Another new twist to the Black Panther announcement read at ERHS.
Political Hack @ May 1, 2013
We need to take aggressive action to support the efforts of Senator Grassley and Representative Luetkemeyer. Please share this request with everyone on your email distribution list and members of your group. If you have a blog please post this request on your blog. FB, TWITTER…..make this request go viral. We need our Reps to know WE THE PEOPLE want to END COMMON CORE.
1. Call your Governor’s office and tell them you want Common Core repealed in your state.
2. Call you state Rep and Senator – tell them you want Common Core repealed in your state
3. Call Sen. Grassley and Rep. Luetkemeyer and THANK them for their brave efforts. And believe me this is a brave step for them to take.
Sen. Grassley 202-224-3744
Rep. Luetkemeyer 202-225-2956
4. Call your US Representative and your US Senators and ask for their position on signing Rep. Luetkemeyer and Senator Grassley’s letters. You want a position from them. If they have no position request they support the efforts of Rep. Luetkemeyer and Sen. Grassley. Let them know you will be following up to get their position in 1 week. Let the office know you will be calling back in 1 week to follow up and if they still have no position you will consider this a NON SUPPORT response and will be advising the people of the state on their NON SUPPORT. THEN SET YOURCALENDAR to remind yourself to call them back for their position. If after a week they have no position then consider that a NO.
I will be keeping a spreadsheet of feedback so please let me know what response you get. Include STATE, US REP NAME, US SENATORS NAMES and their position. If you have to follow up do not send me any information until after you follow up. It is my hope that in week I can have a list of US Reps. and US Senators and their position on supporting this effort.
This is not a fly by night request that will be forgotten the day after I send it out. We need to take this seriously and put a serious effort into making the calls and then doing the follow up. If we do not stop Common Core then really we just need to fold up our tents because our children in school now and our future children will become the lost generations and along with it any hope of restoring our great country.
Political Hack @ April 21, 2013
We reviewed the transit options, and as local residents, have serious concerns.
Our large subdivision of Powers Lake will be located just south of the planned bus station at Woodbury Dr. and Hudson Rd. The second location for centralized transit at Manning Ave, along the “Hudson Rd. alignment”, is another location that will impact us. Our family travels these roads frequently. We travel Woodbury Dr. every day and cross the intersection of Woodbury Dr. and Hudson Rd. multiple times per day.
Below are local concerns that we will share with our immediate neighbors and neighboring communities (HOAs); these bus stations will have a direct negative impact on our area’s living standards.
- Traffic Safety Both intersections have histories of serious accidents. We have witnessed them often, and their frequency is increasing. Police Officers (friends)have told us that these intersections are considered dangerous/deadly in Woodbury.
- Congestion Increased car and bus traffic will follow the new bus stations. The bus schedule will dictate when congestion is worse, but with cars and buses entering and leaving the park & ride lot, the intersection will be overcrowded. This will impact our ability to access HWY 94, Lake Elmo Park, communities north, and local businesses- grocery stores, gas stations, banks, eateries, etc.
- Pedestrian/Bike Safety Our family walks and bike rides Woodbury Dr. nearly every day during the warm months. The intersection at Woodbury Dr. & Hudson Rd. are already a nightmare to cross. The increased traffic, especially the large buses, will obstruct views and encourage
impatient drivers to take risks. Our son was almost hit last summer with current traffic. Add outside drivers who don’t know Woodbury, have no investment in Woodbury, and there is an increased risk of incidents.
- Road Repairs Increased traffic means increased damage to roads. Continuous road construction will follow the bus stations.
- Commute Given family needs, we are unable to use the bus/rail transit options, yet our commute time to work and activities will increase with the added concentrated congestion. Increase in time and inconvenience is not good for property value or quality of life.
- Traffic Patterns Local residents will start avoiding Woodbury Dr. and Hudson Rd. by using residential roads and parking lots to miss congestion (think Valley Creek bus routes). Speeding will increase and safety issues in neighborhoods may follow.
- Pollution More cars-more buses-more concentrated pollution. The emissions will be worse in our area with more cars and buses. The buses will be “visual” pollution—slow moving eyesores.
We live in Woodbury to escape these traffic issues. We also value the natural beauty of open space in Washington County and respect its local priorities. Outsiders push unwelcomed changes to Woodbury to serve special interest needs and offer no concern for local residents. I know this after participating on the County HRA Board and hearing plans for increased transient housing or multi-unit housing, all of which, encourages mass transit.
The transit plans are a self-fulfilling prophecy, they will increase traffic in this area through its invitation to outside commuters. We know; we have experienced this type of planning in Illinois where I served on traffic committees in both Naperville and Chicago. I also researched and fought similar initiatives as President of our Homeowners Association. These plans MUST consider the impact on Woodbury’s local residents first and foremost. Please address each of these concerns with your neighbors and taxpayers. Give us a pledge that these problems won’t follow the proposed transit options.
Paul and Marisa Novak
Woodbury, MN 55129
Political Hack @ March 22, 2013
At a local business meeting, many of the local candidates participated in a forum to answer questions about their candidacy and what their priorities would be if they were to be elected/re-elected. Many candidates, and primarily Democrats, focused on the following 3 topics:
- Health Care
The solutions to the problems in these areas could not be more different and they are right down party lines. It was even more stark when it came to growing the economy and creating jobs:
Democrats economic solutions:
- training programs for out-of-work individuals
- tax increment financing (to help businesses with property taxes)
- Educated workforce – providing a quality education to ensure workers can get good jobs
Republican economic solutions:
- Reduce barriers to entry for new start-ups
- Cutting taxes and regulations
- Regulation moritorium (2 years)
- Keeping property taxes low
- Cutting the state budget across the board
It was all too apparent that Democrats have no idea how the economy works. They do not seem to understand anything about business. They think that government is the economy. They do not make the connection that it is the private sector that funds the government and the non-profit world. If someone does not make a profit, none of the other things can exist.
Also, Democrats do not seem to understand, or do not care about the effort it takes to start, run, and grow a business. They never speak of entrepreneurship, risk-taking, markets, distribution, customers, vendors, employees, expansion, etc., all of the things involved in operating a business. They do not realize that they are the obstacles that prevent business from flourishing, thus jobs will not be created. Yet, they view business people with such disdain. As one talk-radio host put it some time ago: ‘liberals love employees, but hate employers’.
Democrats simply have no new ideas. It is all the same: health care, jobs, education. They want us to believe they are going to make these things better. Yet, over the years, they have been the party in power (aside from the Republican takeover in 2010), and they are the ones responsible for the problems we face. Let’s hope we can continue to keep Democrats away from the levers of power. If we do not, what we will continue to hear during the campaign seasons for the next 40 years is: health care, jobs, education ad nauseam. Nothing will change.
BrianM @ October 5, 2012
Posted in: National Issues | Comments Off
The current crisis in the Middle East seems made to order for the current crop of Democrats occupying our nations highest political offices. It leads me to believe that they truly live to exploit any crisis that arises for political gain. Talking tough and making stern demands as the Middle East burns are supposed to let the world know Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are the ones who will solve this problem along with the hope of scoring political points. Yet it is they who have helped facilitate the problem to begin with by their apologies and appeasement toward the Middle East which views those things as weakness. So, they create problems and tell us they are the ones to fix things. Can you name a problem fixed by Democrats that they created? Perhaps they have no intention of ever fixing anything. Simply create problems then appear on the scene as the ones to rectify the situation.
