Friday, February 28, 2014

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Program has to Focus on Family Values
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
 “If we help these young men become better husbands and fathers they will not only become better citizens but pass this on to their children,” said President Obama during his speech yesterday about the newly enacted My Brother’s Keeper program.  This program will concentrate on young men of color, an extremely disenfranchised group in the United States.  Black and Hispanic men’s likelihood to commit crime, drop out of school, and abandon their families is largely attributed to growing up in fatherless homes as well as other oppressive factors.
In President Obama’s speech he referenced his own life growing up.  He spoke about being angry and abusing drugs to numb some of the pain he felt from not having his father present in his life.  Watching the president, an African American man, a member of this same group represent young men of color, really drives this message home.  It now creates an empathy factor among the non-black community that was obviously missing.  What President Obama’s status also represents is the possibility that with governmental intervention and parental responsibility, the majority of young men of color can have bright futures in a society that has clearly oppressed them.
In the documentary ON MY OWN, a young man, who is a member of the Ocean Baptist Church Youth Fellowship talked emotionally about his deep thought about what his life could have been if his father was around.  This displays that the My Brother’s Keeper program must continue to promote fatherhood aggressively.  Young men of color futures depend on it. This program should focus as much on family values as it will on education and jobs.  The program should also focus on educating young men of color on the history of the Black Family in the United States.  It will give them a better understanding of how many of their forefathers were negatively socialized in regards to their position in the nuclear family in the western world.  Maybe they’ll understand and abandon some of the anger they feel everyday wondering why in their community having a father is a rare experience.
The My Brother’s Keeper program should use the 200 million funding on more of a grassroots level.  This effort needs a street level approach to reach young men that are not in the educational system.   There are many young men that have already fallen through the cracks and can’t be enumerated. President Obama also rightfully stated, “that government cannot play the only role or even the primary role.”  The community must also step in and uplift these at risk youths.  This program is another great step in the movement to repair the family structure.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Co-Parenting: The Best Solution for Single Mothers
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
Marriages dissolve and relationships end.  Though the goal and message should always promote life- long partnerships, the reality is sometimes relationships don’t last. When there are children involved mothers and fathers must find a productive and respectful strategy to continue raising their children.  In most cases, children continue living with their mothers whether by consensual agreement from the parents or court ordered.  To ensure that children of these circumstances are raised morally, economically, and psychologically sound, their fathers must remain in their lives.
During the Bronx Fathers Taking Action Forum, in New York City, featured in the documentary ON MY OWN, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. posed a question.  He asked “why do fathers feel like they can’t be in a child’s life if they are no longer married or in a relationship with the child’s mother?”  He then ended by saying, “a father should be in a child’s life whether or not he’s in a marriage with the child’s mother.”  This has to be the mindset of fathers and mothers.
Most of society agrees that mothers should raise their children alongside the fathers. Research included in the 2011 National Fatherhood Initiative highlighted that 69% of Americans believe more single women having children without a male partner is bad for society.  The overwhelming opinion most likely derives from the drastically higher percentage of children raised in single parent,  mostly female-headed homes, compared to two-parent homes, likelihood to commit crimes and drop out of school.   Not to mention single mothers are more likely to fall into poverty.
Conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation provide a one solution cure all for single mothers which is marriage.   This solution doesn’t address if the parents are divorcing or ended relationships that never resulted in marriage.  Though marriage is a great solution for single mothers, co parenting with their children’s father(s) is a more realistic approach.  A great approach is for single mothers, at all times, to encourage their children’s father to be active in their lives.
In order to accomplish healthy co-parenting single mothers and fathers must continue to maintain respect and open communication with each other.  Issues that plagued the marriage/relationship shouldn’t prevent parents from jointly raising the child.   The objective must always be what’s best for the children.  Once that is established, the intrinsic details about visitation, child support, education, and faith based dynamics can take place successfully.   The end result is for children to have all the necessities and even luxuries at times, to grow up loved, complete, and well taken care of.  This will result in significant decreases in single motherhood.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Importance of Teaching our Children about Black History
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
James' Brown's song “I'm Black and I'm Proud”, released in 1968, became an anthem for black people during the Black Power Movement. As we usher in a new generation of young people, this same song should be a belief and innate feeling entrenched into African American children.

