Friday, June 20, 2008

The Black Man Dilemna

I'm a black man.

Been one for nearly a decade and I was a black boy and teen before that. As a black man, lots of people are saying that I should be a little pissed at what Obama said about deadbeat black fathers on Father's Day. They tell me that he focused on the negatives, pandered to white folks and threw all the good brothers under the bus.

I say...*Yawn*...

This discussion is so damn boring. It pops up every few months when somebody or some media outlet says something greasy about black fathers. People repeat the same tired arguments on both sides, we yell at each other really loudly and then people go back to their daily lives.

Rinse and repeat.

Obama pandered.
Black men be effing up.
Black women need to consider avoiding trifling cats.
White folks need to stop relying on stereotypes.
The media blows chunks.

See? I covered everything.

Why do we keep arguing about this dumb ass topic? I'm not pretending to be immune to getting sucked into the debate, but I've begun to realize how pointless it really is. The issue has so many landmines that it's pretty much impossible to have an in-depth conversation with strangers without saying something fairly offensive. More importantly, I don't think anyone believes that these discussions are going to solve the main problem.

Too many black kids are growing up without positive male and female influences.

That's the real problem. It doesn't mean all single-parent households are bad or that all two-parent household are good. It means that it seems to work better for kids when they have two parents who share the burden of raising them. Period. And I think that we as a community need to acknowledge that all of us are to blame for the fact that too many kids are not being raised by both parents.

We all like to pretend that we don't understand how somebody could have a kid and not care for them, or how a woman could get pregnant by somebody who is clearly not a good catch. But, that's bullshit because we understand; we just don't want to admit it.

See, we've all dated folks that were subpar and some of y'all have even slept with them. And if you sleep with somebody, then you gave them the chance to be the parent of your child, whether you planned to or not. If we were honest, many of us would admit that we might find it hard to sacrifice the things we like to pay for the care of a baby we never wanted, particularly if the person we had the baby with makes our lives difficult. We might not like to admit that about ourselves, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Those are just the facts.

So, when folks climb on their super high soapboxes, you know the ones that allow them look down on every baby mama and deadbeat daddy, it just tickles me. Because I know that those people really aren't being honest with themselves about what they are capable of doing. Don't get me wrong, irresponsible sexual behavior and failing to care for one's children is wrong, but it's not like these people are the scum of the Earth in most instances. They are just people who've made mistakes.

And I know it may seem like I'm castigating Obama for what he said, but really I don't care. Obama was just pandering to his audience. Black folks would like to believe that he was pandering to racist white people, but the folks with the most vehement dislike for baby mamas and daddys are actually black folks. Many of us love talking about all the trifling black folks doing trifling things, although we bristle when that label is directed towards people we know and love.

So, it's funny to me that folks are all mad at Obama for speaking to an incredibly large segment of his most loyal voting bloc. The fact that his message also resonated with racist white folks who might vote for him was just an added bonus. He was really just giving black people what they like to hear.

Now, let's be clear. I'm not saying that what he said was right, in fact I have several problems with it. One of the main ones is that it gives cover to people like this. I also don't like that a person who excels in giving nuanced answers likes to stick to polemic responses on this issue. However, it really doesn't make my blood boil like it does for some folks. I'm past that phase in my life and I really just want to see how folks are going to solve the problem.

Anyway, I wrote all those words to say this: I'm a black man, I read Obama's speech and I really don't care.

I'm over it.


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I don't know why anyone would get upset about this speech. His dad left him, his single mom struggled, he's trying to be a better father to his own children. what's the controversy?

sytgrl said...

LOL. Thanks for this, I feel the same way. I don't even know why people are saying the speech is about black fathers. It sounded to me like he started with black fathers, then all fathers, then all parents. Also, he's been doing a version of this in his stump speech for a while now.

I also find it funny that many folks were upset that Obama wasn't speaking to black issues, but now that he has, they're upset. Oh well.

I'm more worried right now about the mounting evidence of Bush's war crimes leaking out...

WNG said...

Big Man... I wasn't going to blog today, but my comment on yours got so long that now I'm going to have to post!

Truthiz said...

"Don't get me wrong, irresponsible sexual behavior and failing to care for one's children is wrong, but it's not like these people are the scum of the Earth in most instances. They are just people who've made mistakes."

Ya know Big Man, except for the above highlighted sentences, I agree with pretty much everything else you said!

The truth is, in my line of work, I've dealt with far too much “Human” collateral damage to not recognize that in far too many cases (if not MOST) so-called “parents”, by their very actions, are indeed card-carrying members of the “Scum of the Earth” club.

But I also recognize that far too many, if not MOST, of those “parents” also, suffered as victims of very neglectful and abusive childhoods.

It’s a Vicious cycle because, in far too many_if not MOST_cases, the children of those so-called “parents” tend to suffer the same _OR even worse_ neglects and/or abuses at the hands of their "parents"...and then THAT gets passed on to the next generation.

IMO, until We, as a people, are willing to admit that:

(1). Far too many people within the Black community aren’t just “bad” parents...they are friggin NIGHTMARES!_and (2). their “sickness” is infecting and threatening the whole community...

...then We can’t even begin to effectively “treat” individuals and families_and rid ourselves of the pervasive “illnesses” that plague Our community.

Anyway....Happy TGIF all!

slag said...

In Obama's defense, he has given this speech a couple of times before. Before he became a candidate for President. He also makes it personal by addressing the absence of his own father in his life. That said, from a distance, it definitely appears to be a pander.