There have been many recent tragedies/crisis that Democrats have tried to make political hay out of to score points. Here is a short list:
- Gabby Gifford’s shooting
- Fort Hood shooting
- Colorado shooting
Each of these events were exploited by Democrats to further a political objective like gun control or to blame their political opponents for the event.
But one of the more agregious examples of exploiting a tragedy for political gain was the Paul Wellstone memorial in 2002. I think it is important to remember these events to keep in mind the people who make up the Democrat party. Even in death, they could not help themselves in politicizing it. Here is a link to the Wellstone memorial.
BrianM @ September 14, 2012
Posted in: State Government | Comments Off
Political Hack @ August 31, 2012
THE EFFECTS OF FATHERLESSNESS ON THE BEHAVIOR AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF THE ADOLESCENT AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE
Posted in: National Issues | Comments Off
THE EFFECTS OF FATHERLESSNESS ON THE BEHAVIOR AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF THE ADOLESCENT AFRICAN AMERICAN MALE
A MASTERS PROJECT
SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY
DAVID C. SCHUMACHER
IN PARATIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS
FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF EDUCATION
The Effects of Fatherlessness on the Behavior and Academic
Achievement of the Adolescent African American Male
David C. Schumacher
Approved: Steven Kaatz, Ph.D. Thesis Advisor
_______________________ Thesis Advisor’s Signature
The majority of African American children now live in fatherless homes. This represents a dramatic change in the structure of the African American family over the last 50 years. Fatherless black adolescent males are much more likely to live in poverty, drop out of school, and become involved in violent crimes than those who live in a two-parent household. There are questions concerning why the increase in fatherlessness occurred, and whether fatherlessness itself can be blamed for the problems associated with young black males who grow up in such a family structure. This paper will examine the competing socioeconomic and cultural theories concerning the causes and effects of fatherlessness on the adolescent African American male, and review the most recent strategies to deal with this dilemma.
Table of Contents
Signature Page……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Table of Contents…………………………………………………………………………………………… 4
Chapter I: Introduction…………………………………………………………………………………… 6
Problem Statement…………………………………………………………………………….. 12
Importance of Study………………………………………………………………………….. 13
Definition of Terms……………………………………………………………………………. 13
Chapter II: Literature Review………………………………………………………………………… 15
History of African American Family Structure 1855-1960………………………. 16
Reasons for Fatherlessness………………………………………………………………….. 23
Divorce and Separation……………………………………………………………. 23
Un-wed Births………………………………………………………………………… 25
Incarcerated Fathers………………………………………………………………… 27
Why they don’t Marry………………………………………………………………………… 28
Feminism and Divided Loyalties……………………………………………….. 32
A Good Man is hard to Find…………………………………………………….. 34
The Consequences of Fatherlessness…………………………………………………….. 37
Academic Underachievement……………………………………………………. 41
A Change in Culture…………………………………………………………………………… 42
Black Conservatives…………………………………………………………………………… 49
Boys Raised by Artificial Memes…………………………………………………………. 55
Rites of Passage………………………………………………………………………. 56
Role Models and Mentors………………………………………………………… 59
The Fatherhood Movement…………………………………………………………………. 61
Fragile Families……………………………………………………………………….. 62
Father’s Rights Groups…………………………………………………………….. 63
Fatherhood and Politics……………………………………………………………. 64
Chapter III: Discussion and Conclusion………………………………………………………….. 72
Summary of Literature……………………………………………………………………….. 72
Limitations of Research………………………………………………………………………. 74
Implications for Future Research…………………………………………………………. 75
Implications for Professional Application……………………………………………… 76
List of Tables……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 88
Four of us decided to go to the funeral. When we got there, we found a note on the church door explaining that Jermain’s (pseudonym) funeral had been canceled due to threats of possible gang violence. The police advised against holding the service and the pastor of the church did not want to subject his congregation to this kind of notoriety. Jermain had been shot and killed on a local bus, apparently by a rival gang member. Both Jermain and his accused killer were former students of ours.
Circling around the block to get back to the freeway we passed a funeral home. A throng of African American teenagers were crowding into the building and spilling out into the sidewalk. Many of them were wearing the “R.I.P.” memorial tee-shirts now ubiquitous at gang funerals. The oversized shirts have a pre-printed poem on them memorializing the deceased. The middle of the shirt has a section left blank in order to airbrush the “street-name” of the deceased. We recognized Jermain’s street-name emblazoned on the shirts.
It appeared to us that they decided to stage an impromptu second visitation after being denied a funeral service. After a short conversation about the safety of the situation, and after noting the four police squads already surrounding the funeral home, we decided to go in and offer our respects.
Upon entering the home we felt a bit anxious. We couldn’t help but suspect that this was an unsanctioned visitation. There were no adults or representatives of the funeral home in sight. The closest figure of authority was one young male, maybe 20-years-old, in a stark white zoot suit, standing motionless in the rear of the chapel, ostensibly guarding the casket. We met other former students who appeared solemn. They greeted us with respect.
As the line slowly made its way up to the open casket, we noticed a heap of money, five’s, ten’s and twenty’s, all piled on Jermain’s chest. We thought it might be just an odd way of donating to the funeral expenses. We later found out that the money in the casket was not to defray the cost of the funeral. The cash was placed in the casket as a symbol of “respect” to honor Jermain’s lifestyle, which largely consisted of a relentless allegiance to the procurement of money.
As we were leaving, we noticed two women sitting in a car directly in front of ours. They were clearly observing us. As we approached our car, one of the women poked her head out the window and said politely, but suspiciously, “Who are you guys? Did you know Jermain?” We explained that we were his teachers and that we knew both of the boys involved. She immediately thanked us for working with the boys and acknowledged how hard it must be to teach these boys because they always seem to be in trouble.
The woman’s son was attending the visitation. While she waited for her son, she proceeded to tell us about how fearful she is in her own neighborhood. It was obvious she was frustrated and needed to complain to somebody. She related how little respect there seems to be now and how the boys refuse to go to church or school and about how the boys all seemed to have guns. As she finished her disturbing but civil rant, she stopped, calmly looked at us and asked, “Do you know what the problem is around here?” She immediately answered her own question, “These boys’ dads are nowhere to be found!”
In our judgment, she couldn’t be more correct in her observations. When it comes to the boys we deal with at our school, it is the exception that they live in a family situation that includes a married mother and father. The trend towards fatherlessness and the effects of this situation seem obvious to us who work in an inner-city school environment, but what do the statistics say?
According to recent literature:
- Nearly 17.7 million, or 39% of school age children in grades 1 through 12, do not live with their biological father (Nord & West, 2001).
- For children over the age of pre-school, only 27% see their non-resident fathers at least once a week (King, 1999).
- Of the children who live with their mothers and a non-resident father, 25% see their fathers less than once a month. 35% of these children never see their fathers at all (Seltzer & Bianchi, 1988).
- Forty percent of children with non-resident fathers have not seen their fathers in at least a year (Furstenberg & Nord, 1985).
