Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Al Reynolds, Crack Babies, & Single Black Mothers [#NWNW]

Do you guys remember those crack babies of the 1980s we heard so much about back then. You know, that new subhuman species of black folks born into addiction to cocaine, and destined to be the scourge and destruction of society as we know it? Yep, remember them now?

They even became a running joke!

Have you ever wonder what happened to them? Surely you have because obviously everything wrong in society or the black community can be attributed to their existence, right? As destructive as crack was to the black community in the 1980s, one can only imagine just how they're all grown and running wild, right?

Now consider this for a second: Nobody ever talks about crack as a "problem" anymore. Yep, Nino Brown is dead, and I'm pretty sure the infamous "Carter Houses" now exist in a high-rent district as a result of urban gentrification. But today the scourge of the day is meth, but yet we never hear about "meth babies", do we?

In a New York Times piece titled "The Epidemic That Wasn't," it was revealed by researchers who followed prenatal exposure to cocaine that, "the long-term effects of such exposure on children's brain development and behavior appear relatively small" and are "less severe than those of alcohol and are comparable to those of tobacco."

So how did this narrative exist as reality? Well, for starters, we now know through research that the "crack baby" meme of the 1980s. was nothing more than a media driven myth. Yes, crack was a "black thing"; and obviously since white America fixates on anything negative about the black community, it's easy to see how the media stepped up to further polarize the country by creating the hype of the crack baby, while pursuing a nefarious and egregious war on drugs.

No such thing is being said about children born to meth addicts. I mean why would they when the addiction to meth isn't associated with poor black folks in urban communities. Never mind that meth is more addictive than crack cocaine. The fact that it's not one of those "black folks problem," made the babies off limits. And who owns and operates these media outlets? Well it damn sure isn't Halle Berry's son "Isaiah" raised by white folks.

You see, we as minorities have long existed in a precarious position. That would be, we have never been in positions where we were able to control the media driven narratives of ourselves while we struggle with how we are perceived by the dominant culture. Which I guess is as evident by the disgust expressed by most black bloggers in relation to CNN's recent Black In America III offering. But yet and still, many of us buy into those media narratives hook, line, and sinker. Yep, internalized oppression is a bitch, folks.

So here we are today where an Illinois  Republican Tea Party candidate, Al Reynolds, actually believes that the black men in his community at least, prefer dealing or doing drugs and having babies out of wedlock as opposed to pursuing a higher education. And why would anyone not agree with him given another media driven myth that says more black men are in prison than in college.

As black folks (and minorities in general) we must be careful of the narratives we buy into. We must be cognizant that many of them are promulgated by the right-wing conservative mindset that exists in American dominant culture. A mindset by folks who refuse to buy into the harsh realities of institutionalized racism, capitalism, and the ongoing class warfare of which people who look like me are continuously on the losing end of the battle.

When someone who looks like us starts a campaign that degrades single black women, and black men in general, in an attempt to bring awareness to the "problem" that is fatherless children being raised in the black community who offers marriage as a solution. An organization that promotes marriage as the savior of the black community without acknowledging or addressing the blatant economic inequalities suffered as a result of economic segregation. We as a people should be willing to challenge and refuse to accept the bullshit.

Much like the crack baby myth, we're conditioned to think like Al Reynolds does about black men, and the black experience. And even more troubling, we buy into these narratives (mostly out of embarrassment) that comes from people who do not live within our communities.

Like, the onetime single black mother who had a child out of wedlock by a man who refused to marry her (for whatever the reason), who is now married to a non-minority with whom she has other children, who suddenly sees marriage as the answer, or "savior" of the black community when research shows otherwise.

An ex-single black mother who even though admitting that her daughter has a great relationship with her father, promotes the idea that black men don't give a damn about their kids A woman with whom I've had several conversations via phone and otherwise, who has a hard time explaining to me just how kids "suffer" by growing up in homes raised by single women; but yet, I'm supposed to accept this as fact.

Thank God there's research that shows otherwise; evidence that shows that even in poor communities, black men see their children more than commonly believed; but somehow, black men are only involved in the lives of their children if they marry the mother of their children; and then and only then, do black kids succeed in life.

I'm sorry, but that claim or narrative is as idiotic as what Al Reynolds says below. The idea that marriage is the predicating factor of successful child rearing and not socio-economic forces that negatively impact people of color, is enough to piss me off.  But it comes as no surprise, when this is coming from social conservatives.
"I've been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men," Reynolds said, when asked what he would do to increase diversity at state colleges. "And it's a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It's easier." (source)
Yes, Al Reynolds would be a great spokesperson for "No Wedding, No Womb!" Maybe then and only then with someone like him more effectively pushing the message that "black men ain't shit," the black community can and will improve as black women would make the conscious decision to marry white men the father(s) of their children instead of choosing to live a life destined to be an epic parenting failure.

But hey, don't tell anybody, research shows that biological fathers are not necessarily the best, or that a two parent home isn't necessarily a predictor of successful parenting. Instead, have them believe that black men are genetically predisposed to drug dealing and all sorts of "ill shit" as opposed to pursuing a higher education, or being fathers to their children even if not sharing the same roof with the mothers of their children.


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