Wednesday, July 8, 2009

1. The absence of fatherhood in general, but especially in minority and low-income homes.

For one thing, it is fairly likely - in MANY, not all cases - that a man in the home with some earning power and ambition can keep his family out of low-income situations (however, some people try their best to provide for their families and find that they can only do so much). We need fathers not only to provide financially, but to also provide the discipline and structure that children need when they are growing up. Without this structure and a positive male role model in the home, children are left to seek substitutes, a phenomenon that doesn't turn out too well in most cases. These situations lead to unexpected behavior patterns that are really cries for help and for that love of a father. Don't believe me?
In his song "It's Your World" off his 2005 album, Be, Rapper Common said,

"My mother gave birth, but she really never had me
Left to the hood to play Daddy
Raised by niggas named Butch, Puda, Bebe..."

Don't believe him? Fine, don't just take his word for it, how about Lupe Fiasco, who in his song "He Say, She Say" off his 2005 debut album, Food and Liquor, wrote about the absence of fatherhood from the point of view of a fatherless young man?

"To be a man, she try to make me understand
That she my number one fan
But it's like you booin' from the stands
You know the world's out to get me, why don't you give me a chance?"

One surefire way to eliminate this problem is that we have to educate and empower our young people to make the proper decisions when it comes to sex. Having been raised a Christian, I believe that abstinence is the way to go, but the truth is that young people are experimenting very freely with sex these days. It's rather hard to teach abstinence to those who have already let the "cat" out of the bag (take that however you want) but we can at least offer tools for safe sex.The truth is that many young fathers tend to leave when they get the phone call, leaving their children to be raised by a single mother and other influences that are around (more on this when I get to #2 on the list.) I think most women have realized this by now, so it's time that we respect and love ourselves and our children (whether or not we have any yet) to make the decision to wait until we have achieved the financial and emotional stability *translation - a decent and steady source of income and TWO loving parents that all children need. The balance between the nurturing of Mom and the discipline of Dad are essential to every child.

Now that that's out of the way, let's switch gears a bit. Many young men are not fathers simply because their fathers weren't around and they argue that they don't know how to be fathers. This is a problem, and it is unfortunate.
Shaq's biological father didn't bother. He's still a success, and a father to his kids. President Barack Obama only met Barack Sr. once, and yet he is quite successful, a husband, and a father to his two children. In fact, he has a lot to say about fatherhood.

My father's mother was shot and killed by his dad, her husband, when my dad was only 10 years old. He still raised my brother and I and remained faithful to his wife. In fact, his two brothers, my uncles, are fathers and husbands as well. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, as long as we are living and breathing we have the opportunity to change for the better and make amends for the mistakes we have made. With that being said, young men have to realize that by engaging in the activities that create children (a.k.a. SEX) we increase the risk of having children and need to be willing to step up to the plate and be men if and when the time comes. Don't want children? Stay out of bed. That's the only surefire way to take care of it. Being a man means having the discipline and self-control to keep away from these adverse circumstances, or at least having the decency and responsibility to own up for one's mistakes and tale care of and make provisions for them. It's not about how many women you bed, it's about controlling ourselves and therefore the outcomes and situations that we create for ourselves and others. We need to stand up and be men, fathers, and positive male role models for the children growing up - whether we were fortunate enough to have had the influence of such men in our lives or not. We owe it to ourselves not to repeat the mistakes of absentee fathers and to continue in the tradition of those that were present - whichever applies.