But does it really matter if the dads aren’t around? Authors Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach (1999) ofYeshivaUniversitydon’t seem to think so. In fact they claim that, “Taken as a whole, the empirical research does not support the idea that fathers make a unique and essential contribution to child development” (p. 403). They don’t see any particular advantage of a standard mother-father parenting style. They attempt to make the case that “neither mothers nor fathers are essential to child development, and that responsible fathering can occur within a variety of family structures” (p. 1).
The argument that “responsible fathering can occur” in a non-conventional family does not seem to be in dispute. No one will deny that many single-mothers have worked hard and raised good, hard working children. Nor have any reputable researchers tried to make the case that all conventional families are stable, nurturing environments for children. On the other hand, the plight of children who live in a home without a father is disturbing and cannot be ignored:
- Nearly 47% of single-mother and 22% of father-only families live below the poverty level, whereas only about 10% of mother-father families fall below this line (Bianchi, 1995).
- Sixty-eight percent of children in non-married homes have experienced at least one year of poverty by age six versus only 12% in married households (Hirschl & Rank, 1999).
- A male youth is 11 times more likely to become a chronic offender if born to an unwed mother below the age of 18 compared to a married mother over the age of 20 (Conseur, Rivara, Barnoski, & Emanuel, 1997).
- Children who grow up in a single-parent household for at least some period of their childhood are nearly “twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to have a child before age twenty, and one and a half times as likely to be ‘idle’—out of school and out of work—in their early teen and early twenties” as those living with both parents (McLanahan & Sandefur, 1994).
- “Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers, which includes 60% of American rapists, 72% of adolescent murderers, and 70% of juveniles in state reform institutions” (Brenner, 1998, p. 2).
While these statistics paint a very unsettling picture of how children, in general, are affected when the father is left out of the equation, the numbers are much worse when the focus is narrowed to the African American community, and on young black males in particular. This is to say that, on average, young black males live in poverty, drop out of high school, get into trouble with the law, and live without a father in the home at a much higher rate than their peers.
It is not news that the breakdown of the African American family has been an issue for years. As far back as 1965, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1965), then the Assistant Secretary of Labor, in his famous report, The Negro Family: The Case for National Action, warned that a wave of illegitimate births, resulting in fatherless households, was weakening the African American community. His notice was perceived as unfairly singling out the African American community and as being unduly critical of single mothers trying hard to raise their children alone. Whether deserved or not, this perception only served to foment a backlash of accusations and counterclaims. Moynihan and those who spoke of the alarming illegitimacy rates and its deleterious effects in the black community were often branded as racists (Koch, 2000). James Berger (1996) made a very similar observation in his critique of Toni Morrison’s book Beloved. He stated that after the Moynihan Report “discussion of race became less open, giving way to evasions and euphemisms” (p. 408).
Though unfortunate, it is not difficult to see how Mr. Moynihan’s presentation of the data could easily devolve into a “blame game.” His report came out in the mid 60’s, a period whenAmericawas embroiled in a bitter and sometimes violent civil rights movement. The mood of the black community was becoming more acrimonious. A new brand of radical, uncompromising civil rights movement known as “Black Power” was on the rise (McWhorter, 2006). At the same time the women’s rights movement was beginning with its own branch of radical feminism which could only be interpreted as anti-male in nature.
Moynihan’s (1965) report was exploited by civil rights advocates and feminists alike to demonstrate the existence of the racist and sexist views in the government. In his report, Moynihan warned that mere financial assistance from the government for fatherless households would have minimal and temporary effects; and that for long-term success, government programs should be aimed at revitalizing the black family. This was perceived by black activists as a not too subtle justification to cut social welfare programs for black families (Berger & Simon, 1974). At the same time feminists began their attempt to dispel the notion, inferred from Moynihan’s report, that women could not successfully raise a family without the help of a man. Christina Hoff Sommers (1994), in her book Who Stole Feminism, used the term “Gender Feminists” to refer to feminists who take the position that, other than anatomy, there are no real differences between men and women, therefore making men superfluous.
It is the proposition of this paper that years of father absence in the African American home has had a significant and damaging effect on the family, and that these effects are most pronounced with the young black male. These effects are often demonstrated by poor behavior and, in turn, inadequate education. Decades of the politicization of race and gender issues, both by well meaning as well as self interested parties, brought about tragic, if unintended, consequences. This paper reviews the current literature concerning the effects of fatherlessness with emphasis on the young black male. It explores both the causes and consequences of fatherlessness.
Father absence and its socioeconomic implications have been blamed for the low quality of schooling, especially in inner-city neighborhoods. An abundance of research is available concerning conventional “solutions” such as increased school funding, segregation, and teacher quality. This paper will not reexamine these areas. While there have been some new and even radical strategies with interesting and initially promising results, such as all male schools or even all African American male schools that sound promising (Glazer, 1999; Thernstrom & Thernstrom, 2004), even these promising strategies seek to mend or at minimum manage the damage that has already occurred. This paper proposes to seek solutions to the causes of fatherlessness rather than deal with its inevitable consequences.
Importance of Study
Over the past 30 years a distinct pattern of overrepresentation of African American students in special education classrooms for mental retardation, specific learning disabilities, behavior disorders, and physical impairments has emerged (Watkins & Kurtz, 2001). Young black males are also more likely to be suspended or expelled from school and lag significantly behind their white peers in both grade point average and on standardized tests (Noguera, 2003). As the problem has been apparent for years, it seems evident the schools and families must act together to solve the problem. If not acted upon immediately, even more young men will be lost to poor education, crime, and poverty.
For years well-meaning individuals from local school districts to the federal government instituted various programs and solutions to deal with the effects of fatherlessness, such as poverty, crime, and poor schooling—yet the problems persist. Educators, school administrators, and government officials must gain better insight into the dynamics of the African American family and its culture and attitudes. It is feared that many of the programs designed to help some of these fatherless families had precisely the opposite effect intended. If officials understand the actual effects of their actions, it is hoped that better and more effective strategies can be developed to truly promote stronger and more successful families.
Definition of Terms
Fatherless: In the context of this paper, fatherless will refer to the state of living in a home with no father present. No distinction is made concerning the reason for father absence. It is understood by the author that studies exist which attempt to link certain behavioral characteristics to the reason for father absence such as death, divorce, or abandonment. However, this paper will use a broader definition (Blankenhorn, 1996).
Meme: An element of cultural information that is transmitted orally or by example from one group or individual to another (McWhorter, 2006).
Adolescent: For the purpose of this paper, adolescent will include young men approximately 13 to 19 years of age.
For the first half of the 20th century, it was widely accepted by sociologists that the long history of slavery was to blame for the prevalence of weak marriages, matrifocality, and a lack of authority by fathers in the black community (Agresti, 1978; Ruggles, 1994). “This interpretation culminated with Moynihan’s (1965) report, which concluded that the ‘pathological’ nature of black communities could be traced to the deterioration of black family life” (Ruggles, 1994, p. 136).
Moynihan’s (1965) report created a firestorm and invited criticism because many interpreted his analysis as “blaming the victim.” In addition, his use of the phrase “tangle of pathology” to describe the behavior of one particular race could not help but act as a lighting rod for criticism. In the end, though, his report stimulated many other studies and papers on the subject. These studies tend to fall into one of two separate camps. One believes that Moynihan actually got it “backwards.” It is was not the fault of the black family structure which caused the explosion of illegitimacy in the black community—it was actually discrimination and lack of opportunity that created the conditions which broke-up the African American family. The other camp questioned his view of the history of the black family and the premise that the ravages of slavery were to blame for the formation of a weak family structure (Morgan, McDaniel, Miller & Preston, 1993; Ruggles, 1994).
