to her. She must have focused on an abundance of goodness instead of his hint of goofiness and fixated on a warm smile instead of a pair of oversized ears. It’s easy to see now that he was a great catch, but how many of us would have been open to this guy who strayed so far from the black Prince Charming ideal, starting with his very name?

My single friends and I mingle at events dubbed Pandora and Equilibrium, or with long acronyms about political engagement or the black community, where open bars and soul food buffets are the draw but really not the purpose. I will often identify a black man who “someone should be dating” and talk him up to a female friend, colleague or neighbor, offering descriptors like: Funny. Laid-back. Attractive. And more honest ones like: Ambitious. Shy. Soft but not fat.

Just as I picked at the less-than-cool undercurrents of that presidential pickup game and talk-show dance party, my female friends home in on the negative as they snub my suggestions.

His toes were ashy.

He seems like he’d be a really cool friend, but I don’t know, those lips. . .

He was wearing a bubble coat, and seriously, it was not that cold.

We had a good conversation, but I like a man to be more aggressive.

That was our second and last date. He used the word “authentic” like 14 times.

How many times do I have to tell you I’m looking for someone TALL and HOT? Keywords being tall and hot.

He drank a hot chocolate instead of coffee. What is he? A 6’4’’12-year-old? (I’m putting myself out there—this was my own reaction to an otherwise pleasant date just a few years ago.)

In these comments are echoes of my conversations in mini-communities of black professionals—at brunches, bar-passing celebrations and housewarming parties. I think of my years at Harvard Law School, which has 150 black students at any given time. One would have thought that the Black Law Students Association was a group of first cousins; dating among members was so unusual and so scandalous when it did occur. In these “professional” contexts, women are shaking with one hand and tossing men right into the friend zone with another. Across the country and over the years, the take-away often has the same theme: There was not a single guy there I would date.

Yeah, he was tall, but his head seemed a little small for his body.

It was loud in there, so I’m not sure. Did I detect a stutter?

Boy, was he sweating!

He seems like someone who would like Star Trek.

I don’t care if he can’t see. He should have left those glasses at the office.

He was dancing (or worse, trying) way too hard.

To read the full article go here.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"The Decline of Men"

I was reading some articles on Guy Garcia who is the author of the book, "The Decline of Men: How the American Male Is Tuning Out, Giving Up and Flipping Off His Future." I found it interesting in that with this whole shebang thrown out by IR bloggers and the so-called 'black female empowerment' movement regarding the "damaged black male", we have an author who analyzes such damage, yet does so from the standpoint of ALL males. What you hear from the author sounds quite similar to the various descriptions of black men tossed around by these particular ladies. Here are some excerpts from an interview with the author:

"We do know that men are losing traction in high schools. The same is true in colleges, where 59% of all students are female. Harvard professors tell me male students have lost their drive and ambition, women tell me they can't find a guy who's not a dummy, slacker, cheater or loser. Men of every stripe and part of the country are telling me they feel confused, besieged and worried that they have lost their place in society, that they have lost their bearings as men. They sense the male gender is adrift and increasingly dismissed, denigrated and demonized -- by the media, by women, even by other men. And that's just the tip of the iceberg."

"Let's start with the says-it-all title of Maureen Dowd's post-feminist creed, "Are Men Necessary?" The answer, of course, is yes, we are. The reason is that in this great unraveling of gender roles and male identity, one of the casualties has been the nuclear family. Last year, for the first time ever, single people outnumbered married people. More than ever boys are growing up in single-parent homes without fathers who can guide them into adulthood. And we've known for a long time that boys who grow up without strong male role models are more likely to drop out of school, make less money, be more likely to use drugs or get in trouble with the law and, ultimately, end up divorced themselves. It's a downward spiral."
And more...

"It goes way beyond that. The industries projected to grow in the next few decades are mostly in the service sector, where communication, collaboration and multitasking rule. At the same time many of the industries that favor the physical and mental attributes of males are shrinking or disappearing. Women in their 20s in the 10 largest U.S. cities already out-earn men of the same age. The trend is pretty clear."
And finally...

"Your examples are all symptoms of male decline. Men have been conditioned to be selfish, greedy and aggressive. Infidelity and perfidy are manifestations of insecurity. Society has taught men that it is manly to be competitive, to make as much money as possible, to win at any cost. I would add the war in Iraq and the implosion of Wall Street to the list of troubles that have been brought about by the old-fashioned, swaggering macho approach to politics, economics and life in general. Yet in spite of this -- or partly as a result of it -- other guys have simply given up. They sense that they've lost the high ground (and the future) to women, and they aren't even trying anymore. They've opted out to become jackasses, stoners and slackers. Responsibility is shirked, and adolescence is extended indefinitely."

