Time to Get Serious About the 73 Percent Out-of-Wedlock Birth Rate

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February 22, 2011 ‐ By Christelyn Karazin

A friend of mine in my blog network posted some information about a psychological coping strategy I’d never heard of before: normalcy bias.  It refers to a mental state some people experience in the face of an impending disaster and underestimate the possibility of devastation or destruction.  Think Hurricane Katrina.  Tornado Alley.  The black out-of-wedlock rate.

73 percent–yes, 73–of black children are being born without the benefit of two married parents living in the home, and our collective, sluggish response to an epidemic that most surely will destroy us is usually outrage–at the messenger, not the problem.  And while being a baby mama or daddy may seem normal, the result of our cavalier attitude is leading to a major devastation.  Maybe not today.  Maybe not in a year.  But as sure as I write, it’s coming.  Just look around.

Recently, a 16-year-old boy killed his single mother with a claw hammer because she took away his Play Station.  Ninety students at a Memphis high school are either pregnant or lactating as we speak.  Baby mamas are brawling at Chuck-E-Cheese over trifling baby daddies.  Well-fed fourth grade black boys can’t read as well hungry, poor white boys. The C.D.C. recently conducted a study that said family structure can negatively influence children’s health.  I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

The storm isn’t coming, it’s already here.  The winds are whipping, the dams and levees are breaking, and bodies are floating right by us, and yet, some of us keep saying, “Well, it’s not that bad!  I was raised by a single mom/dad and I came out all right!” Well, how lucky for you.  And you be the problem.

We have become a society that is so completely self-centered and self-indulgent that we just don’t seem to give a crap.  It’s an “I got mine, the hay-ell with you!” mentality that is eating us alive, swallowing us whole into an abyss so dark and dismal we may never crawl out of it.

The 73 percent out-of-wedlock eclipses all other races.  The closest is Latinos, at 51 percent.  Our shameful numbers overshadow all other negative statistics attributed to blacks, including the drop out rate, men and women in prison, homicide, poverty, H.I.V./A.I.D.S., drug use and unemployment.  Our “black leadership” is quick to complain and cite EVERYTHING EXCEPT the out-of-wedlock rate, likely because they are afraid of the backlash and fear of offending our delicate constituents if they actually hold us accountable for a factor that we, indeed, can control.

“The African-American community has a high rate of children born in single parent homes and domestic violence because of historical trauma but more so now because of a generation who is heavily influenced by negative images of what it means to be black,” says Lyn Twyman, domestic violence advocate, radio personality and founder of CourageNetwork.com, “It’s time that African-Americans take back their communities and start promoting healthy images, healthy relationships and healthy families. We can’t let the negative define who we are as a people.”

And mesdames, the world is watching.  And they are laughing at us, or shaking their heads in pity.  Someone once asked me during an asinine Twitter battle why they should care what someone, for example, from France, thought of black people.  To her I say this: we are living in a global economy.  The world is now a very, very small place.  You may not care what France or China thinks of you, but how about when it’s time for your child to find a job and can’t because someone at an international company thinks all black people look act the folks on B.E.T. rap videos?  Will you care then?

Christelyn D. Karazin is a health writer and co-author of Swirling: How to Date, Mate and Relate Mixing Race Culture and Creed (to be released February 2012), and runs a blog, www.beyondblackwhite.com, dedicated to women of color who are interested and or involved in interracial and intercultural relationships. She is also the founder and organizer of “No Wedding, No Womb,” an initiative to find solutions to the 72 percent out-of-wedlock rate in the black community.

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  • http://mynameismisswhite.blogspot.com/ Miss White
  • http://www.socialitedreams.com Socialite Dreams

    But you're coming from the bias that it's okay because it happens that you are a single mom of an out of wedlock kid…was that what you always wanted/planned for in life? or is that what you are okay with since it's the reality of your situation?

    You say on the one hand that it isn't best to be married and have children then say "the only way to prevent (oow kids) is through education" so then having them out of wedlock is the uneducated/unthought out way to have them? And of course you can raise your daughter as well as a married woman but you can't raise her as a married MAN which is the point, dad and mom.