To find the “proper view” of history, researchers looked at the record of the African American family going back to the time of American chattel slavery. They attempted to reconstruct, from often less than totally reliable sources, a portrait of the black family and how and why it may have changed over time.
History of African American Family Structure 1855-1960
Herbert Gutman (1975), professor of History at City College of New York, stated that, “Much has been written about the history of the Afro-American family, but little, in fact, is really known about its composition and household at given historical moments, and even less is known about how and why it changed over time” (p. 182). He suggests that the conventional wisdom of these historians and sociologists was based on little empirical data and was centered on misinformation, if not myth. In his article, Persistent Myths about the Afro-American Family, Gutman (1975) quoted sociologist Philip Hauser:
Family disorganization and unstable family life among Negro Americans is a product of their history and caste status in theUnited States. During slavery and for at least the first half century after emancipation, the Negro never had the opportunity to acquire the patterns of sexual behavior and family living which characterize middle-class white society. African family patterns were, of course, destroyed during slavery, when it was virtually impossible to establish any durable form of family organization. This historical tendency toward a matrifocal family structure has been reinforced by the continued inability of the Negro male, because of lack of opportunity and discriminatory practices, to assume the role of provider and protector of his family in accordance with prevailing definitions of the role of husband and father. The Negro male has, in a sense, been the victim of social and economic emasculation which has perpetuated and reinforced the matriarchal Negro family structure created by slavery. (p. 183)
This summed up the generally accepted view of history as recently as the mid 1960s. Unconvinced of this interpretation, Gutman (1975) attempted to find out what the black family looked like during the period as close as possible to the time of chattel slavery. This proved to be difficult because, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, inconsistencies in data collection procedures made it difficult to use census data information with complete confidence (Morgan et al., 1993). The definition of “family” has apparently not been consistent through the years. In fact, prior to 1982, children who lived with their mother, but not in a home headed by the mother, as in an extended family arrangement, were classified as “not living with parent”, obviously skewing the data (Elwood & Crane, 1990).
Gutman (1975) pieced together data from a wide variety of sources. He included manuscript census data from state, federal, and Freedman’s Bureau sources. He also scoured marriage and property records and collected data from a number of representative rural and urban locations for the years 1855 through 1870. His final report cited findings from 14 different northern and southern black communities. Here he found a consistent pattern of family structure and determined that, “no fewer than 70 percent and as many as 90 percent of the households contained a husband and wife or just a father” (Gutman, 1975, p. 195). He argued that the common view of a matriarchal family structure coming out of the slavery period is mistaken, and that most post Civil War African American families “lived in double-headed households, and so did most post rural and urban freedmen and women. Female-headed households were common but not typical” (Gutman, 1975, p. 193).
In a separate study, Barbara Agresti (1978) conducted research on African American families inWalton County,Florida. She chose this setting because the family patterns in this area closely aligned with the Southern agrarian lifestyle of the previous decades of slavery, and would therefore give a good indication of the family structure prior to the Northern migration. It was assumed that a data sample from a single county was small enough to virtually assure a consistent collection procedure but large enough to give a good indication of structural household trends.
By examining data from the 1870 census forWalton County,Florida, the most recent census taken after emancipation, Agresti (1978) found that only 57.8% of black children were living with both parents. This compared to 81.2% for white children. In addition, it was twice as likely for a black child, as compared to a white child, to be living with only one parent, most likely the mother, and over three times as likely to be living with neither parent. So while the majority of black children were living in a two-parent household, a considerable percentage, more than 40%, lived with a single parent or neither parent.
On its face, this data gives credence to the theory that, indeed, there were significant differences in the ways black and white families were structured. It is only reasonable to suspect that slavery must have had an effect. Soon after this time period some significant changes became apparent.
Agresti (1978) found that, in 1885, in this same county over 89% of black children were now living with both parents, an astounding increase compared to only 15 years earlier. In less than one generation, the rate at which black children were living with both parents actually exceeded that of whites. At the same time, there was a nearly four-fold decrease in the rate of black children who lived with neither or only one parent. It seems unlikely that if the female-dominant household was normative, it would have undergone such a great transformation in such a short period of time.
Living Arrangement of Children in Walton County, 1870
Note: Adapted from “The First Decades of Freedom: Black families in
a Southern County, 1870 and 1885,” by B.F. Agresti, 1978, Journal
of Marriage and the Family, 40(4), p. 702.
Agresti (1978) also points out that during this period of transformation, the economy and race relations between whites and blacks were actually getting worse. At a time when the black family was experiencing some of the worst effects of post war acculturation, it appears that there is no significant difference in the structural make up of black and white families (see Table 2).
Living Arrangement of Children in Walton County, 1885
Note: Adapted from “The First Decades of Freedom: Black families in
a Southern County, 1870 and 1885,” by B.F. Agresti, 1978, Journal of
Marriage and the Family, 40(4), p. 704.
In 1994, researcher Steve Ruggles (1994) at theUniversityofMinnesota, claimed to have a way to “generate for the first time a consistent national series of statistics on family structure over the past century” (p. 137). It was called the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). IPUMS combined national census data from a variety of sources. The inconsistent and outdated coding schemes, sample units, and sampling strategies of past census data were now standardized. This made it possible to recode the information, make it machine readable, and produce a reliable data set. Ruggles used this new standardized data to try and determine a long-term pattern of structural family change.
Ruggles’ (1994) findings revealed very little change in the family structure between the years 1880 and 1960. Both African American and white families showed a strong preference for a two-parent family structure. While black households were nearly twice as likely to be headed by a single mother as white households, at a rate of 13%, it does not give support to the theory that a female-dominant household was the norm coming out of the post slavery period.
Children 0-14 years
Note: Adapted from “The Origins of African-American Family Structure,” by S. Ruggles, 1994, American
Sociological Review, 59(1), p. 140.
In his conclusion, Ruggles (1994) notes that there is evidence of a dramatic increase in the occurrence of mother only households. He focuses on the history between 1880 and 1960 when nearly 3 out of 10 black children lived with only one parent or no parent at all (see Table 3). From this he judges that while the changes in family structure in the latter part of the 20th century are striking, the single-parent African American family is nothing new.
Children 0-14 years
Note: Adapted from “The Origins of African-American Family Structure,” by S. Ruggles, 1994, American
Sociological Review, 59(1), p. 140.
Ruggles (1994) is quick to point out that the dramatic increase in mother-only households was not limited to black families (see Table 4). Interestingly he notes that, measured as a percentage, the rate of growth in mother-only household is actually higher for white families than for black, and that changes in the black family appear very dramatic because the rate of growth is based on the previous level of mother-only households, which was already much higher for blacks. This reasoning suggests a kind of geometric progression in the dramatic increase in mother-only households, and that the growth may be a function of existing mother-only households. In other words, one could infer that mother-only households beget other mother-only households. This view, however, does not explain why there was such a long period of relative stability in the illegitimate birth rate for blacks for the nearly three quarters of a century prior to the 1960s.
