Reality shows are known for all things salacious yet lacking the one component it markets itself on representing- reality. On Sunday’s “Real Housewives of Atlanta” reunion part two, viewers witnessed a dose of reality that was almost heartbreaking to watch. Even with the ladies supposed status and money, they were not exempt from the harsh reality of single motherhood.
An entire segment was dedicated to the trials of parenting alone as the women discussed how the fathers’ absence has affected the children. All of the women, with the exception of Phaedra, are or have been single mothers. It is unfortunate single parenting had to be addressed on the one season of the Real Housewives franchise with the predominantly Black cast.
The women of Orange County, New York and Beverly Hills are not without their own familial drama: including a son in and out of jail, foreclosure and raising children alone (Kim Richards and Kelly Bensimon). A number of the women from the other seasons have been married more than once and aren’t technically married to the father of their children. But whites are judged individually. Black folks aren’t afforded such luxury. Sadly, the single mothers of RHOA are a replica of what is occurring in our communities. I’m not sold on the idea that single parenting is working for black women or children.
I’m no secret advocate of the No Wedding, No Womb campaign. I actually totally disagree with the premise of NWNW for a number of reasons, but mainly because marriage is a band-aid solution to a problem that needs surgery. But at what point do Black women and men realize the decisions they are making in regards to parenting, or lack thereof, are creating a community of hurt children?
Kandi’s daughter Riley, at seven years old, is numb due her father’s missing presence in her life. Kandi’s heart was broken as she listened to her daughter express that she didn’t care if she had a dad or not. Black men have to do better. Much better. In every shape, form and fashion, deadbeat dads are unacceptable.
However, black women have to take accountability for the outcome of the situations they land themselves in with sorry men. I’m not in the business of vilifying black women for their sexual choices sometimes resulting in an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, I was raised by a single mother and I’m awesome. Thank you very much. I do though find it hard to believe the men impregnating some women showed any promise of being a good father prior to the pregnancy. Something women have to take a long hard look at is why they are having a child by a man who had never proven to be reliable or responsible. This is not to let men off the hook for dropping the ball, but women aren’t complete victims with no control over the choices they make.
As proof marriage does not guarantee a woman the benefit of an involved dad, one needs to look no further than Kim and Sheree, who were both married to the fathers of their children. Being married did nothing to protect them from the scarlet letter of eventually becoming single moms. Cynthia on the other hand is the antithesis of the former wives who struggle to even receive child support. Cynthia was never married to her daughter’s dad, actor Leon, but he has a great relationship with his daughter and Cynthia. You never know which way the dice are going to roll. But black people need to stop gambling with the lives of kids.
Black people have to wake up before the denigration of our communities is signed, sealed and delivered. The dismantling of our family structure certainly is contributing to the other ills plaguing our communities at higher rates than any other group in America. It’s imperative we begin examining the repetitive circumstances we have control over. From where I’m sitting, single parenting is not working for us. The reality is that the highest percentage of black women living in poverty are those raising children alone. And that reality freakin’ sucks.