Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knockout Game Underscores the Need to Repair the Broken Black Family in the United States
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

Everyone’s talking about it - in workplaces, homes, on social media and the news. Numerous videos are circulating online of the terrifying new game-- Knockout. These videos show young African American males randomly assaulting people. The object of the game is to knock a person out with just one punch.  People everywhere are angry about it, and terrified of it.

Discussions about Knockout range from suggestions that these young men were scarred by disadvantaged childhoods, to assertions that the common maternal Black American family structure lacks responsible male role-models. They even go are far to say these young men are dangers to society.
Many sociologists point to the complex and tragic history of the Black family in America; they conclude that it's broken, and that American society, in general, must play an active role in repairing it.

We’ve all heard the statistic of more than 50% of African American children grow up without a father in the home.  It’s also been drummed into us that this deficiency leads to a greater likelihood that fatherless boys will commit crimes, drop out of schools, and abuse drugs.  The constant and widespread repetition of this number has led to apathy on the part of the general public; a sense of weariness about a serious societal dilemma that is now so entrenched that society has turned a blind eye to it. 

Then along comes a game like “Knockout,” in which these troubled, fatherless young man, consumed by feelings of abandonment and anger, lash out, both within the Black community and at society overall.  It is then, and only then, when society feels at risk, that it finally addresses the issue of absent fathers in an often forgotten segment of society.  Imagine what it would be like if those young African American males had fathers in their lives.  The sense of abandonment wouldn’t be there, which might eliminate some of the anger.  Two parents in the home increase the chances for responsible parenting, and the outcome might be less aggressive young men and a safer society.
“A lot of our kids are hurting.  A lot of them are anxious.  When you don’t have the father figure there you feel like you have no value”, says Cynthia Grace, PHD, Director of Psychology at Harlem Hospital.

The “Knockout Game” is present-day proof that all of society must be onboard to promote fatherhood and healthy families.  That objective has begun, with President’s Obama 2010 Healthy Marriage & Responsible Fatherhood legislation, and with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Young Men’s Initiative, along with the surge in fatherhood organizations across the country.

Until all Americans see this as an American issue, and not solely an African American issue, there will be more frightening behavior from our young males and more unsettling times in America.

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