Imhotep said...

I've not heard his speech, and maybe I should reserve comment unitl I hear it. What the hell, I'll comment anyway.

I clearly view it as pandering. The brotha was trying to get some votes with that speech, we know he has 90% of our vote, so whose vote was he seeking? It would not be those 20% of white folks who said they would not vote for him cause he a nigga, would it?

Father's day is a time to celebrate the fathers or the father figures. Barack could have talked about those men who step in for the fathers and carry out that role of father figure. Barack was raised by his grandfather and a stepfather, and he benefitted from such a relationship. Why not talk about those brothers, uncles, cousins, who have stepped in to carry out that father figure role.

Instead he takes his turn to dump on the brothers while cozying up to the white man. Get your pandering on!

I know it was father's day and he had to talk about the fathers, but what about these sistas, and their poor decision making in choosing a mate? If the brother is a poor excuse for a dad, how about the mother, she did not see that poor excuse coming? Pun intended. She plays a mighty role in all of this.

I'm not saying brothas are blameless, but in this system we don't catch a break. Some of us don't need a break, but many do. The last thing we need is another talented tenth brotha telling us how f**k-up we are.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Big Man ,

Thanks for the refreshing take on this. I think Barry, said and addressed something that is VERY personal to him, which differs from many soap box jumpers he is being compared to and even attacked by. He was raised in a single parent household and by his grandparents like many blacks. However we tend to trot people like him out and as if they are the rule to single-momma raising and not the exception. For every Barack there are thousands of B-Rocks on the corner chillin’ or even worse behind bars. The fact remains is we need to address it as a community, although, like you said, I doubt we will. We will just go around in circles and debate and be offended and debate and offend then forget until the next joker jumps live on his soap box.

In my life I like getting feedback and not just good, because I believe to be a better person you have to know what you need to improve upon. The fact remains while single parenthood doesn't deny success of a child, parenthood, as in both parents in the same house or at the least committed to the child’s sound upbringing, does greatly improve the likelihood of success. I think that is the gist of this speech we keep hearing over and over and as a community we need to acknowledge. It works out better when there is a mother and father performing there motherly and fatherly duties and not one trying to perform them all. Other cultures acknowledge it.

If he had said this in a church with out cameras or coverage he would just been another guest speaker getting in our kool-aid to claps and amens. If he had aid it at the family reunion most of the same people with the issues now would have co-signed what he was saying.

I think embarrassment drives a lot of this outrage and debate. The plain and simple fact is that while the family unit is in peril in a lot of cultures, the family unit is in the most disarray in the Black- American culture. This saddens me tremendously. However I call a spade a spade.

Have a great weekend.


OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Oh yea I forgot to say as a young woman some of the best advice I got came second hand through a friend of a friend of mine, who's mother told them Do not have sex with any man that you don't THINK will be a good or responsible father. I don't think she included that rule so much to be followed as she did to make them think and think hard of what the consequences of sexual freedom might be.

I will be giving that advice to my son/daughter if I ever have one. Its not one I have always followed but as they say about the law I follow it in intent. *lol*


jelana said...

I agree with what you said but I am not convinced that he was pandering-maybe he was, maybe he wasn't. I believe also that it is a very personal issue with him. He spoke the truth though. In this day and age with every imaginable type of birth control available, this problem need not exist at all. But that is assuming everyone acts responsibly. The problem is complicated. It seems as though young people today have a hole in their souls. I am not sure how we begin to fix that.

Clifton said...

Greeting Big Man,

I have a story that goes to exactly some of the points you were making in this post. I was having a conversation with a lifelong friend of mine about daddy being in the house and everything. We were talking about his dad when he made the following quote "My daddy was such as asshole that it took me years to get rid of everything I learned from him to be a better person". This issue has so many gray areas and we keep trying to simplify it.

the uppity negro said...

I didn't know you were quite this young Big Man...said you were a black man for the last decade, I didn't start my manhood until about 2 years and some change ago when I turned 21, about four days past my bday to be exact.


If we're not moved by what Obama said or at least give it some thougt, then who is? Honestly, I'm really with you on this one. It's HIGHLY frustrating when you go back through your blogs and you realise that you've done a VERY good job of "rinse and repeat" yourself; a VERY good job of repeating yourself day in and day out hollering about the same problems and suggesting the same tired ass solutions. But, as I am now kind of on an upswing of my disillusionment (which hit me real hard in the midst of the internship out here in the lily white suburbs of DC) my question is, if we don't care, then who will?

I mean all of those people you mentioned have something to say and then yes, go back to their lives, but I mean if we don't even recognise our own disillusionment and numbness to the whole situation, then haven't we really given up; ultimately taking the east way out

On another note, I was personally more intrigued by the fact that Obama delivered this speech at Apostolic Church of God, simply known as Apostolic in da Chi, which if anyone know Chicago politricks understands that that church and pastor emeritus, Bishop Brazier, is/was in the Mayor Daler's back pocket which of course is the absolute antithesis of Trinity, his former church and of course his former pastor Jeremiah Wright who I personally recall calling about Apostolic for what he considered their complacency toward the overall well-being of the black folks of the South Side of Chicago. However, historically, Trinity has had more political agitators than Apostolic.

I think it all fits the mold Obama wants to fit, that he's not going to challenge the status quo.


Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

i think it is our nature to question the mundaner and dumb shit, i think thats what i do on my blog

Raving Black Lunatic