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

February 22, 2011  |  

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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