While the studies by Gutman (1975), Agresti (1978), and Ruggles (1994) may have slightly different conclusions, none of them decisively point to the effects of slavery for an almost total breakdown of the African American family structure in the latter part of the 20th century. There are doubtless many detrimental effects attributable to slavery that deeply influence African American family structure, but it seems evident that there are other, more current forces at work, both cultural and economic, that must be at work.
One thing is clear, since the 1960s more and more children are being born and raised without fathers in the home. And while the growth in illegitimacy is not limited to the black community, it has become the norm among blacks and it is seriously affecting the lives of a majority of young African American males. The following section explores the reasons and rationale for this trend of fatherlessness.
Reasons for Fatherlessness
Divorce and Separation
There is no doubt that the number of divorces increased over the years for both blacks and whites. Just after the Civil War, a mere 5% of marriages ended in divorce. In 1964 that percentage rose to 36%. For some time, theUnited Stateshas seen a rise in the rates of divorce and cohabitation and a decline in the rate of marriage. Divorces more than doubled, from 10.6 per thousand in 1965 to 22.8 per thousand in 1979 (Furstenberg, 1994). Between the years 1970 and 1996, marriages declined from 77 per thousand to less than 50, a 35% decrease. While these numbers are disheartening for theUnited Statesas a whole, they are even worse for African American women. Current studies estimate that 47% of African American women will separate or divorce their husbands within 15 years of marriage compared to 17% of white women. In the first five years of marriage, 1 in 5 African American marriages will dissolve, and after 25 years of marriage the odds are that 7 of every 10 African American marriages will end in divorce or separation, more than double the probability for a white marriage (Kposowa, 1998).
Black women are also less likely to obtain a legal divorce after a separation (Cherlin, 1998). After three years of separation, only 55% of black women obtained a legal divorce, compared to 91% of white women. Black women are also less like to remarry after a divorce or separation. After 10 years of separation, only 32% of black women remarried compared to 72% of white women. Because of this, African Americans spend less time being married than do whites. It is estimated that in the late 1940s, Black women spent nearly 40% of their lifetime married; figures from the late 1970s show that figure declined to only 22% (Cherlin, 1998).
There is no clear answer as to why divorce and separation is so prominent in the black community; however, economics may hold a key. In general, the more educated a woman, the more likely she is to become divorced. This is true at all levels of education except—ironically—for those women who do not graduate from high school, in which case they are less likely to be divorced.
Education gives a woman more independence and power, especially in the labor force. With the ability to make a living without a husband, she may be more likely to end an unsatisfactory marriage. The dynamics in the black community appear to be set for the fatherless home scenario to play out (Kposowa, 1998). African American women historically have been better educated, obtained higher occupational status, and earned more money than their male counterparts. In a situation where the wife makes more money than the husband, the husband may feel emasculated and become resentful of his wife. In addition, the wife may feel resentment towards her husband because he can’t fulfill the role of provider (Kposowa, 1998). Steven Ruggles (1997) found that black female participation in the workforce had a “consistent powerful effect on predicted divorce and separation” (p. 463).
By far the greatest cause of fatherless children is out-of-wedlock births. In 1960, the total percentage of unmarried births was only 5.3%, or one out of every 19 children born (Ventura & Bachrach, 2000). In 2000, that percentage skyrocketed to 33.2%, or one out of every three children. As bleak as these numbers look, the situation in the black community is much worse. In that same year, more than two of every three black children (68.5%) were born to unmarried parents as compared to 27.1% for white children (Martin, Hamilton,Ventura, Menacker, & Park, 2002). To put some perspective on these numbers, in 1963 Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1965) was concerned about a “pathology” developing when the illegitimacy rate for blacks was 23.6% and the rate for whites was 3.07%. Blacks historically have experienced a higher percentage of out-of –wedlock births than whites. In 1940, blacks had a 16.8% out-of-wedlock birth rate; this was over eight times the rate in the white community (2.0%). Since then, the out-of-wedlock rate has increased four-fold for black, but over thirteen-fold for whites (Martin et al., 2002; Ventura & Bachrach, 2000).
Marriage in the black community has become less relevant, if not completely unrelated, to child bearing. Between 1990 and 1994 more than three of every four children (76.9%) of first born African Americans were born out-of-wedlock. In that same time period, only 14.4% of first born blacks were actually conceived after marriage. In the white community, the majority (54.6%) of first-born children are still conceived within marriage, however white out-of –wedlock conceptions and births are increasing at a faster rate than in the black community (Bachu, 1999).
As much as half of the rise in out-of –wedlock births can be attributed to the decline in post-conception marriages or “shotgun” marriages (Akerlof, Yellen, & Katz, 1996). Today there is little, if any, stigma attributed to becoming pregnant before marriage and less need to “have” to get married. Shotgun marriages may happen even less in the Black community because ties to kin tend to be stronger than marital ties. If an unwed black mother is in need, she is more likely to seek and receive help from aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews than the unwed white mother (Cherlin, 1998).
In 1999, there were over 1,372,700 minor children in theUnited Stateswith a father in jail; this was an increase of 58% over 1991 (Mumola, 2000). Between 1972 and 2000, the population of theU.S.penal system increased six-fold. Over 90% of these prisoners are male, and black males are nearly eight times more likely to be imprisoned than whites. By 2002 nearly 12% of black males in their 20s were imprisoned (Pettit & Western, 2004). Many of these young black men have young children. In state prisons, 49% of black inmates are parents, compared to 29% of white inmates. In federal prison, 44% of black inmates are parents, compared to 22% for white inmates (Mumola, 2000).
According to a recent study commissioned by the Office of Planning and Development inHennepin County,Minnesotahas the dubious distinction of having the greatest black-to-white disparity of men in jail. In 1997 the ratio of blacks to whites sentenced to state prison was over 25 to 1. In 1999, the arrest rate for violent offenses by whites was 76 per 100,000 while for blacks it was 1,621 per 100,000, translating to an arrest rate of nearly 21 times the rate for whites. In 2000, African Americans accounted for 37.2% of the state’s prisoners but were only 3.5% of the state’s population (Hennepin County,Minnesota, Office of Planning & Development, January, 2000).
Over his lifetime, more than one in four black males (28.5%) can expect to spend time in prison. This compares to only 4.4% for white males (Bonczar & Beck, 1997). A child of an offender is six times more likely to go to prison than children of non-offenders (Brenner, 1998), which perpetuates the cycle. “The typical male inmate grew up in a single parent home and has at least one family member who has been incarcerated” (Brenner, p. 2).
The threat of going to prison no longer frightens or intimidates the way it once did. Spending time in jail is now seen as an acceptable, if not an expected, part of growing up for many black males. Incarceration rates have become so high for young black males that many researchers have come to conclude that “prison time had become a normal part of early adulthood for black men in poor urban neighborhoods” (Pettit & Western, 2004, p.151).
Yet it is not merely the prison bars keeping the fathers from their children. Indeed, most incarcerated fathers are not married to the mothers of their children and were not living with their children at the time of their arrest (Brenner, 1998; Mumola, 2000). Prison bars can keep child and parent apart for awhile, but when the mother and father don’t marry, the absence of a father can last a lifetime
Why they don’t marry
The previous section investigated the major reasons fathers are not in the home. This section looks specifically at the distinctive barriers to marriage in the black community.