If we listen to the various IR bloggers and black female empowerment demagogues, one would believe that only such descriptions apply to black men. Of course, they will argue that this trend is at a greater level among black men, but in such a case, should they not argue that the "unraveling of gender roles" that is pushed by the modern woman is at a greater level among black women? Is this push toward dominance the very thing that so many black women call "strenth" and wouldn't their fantasized mass migration away from the black community (black men) and toward white men result in hurrying the process of white men giving up at the level that black men have? How will it affect masses of white men when they are cursed out for expressing an honest view on race to their black wives? We know that black America is always the canary in the mine and as Pat Moynihan showed, black America is often a glimpse of white America's future.

Amanda Platell states it quite well here:

"But perhaps what we should be asking is: who turned men into sissies?

The answer to that is we women. Women wilfully feminised men to make them less masculine, less challenging to our ambitions, less competition for us. We emasculated them.

As a result, we've destroyed the core of their being, their masculinity. We've led them astray and away from the very qualities we intrinsically find most attractive in a man.

We told them we loved their feminine side, then came to despise it. We convinced them we wanted to be equal breadwinners, then began to resent it.

We loved the idea of earning more than our men, more than any man, yet lost respect for them when it was us bringing home the bacon.

But men have been culpable in all this, too. Sure, we gave them a social duffing up, but they gave in to it. The feminisation process sneakily appealed to their intrinsic vanity, and sharing the career workload played to many men's innate laziness.

I disagree with Garcia when he says 'men aren't giving up - they're being run over because they're lazy and can't multi-task'. There is nothing more energised, more vital than a man who is loved and respected for being a successful man, a provider and a father.

But partly because of the way women have systematically traduced men and their manliness, partly because of the way we as a society have feted and institutionalised single motherhood, from the council estate to the boardroom, we haven't left much for men to do or be that is unique to them.

Even the education system is now skewed against them. Garcia is correct when he says that girls are outperforming boys at school, but it's not because they are brighter or more adept at surviving in a post-modern world, but because of the liberal engineering of state education that has made it more sympathetic to girls' learning skills and less so to those of boys.

And with the huge increase in university-educated girls, there is a social timebomb ticking.

In America, over the past 25 years the number of female undergraduates has grown more than twice as fast as their male counterparts.

According to Garcia, by 2006 women outnumbered men on American college campuses by more than two million.

Again, if the tables were turned and women were wildly outnumbered today in universities and if men were overtaking their achievements, there would be an outcry.

The feminists view the current state of play in the war of the sexes as a great victory - they feel it proves they were right and that women were smarter than men all along.

But it's like two armies locked in battle, one armed with bayonets, the other with Kalashnikovs. It's not been a fair fight.

One survey Garcia cites shows that, on average, females between the ages of 21 and 30 earned 117 per cent of males' wages in the same group.

And while women's wages have soared, wages for men have declined.

'Men are not just getting poorer, they're also getting dumber,' he says. And he's right. Beneath the lip gloss of metrosexual modern male, men are in trouble.

Men of all ages are becoming increasingly 'angry, suspicious, reactionary and isolated' because women have treated the men's natural roles without respect.

Who wouldn't become reactionary when all that you knew had been demeaned, taken from you or chipped away?

Who wouldn't feel isolated when society had institutionalised fatherlessness, thus eradicating the most vital and enhancing role any man can play in his life?

Garcia goes so far as to argue that the roles have flipped so much from the way they were, say, 50 years ago - and that men have become so emasculated and feminised - that 'men are the new women'.

If that's true, and sadly it is for some men, then women have a lot to answer for. And perhaps the greatest irony is that it's us who are the losers in the end.

You show me a woman who isn't attracted by strength, success, masculinity and I'll show you a lesbian.

Garcia argues that it is 'an undeniable reality that women are poised to become the dominant gender in America, and in many ways already are'.

With men already in decline, it's only going to get worse. Deep in a recession with so many jobs at risk, a man's native, competitive provider survival spirit has never been more necessary to millions of families' survival, and yet never have these qualities been so systematically diminished.

So when we most need men to be men, we've created a disproportionate number of men who are more pussycats than lions. Perhaps the real Decline Of Men has only just begun.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, they'll throw off their Prada, ditch the pedicures, stop crying and get in touch with their masculine side again. We can only hope."
Well Amanda. Take the negative influences on men you state above, multiply by three or four at the least, and you have the plight of black men in this post feminism world.