It has already been socially proven that individuals excel when they treasure and are proud of their culture and history.  African Americans have been deprived of learning about their history through the public educational system.  For the most part mainstream media has disseminated denigrating images about African Americans that has furthered false and insulting imagery of the group.  In all of this denigration, significant portions of African American & African history, has been lost.  And with this has been decades of lost self-esteem and pride that hasn’t been passed on our descendants.

In a country that is continually expanding with various ethnic groups it is pertinent for black parents to teach their children about their rich history. Many of our kids are lacking in the Black History department.  They learn the talking points about Dr. Martin Luther King JR. and Rosa Parks but few know about Paul Robeson or Stokely Carmichael. It's time for parents to step up and teach their children the fundamentals about who they are. It's imperative in providing them their purpose in the world.  It is all about parents doing the work-the educational resources are there.

"A people's relationship to their heritage is the same as the relationship of a child to its mother." -Dr. John Henrik Clarke

There are multiple reasons why black parents should be proactive with educating their children about their history but here are the top 5 reasons.

1. Black children will develop long lasting self-esteem derived from knowing they come from great ancestors.

2. African American children will know their importance among various racial and ethnic groups.

3. Teaching extensive Black History will equip our children to believe they can be innovators and investors.

4. Colorism could be totally eliminated from exposing black children to a various black figures of all complexions.

5. Black children can fend off historical inaccuracies.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Where is the Analysis on the Black Family during
Black History Month?
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw

Center for Disease Control

As we remember and closely analyze the plight and progress of African Americans during Black History Month we should take a closer look at the current condition of the black family.  The American black family, from its slavery inception to present day, is volatile and disturbing. Our community cannot expect any significant change if we do not address, on a grassroots level, the issues of the black family.   The ideology that “a weak family structure makes a weak community” still empirically proves to be very true.
The Black Family in the United States was born into an oppressive slave regime. Marriages weren’t honored and could be broken up with a snap of a finger if one of the partners were sold to another plantation owner.  The interesting ply is the fact that black families were more intact post slavery, including during the Reconstruction Era, up until the 1960s.  In the 1960s American politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan addressed the alarming increase in fatherless homes in a report titled “The Negro Family: A Case for Action”.  E Franklin Frazier’s classic work The Negro Family in the United States, that involved tracking familial movements of black families throughout the United States, also proved how complex stabilizing the black family would be because of class, region, and socioeconomic status.
To date, the Black Family in the United States has experienced several social setbacks including the outsourcing of factory jobs held by low skilled black male workers, a welfare system that banned black fathers from being in the home, and the crack/cocaine epidemic that flooded American inner cities.  Now in the 21st century, 8 out of 10 black babies in 2008 were born out of wedlock according to the U.S. Census Bureau.  The honest truth is that the Black Family in the U.S. has become matriarchal in structure. It’s gotten so bad that it is just accepted as the norm-a dangerous reality to not reverse. The children of fatherless homes that turn to crime at higher rates, drop out of school in higher numbers, and for the males, have a higher family abandonment rate, displays that repairing the Black Family should be the new civil rights movement for the Black community.
Promising initiatives have already begun including fatherhood movements, marriage programs and governments legislations all dedicated to this movement.  More of these initiatives need to be instituted by community activists.  Healthy family promotion should be promoted more by parents to instill in the younger generation the importance of both a mother and father in the home.  Constituents should also employ their local representatives to hold continuous forums to listen to the needs of families in their constituency-whether it be unemployment, mental health crisis and marital tensions.   It will also be the duty of our local elected officials to institute parenting classes to assist parents in teaching their children core family values.  Fathers, at a crossroads in their fatherly duties, should be embraced, supported and strengthened in order to rejoin their family.
As a community we have to also request that our hip-hop brothers and sisters promote the importance of stable homes in their music.  At the root of this conversation should always be the message that wealth usually comes from partnership and this is the way to build up our communities.   Our married elders must also lend a hand in advising and mentoring. 
There must be a continued effort to repair this communal issue.  It’s imperative to our future.  It’s productive during Black History Month to honor our civil rights leaders, inventors, and artists but we must also review real pending issues in our community and execute how to solve them.  So for future Black History Months we can look back at where the Black Family used to be and pride ourselves on how stabilized it’s become.