Title IV-A of the Social Security Act for Aid to Dependent Children (ADC) was instituted to primarily aid widows with children so they could stay home with their children. It was presumed that a mother with children and no father to help was more valuable to society by staying home and raising her children than by leaving the home and going to work. As so often happens with federal programs, these benefits quickly expanded. They soon included divorced women, unwed mothers, and women who were deserted by their husbands (Horn & Bush, 2003). Soon a disparity developed between the government benefits a mother could receive through ADC and what an unemployed father could receive in unemployment benefits. This created a situation where it was actually financially more attractive for the father to desert his family than to stay with them (Horn & Bush, 2003).
It is difficult to determine how many fatherless homes were shaped through this government policy, but it has been suspected as a major culprit for some time. Winegarden and Bracy (1997) asked this very question in their analysis of the effect of welfare, and especially Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), on illegitimacy rates. They thought there should be a positive correlation between the amount of welfare benefits available and the number of children born to unwed mothers. They focused their study on a 20-year period between 1972 and 1992 and uncovered some interesting, and even surprising, findings.
As Winegarden and Bracy (1997) suspected, they found “strong evidence that the AFCD program has contributed significantly to the recent upsurge in U.S.illegitimacy” (p. 177). They also determined that there was a strong correlation between the incidence of childbearing and the real value (constant purchasing power unaffected by inflation) of welfare benefits. They found that, indeed, there was a positive correlation, and it was evident in the behaviors of both black and white women.
Interestingly, their results found marked differences between white and black women when it came to welfare benefits and marriage. For black women, the amount of benefit received made little difference in the choice to get married, but for white women it did. For white women, the more benefit they received from the government, the more likely it was that they remained single. Alternatively, if the real value of the benefit was reduced, she was more likely to enter into marriage. This research does not attempt to answer why this disparity occurs, but it does suggest that black women are either more willing or able to endure more hardship before they look to marriage for at least economic support.
In similar studies, both Saul Hoffman and Michael Foster (2000), and Steven Caudill andFranklinMixon, Jr. (2000) found a strong correlation between real AFDC payments and the probability of a non-marital birth. This correlation was especially strong when the birth mother was black and in her early 20s. This conclusion was somewhat at odds with previous studies that focused almost exclusively on teen births, suggesting the possibility that slightly older mothers may be more “sophisticated” in their decision to have a child out of wedlock, possibly by having better knowledge of the federal and state benefits to which they may be entitled.
Wade Horn and Andrew Bush (2003), writing for the Hudson Institute, cite a study by M. Anne Hill and June O’Neill who found that even after controlling for income, parental education, and socioeconomic status, a 50% increase in AFDC and food stamp payments would increase the number of out-of-wedlock births by 43%. Regardless of the original intentions of welfare for single mothers, the clear effect has been to increase the level of fatherlessness. In fact, nearly 90% of all families currently receiving welfare payments do not have a father in the home (Horn & Bush, 2003). These studies give credence to the theory that welfare helped to enable young black women to have babies without a father, but it does not answer the question as to why these women would “choose” this kind of lifestyle.
The history of welfare inAmericaincluded its muckrakers too. In 1966, the Mobilization for Youth program was set up to encourage poor people to sign up for welfare under the assumption that many eligible families did not apply because of lack of information. However, many blacks who were eligible to receive welfare benefits refused to apply for moral reasons. They perceived receiving money that they did not earn as a handout, which they viewed as undignified. The Mobilization for Youth workers were trained to tap the eligible applicants’ latent feelings of victimization in order to get them to sign up. The purpose was to change the way people saw earning a living, from something they earned, to something they are owed (McWhorter, 2006, p. 119).
The National Welfare Rights Organization, led by former chemist George Wiley and a group of social work professors fromColumbiaUniversity, was more calculated in their tactics. They tried to get as many people on AFDC in order to bankrupt the government and force an implementation of a new system of income distribution. They often staged hundreds of protests a month, at times with the assistance of the Black Panthers (McWhorter, 2006).
Feminism and Divided Loyalties
While the welfare system was making it financially possible to survive without the income of the father, greater rights and new opportunities ironically pulled harder at the tear in the fabric of the black family structure. The Civil Rights and Feminist movements of the 60s and 70s were a time of great change forAmerica. African Americans of both sexes, and women of any race, were demanding and receiving rights they had been denied for years. While the demand for equal rights was perfectly justified, there were also some unintended consequences. Black women were put in a situation of divided loyalties. African American women were just as supportive as African American men when it came to the aims of the Civil Rights movement. There was little argument when it came to putting an end to inequality, injustice, and discrimination. However, women also supported the new ideas and possibilities offered by the feminist movement which pushed for equal opportunity for women in the workplace and for a more egalitarian system of gender roles (Hunter & Sellers, 1998).
In studying responses of 2,107 black American adults in the National Survey of Black Americans (NSBA), Hunter and Sellers (1998) found that most black women held a stronger allegiance toward their race than their gender. They also found that the more successful a black woman was in the labor force, the more positively she would be associated with feminist views.
A survey conducted by Anthony E. O. King (1999) of black women in varying socioeconomic situations gave some insight to the attitudes of black women and marriage. In general, higher income, better educated, and married respondents had the most optimistic views of marriage. However, never-married respondents felt that a successful career was actually more important to them than a successful marriage. In this survey, age appears to be a significant factor affecting the attitudes of marriage. In general, the younger the respondent, the more negative their attitude was regarding marriage. King (1999) felt that these divergent attitudes most likely occurred because the “older respondents were far more likely to have personally observed adult men and women engaging in marital relationships than their younger counterparts, and therefore, they learned first hand about the potential advantages and disadvantages of marriage” (p. 432).
Pursuing a career tends to put off a working woman’s search for a mate and her decision to get married. The longer a woman postpones her decision to marry, the greater the possibility she will be unsuccessful in finding a suitable mate. This is especially problematic for black women because of black men’s shorter life expectancy and higher premature death rates. In addition, the longer she waits, the greater the chance that the eligible men her age are already married (King, 1999).
The feminist movement has been successful in opening doors to more opportunities for women, especially in the area of employment. More and better paying jobs have allowed women to become more independent and less reliant on family or a husband. Researchers “often cite the growth in women’s employment as a primary reason for the declining marriage rate among disadvantaged Americans” (Edin & Reed, 2005, p. 127). Indeed, Ruggles (1997) found this to be the case. In his study on the rise of divorce and separation in theUnited States, he found that “the powerful century-long association between female market-labor participation and marital dissolution is entirely consistent with the dominant interpretation of the rise of divorce and separation” (p. 465).
Historically, “African American women have had higher educational levels, higher occupational status, higher labor force participation rates, and in many cases higher earning than African American men” (Kposowa, 1998 p. 543). The success of the feminist movement brought more black women into the workplace and created an even bigger employment divide between black men and women. Today, it is not uncommon to find black women who are much better educated and better paid than their husbands. In such cases, men can feel emasculated and resentful. In time, such men can be seen as more of a liability than an asset to a marriage and not a good prospect for a husband (Kposowa, 1998). With greater employment opportunities available, a woman may be more financially able to make it alone, but when she finally decides to look for a husband, she may find it hard to find a good man.
A Good Man is Hard to Find
In 1860 the African American ratio of adult males to females was about one to one. In 1990 that ratio dropped to only 88 adult males for each 100 adult females. This ratio becomes even more skewed when the scope is limited to the more economically disadvantaged communities (King, 1999). One reason for the shortage of young African American men is that they die earlier.