    Wouldn't it be nice to not have to worry about doing double the work to hope that she doesn't feel that something is missing?

    It being 'annoying' to talk about doesn't mean that it isn't something worthy of speaking on, it has way more effects than some light vs dark bs. Good read on that: http://survivingdating.com/crabs-in-a-barrel-baby

    • ProudSingleMother

      you misunderstood or maybe i failed to articulate my opinion. whatever the case. I understand what you mean about a married man being there for a child, but a married man isnt always the best person in every case. You ladies made it quite clear that you believe that if you choose the right mate, you should have nothing to worry about and i am saying that is untrue. I know a lot of people who have kids that have not been raised correctly (or atleast according to societies eye) who are black, white, and hispanic. All im saying is that this is a mute point because once it has happened to somebody (having a child out of wedlock) it has happened, the thing we should also be discussing is what should we do about that. Do we down them and make them feel like they are terrible people because of one "wrong" decison? All i am trying to say is that God has things happen for a reason, there is a reason why this is happening. Why? You'll have to ask God. But to you question, yeah it would be nice not having to worry about doing double work to hope she doesnt feel something missing, but thats not the case right now because her father is in her life. I titled myself as single mother because I am technically not married but she has plenty of positive male role models in her life that I am not worried about her feeling something missing because alot of people love her. You have to realize that there are people out there who never met there fathers(two men i know) and they are perfectly fine, matter of factly the most intelligent men that I know.
      And I am not saying it is being uneducated to have a child out of wedlock, because people are going to do what they want to do regardless of the reprocussions sometimes. Everybody is different and you cant just settle with a one sided opinion on this issue because everybody story is different. Maybe somebody got raped and they dont even know who their father is. I am not completely disagreeing with you just trying to help you realize this topic requires an open mind…

      • http://www.socialitedreams.com Socialite Dreams

        Gotcha…..I can get down with everything that you are saying except for "All i am trying to say is that God has things happen for a reason, there is a reason why this is happening. Why? You'll have to ask God." because God wasn't in it when someone was getting down with someone that they weren't married too or is effing outside of a marriage now considered godly? I think the bible says some harsh things about fornication and folks seem to completely turn a blind eye to that part when touting how every baby is a blessing…otherwise, I get your points

      • EMB

        Don't put God in this. God didn't tell you to be irresponsible with birth control and have a child out of wedlock. God didn't tell you to select a mate that wouldn't make you a wife and raise that child in a LOVING two parent home. Don't blame God for your misfortune.

  • joy

    I grew up in a two parent married home. It still wasn’t right. There was no physical abuse but my father was not the husband and father he should have been. I actually preferred that my parents seperated because after a while you get tired of the arguing and issues that were in the marriage. I believe that children should grow up in a well maintained good environment even if that means a child have to grow up in a single family household to get it. I still didn’t get the father daughter relationship that I wanted and I lived in the same household with my father for 18 years. Its all up the individuals involved. A mother and a father can give the love and care to their children even if they are apart. Its not always guarenteed that if you grow up in a two parent home that you would turn out any better.

  • http://twitter.com/mikofranklin @mikofranklin

    Boy, do I love this argument. I wish I could facebook "like" it a million times. Black people are foolishly supporting single mother families by using the very example you mentioned: "i was raised by a single mother and i'm ok." Are you? As a woman raised by a single mother, I am not foolish enough to say that. Sure, I have a good job, am educated and don't have kids out of wedlock. BUT, ask my husband and he will tell you how hard it is for me to compromise with a man because I didn't grow up with a father figure. Being raised by a single mother definitely has negative effects. Those effects might not always be evident, but they are there. I wrote a similar story a few months ago after listening to our nation's youngest African American supreme court justice speak on this very subject: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/5532838/

  • http://www.boldlioness.com Denise Bolds, MSW

    Excellent! Please contact me about being a guest on my blog talk radio show – I have over 20,000 listeners and the show I produce is called Black Motherhood Empowerment http://www.blogtalkradio.com/denise-bolds
    Here is link to my web page – I am the author of Raising Princes to be Kings: A Single Balck Mother's Guide to Raising Her Black Son. http://www.boldlioness.com
    THANK YOU!!!!
    DBMSW

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