African American males face a disproportional lifetime risk of death by homicide. According to the Centers for Disease Control (1990), the risk of homicide among African American men is 1 in 27, as compared to 1 in 117 for African American females, 1 in 205 for white males, and 1 in 496 for white females. (Bennet & Fraser, 2000, p. 94)
The leading cause of death of young men between the ages of 15 and 29, regardless of race or ethnicity, is accidental injury, suicide, and homicide. In addition, Black men between the ages of 25 and 44 die from AIDS at seven times the rate of Whites (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2006).
When the ratio of men to women becomes this skewed, competition for finding a man to marry is heightened. If one considers only the “marriageable” black men whom women consider good prospects, the situation looks even grimmer. A large percentage of young black men of marriageable age are either “unemployed, underemployed, imprisoned, and/or suffering from drug abuse or mental illness” (King, 1999, p. 421). And with “[t]he weaker norms against premarital sex, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, nonmarital parenthood, the more economic considerations affect decision to marry” (Wilson, 2003, p. 12).
“By 2002, around 12 percent of black men in their twenties were in prison or jail” (Pettit & Western, 2004, p. 151.). Being undereducated only makes the situation worse. In 2001, the national high school graduation rate for black males was a mere 42.8%; this compares to a 70.8% graduation rate for their white counterparts (Swanson, 2004, p. 23). In 1996, black male dropouts between the ages of twenty and thirty-five nationally had an incarceration rate of over 36% compared to 7.4% for their white counterparts (Pearlstein, 2005). When a majority of black males don’t graduate from high school, and over one-third of these men of marriageable age are in jail, competition for a “good man” becomes even fiercer.
After being released from jail, the prospect for these men obtaining a decent job is not good. It is hindered again by their poor education, especially poor reading skills and poor “soft skills” (the ability to get along with others and take direction from superiors). In addition, employers are less and less willing to take a chance on hiring an ex-offender even if they would personally like to do so. In today’s litigious society and with the ability to do background checks so fast and so cheaply, employers have no excuse not to know their employee’s background. Hiring a man with a record opens them up to lawsuits should an ex-con offend again while on the job (Pearlstein, 2005). Faced with the grim realities of finding a job, many of these men simply slide back into the street crimes that got them into trouble in the first place. And the cycle continues.
With so many prospective husbands in this cycle of unemployment and crime, many women just don’t see the advantage of getting married. An irony of this situation is that many women revere marriage to such an extent that they refuse to disrespect the institution by entering into it with such a high probability of divorce (Edin & Reed, 2005). Some black women appear to have a more bitter, if not more pragmatic, attitude about marriage. In the late 1980s, William Julius Wilson (2003), ofHarvardUniversity, interviewed black women and men in the very poorest neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago about their attitudes regarding marriage. He sums up their feelings as follows: “The women in the inner city tend to believe that black men get involved with women mainly to obtain sex or money, and that once these goals are achieved women are generally discarded” (p. 13). In fact, Wilson’s data showed that black men and women from the inner-city feel “that since most marriages will eventually break up and since marriages no longer represent meaningful relationships, it is better to avoid the entanglement of wedlock altogether” (p. 18).
Marriage can be fraught with many problems. Socioeconomic realities, combined with changing attitudes and behaviors regarding women, can make marriage a difficult proposition for many women. However, choosing, then, to raise a family without a father is also not without its pit falls.
The Consequences of Fatherlessness
At no time should it be inferred that the consequences discussed herein are an absolute for any individual without a father in the home. There are surely exceptions to each of the following examples. Nor is this list of consequences or effects of fatherlessness complete. However, generalizations must be made in order to speak intelligently about important social trends. With this in mind, it does appear that living in a home without a father often has particularly negative effects for young black men.
Father absence appears directly correlated with the rising rate of poverty. Nearly 66% of the disparity of poverty rates between white and black families can be linked to family structure (Horn & Sylvester, 2002). In 2005, 13% of black children in married-couple families lived in poverty, compared with 50% of black children in mother only headed households (Federal Interagency Forum, 2007). Furthermore, “almost 75 percent of illegitimate children will experience poverty before they turn 11, compared with only 29 percent of children raised with two parents at home” (Koch, 2000, p. 476).
There is a distinct economic advantage to black couples who decide to get married. A married black couple has, on average, 131% more income than a single-parent household. When the same married couple decides to have children, “the differences in economic status become even more pronounced, with married households possessing 147 percent more income ($23,021 versus $9,322) and far more net worth ($23,021 versus $0) than single households” (Blackman, Clayton, Glenn, Malone-Colon & Roberts, 2005, p. 22).
The lifestyle of couples who do not choose to marry yet still live together and have children is called cohabitation. It is becoming more and more prevalent. While it’s not marriage, the father is present—at least for a time. In their article, Parental Cohabitation and Children’s Economic Well-Being, Manning and Lichter (1996) sought to discover if the formality of marriage actually made any difference. According to them:
The socioeconomic environment of children living with a cohabiting, single parent appears to be more like that of children living with a single parent without a partner than that of children living with married parents. Such a conclusion is reinforced, at least in part, by our analysis of poverty among the children of cohabiting couples. In strictly economic terms, the mean income of male cohabiting partners is substantially lower – almost one half lower – than the mean income of males in married couples. Children in married-couple families appear to be better off economically than children in cohabiting couple families because of the education and income of their parents, rather than simply because they share a residence with two adults. With two potential earners, children in cohabiting-couple families, nevertheless, enjoy a considerable economic advantage over their counterparts in families headed by single females without an unmarried partner. (p. 1009)
Rodney and Mupier (1999) ofPrairieViewUniversityinTexasconducted personal interviews with 433 African American adolescent males ages 13 to 17 years. Their study found that father-absent adolescents ran away from home over five times as often, were suspended from school more than one and a third times as often, and got in trouble with the law almost one and a half times as often as father-present adolescents. This study did not distinguish between “good” dads or “bad” dads – just the fact that a dad was at home appears to be an advantage. Does this mean that simply having a father in the home will help counter delinquency?
Another group of researchers, after surveying 175 African American mothers or surrogates, and their sons, declared they could not determine a statistically significant correlation relating mere father presence in the home to less delinquent behavior. However, they did observe that with a father present in the home the socioeconomic disadvantages were fewer and there was a positive effect on discipline when two parents were present (Paschall, Ringwalt, & Flewelling, 2003).
The discipline provided by a father could be a significant aspect of the father-present effect. A University of Minnesota study of the data from the 1988 Children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that, “[f]or Blacks, living with a never-married mother appears to predict antisocial behavior completely independently of parenting variables” (McLeod, Kruttschnitt, & Dornfeld, 1994, p. 590). That is to say, regardless of whether the mother was deemed to have positive parenting skills, or whether she was able to earn a decent wage, having a father present was the factor which made the single biggest difference. It appears that there is a significant partner or team effect by having both a mother and father involved in the rearing and discipline of the children.
“African American young adults – particularly males – are overrepresented both as victims and as perpetrators of violent crime” (Bennet & Fraser, 2000, p. 93). In addition, the “arrest rate for homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault continues to be considerably higher for persons 15 – 24 years of age than for all other age groups”(Bennet & Fraser, p. 94). Is it just a coincidence that “sixty percent of convicted rapists, 72 percent of teen murderers and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates are males who grew up without fathers” (Koch, 2000, p. 476)? Is it a fluke that children without fathers in the home “are suspended from school, drop out, commit suicide and are abused or neglected significantly more often than children raised in two-parent households” (Koch, p. 476)?
It is much more likely for a young black male to get into trouble with the law than his white counterpart. That is even more likely when there is no father present. Still, the vast majority of juvenile delinquents stop their violent activities as they get older. However, with African Americans youth, twice as many will continue with their offending—with one large exception. If they become employed, there seems to be no significant difference between races when it comes to continued offending (Bennet & Fraser, 2000). One fact appears evident, “poverty and single parenthood are two of the strongest predictors of children’s antisocial behavior” (McLeod et al., 1994, p. 575).
Elaine Rodney and Robert Mupier (1999) conducted a study where they interviewed 433 African American males and their mothers from a Midwestern city; all were between the ages of 13 and 17. They found that nearly twice as many boys from father-absent homes had to repeat at least one grade in school compared to those in father-present homes (p. 53). In another study using data from the 1988 National Longitudinal Survey for Youth, young black children between the ages of six and nine living in father-absent homes scored much lower on intellectual ability tests than those from two-parent families (Luster & McAdoo, 1994). Vincent Roscigno (1999) of Ohio State University found by analyzing data from more than 11,000 tenth graders included in the National Educational Longitudinal Study for Youth that growing up in a two parent family was a better predictor of math and reading success than either student/teacher ratios or racial segregation.
While some researchers can find a statistical correlation between father absence and success in school, not all researchers believe fatherlessness is the cause. In his study on how the African American family structure affects school attitudes and performance, Heiss (1996) did not find a direct link between father-presence alone and school performance. Neither was he convinced it was the socioeconomic problems generally associated with a mother-only household that was the direct cause of the low rate of academic achievement experienced by black adolescents. He held it was more likely that in a mother-only family structure, it was simply more difficult to discipline children, and that it was the lack of discipline that was a real cause of low academic success. Though Heiss did not observe a direct link between mere father-presence and academic underachievement, he did notice that having a father in the home strongly influenced the adolescents’ attitude about school—for the better.
Having a father who helped with the discipline in the home may then affect the fact that young black males are:
- more likely to be suspended from school than any other group,
- more likely to be classified as retarded,
- more likely to be classified as suffering from a learning disability,
- less likely to be in advanced placement classes, and
- 5. more likely to lag behind their peers in grade point and standardized test scores. (Noguera, 2003)
A Change in Culture
The topic of culture and the effect it can have on the behavior of young black boys is a sensitive subject to discuss. To suggest that culture could be a cause for some of the problems existing in the inner-city black community can be seen as blaming the victim. The charge of racism placed on Senator Moynihan is a case in point. Perhaps to avoid a similar charge, the subject of culture has been avoided, or at least skirted, by researchers for years. With the support of some prominent black scholars, politicians, writers, and even entertainers, the subject is now being addressed.
In his paper, The Trouble with Black Boys, P.A. Noguera (2003) explains the two major views of behavioral theory as they pertain to socioeconomic success or failure. One is the Structuralist’s view. This view tends to look at mainly environmental and economic factors such as job, housing, and education availability. In other words, people are products of their environment. The other view is the Culturalist’s view. This view downplays the environmental significance and focuses on behavior as a product of beliefs, norms, and moral codes—or one’s culture. These designations serve to differentiate the two main ideologies.
Some of the best known proponents of the Structuralist view are William Julius Wilson, Michael Eric Dyson, and Cornel West. Their viewpoints are those generally “taught in universities” (McWhorter, 2006, p. 3). These scholars submit that the reason for the socioeconomic problems experienced by African Americans is a result of society’s “structural” racist economic system, and social architecture (p. 3). Under a Structuralist view, the disadvantages and disincentives that African Americans experience are “built” into the system. In order to improve the situation of the black community, the system needs to be dismantled and changed.
Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson is one of the most prominent proponents of the theory that the deindustrialization of the inner-city was the end of the “good times” for the black male worker. In his books, The Truly Disadvantaged (1987), and again in When Work Disappears (1997),Wilson makes the case that when major factories left the inner-cities for the suburbs, black families could not afford to follow. Unable to find work, poorer blacks were left behind in crumbling neighborhoods, while middle-class blacks moved out. This resulted in the absence of black middle-class role-models for poorer blacks to emulate. Thus began the spiral into virtually permanent poverty and unemployment for the urban black community.Wilson’s theory is a good example of the Structuralist view and has been the conventional way of thinking since the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
The Culturalist would not dispute the dire situation many young black adolescents find themselves in, but they would describe this poverty “trap” as a culture of poverty. This culture of poverty, endemic to particular communities and families, has the effect of legitimizing many anti-social behaviors such as criminal and immoral activities (Noguera, 2003. p. 439). In the Culturalist’s view, to change this behavior, one must change the culture. Therefore, for example, shipping inner-city children out to the suburbs or doling out more money to schools will do little unless accompanied by a change in the attitude toward school they get from their neighborhood (p. 439).
The Culturalist view is not new, but it has never been well received by African American scholars as it is often portrayed as a “blame the victim” mentality. Years ago, in their famous article, Black Students’ School Success: Coping with the “Burden of Acting White”, Fordham and Ogbu (1986) discussed the notion of “acting White.” They proposed that, as a response to their particular set of circumstances, namely poverty and poor economic opportunity, poorer blacks developed an oppositional culture in which succeeding in school is perceived as being subservient to the dominant white culture. To work hard in school and succeed is denounced as “acting White” which was tantamount to betraying one’s race. Faced with this kind of peer pressure, for most young men this was an easy decision. All they had to do was not do their homework and they could be part of the group.
In his book Losing the Race, John McWhorter (2001) calls this kind of oppositional behavior a cult of anti-intellectualism. McWhorter, a black professor of linguistics at theUniversity ofCalifornia atBerkeley, uses the word “cult” to explain the circumstance where one would blindly and thoughtlessly behave in a manner which works against one’s self interest. He fails to see how opposing education “gets back” at anyone in particular, or how this behavior will advance a particular cause. McWhorter makes the case that if one looks closely at this cultural phenomenon of anti-intellectualism, it is clearly a form of protest gone wrong.
Those who argue against this kind of oppositional culture theory maintain its proponents simply do not take into account the history of deprivation and discrimination experienced by African Americans. However, McWhorter acknowledges the history and the injury it caused. His point is that while injustices still exist, there have indeed been improvements for blacks since the first half of the 20th century. And while society is still far from perfect and while discrimination still exists to some extent, simply accepting that black youth can’t learn in anything other than near-perfect conditions does not give blacks enough credit (p. 162).
In his later book, Winning the Race, McWhorter (2006) even questions the generally accepted reasons for acting White. If, as Structuralists insist, acting White is merely a response to poverty and lack of education, why does this attitude pervade even well-educated and economically successful black families? And why did the charge of “acting White” and the widening of the performance gap in education between white and black students not occur right after the Civil War when conditions were much worse for the average black family? In fact, these behaviors only started in the late 60s (p. 262).
McWhorter (2001) sums up his thoughts on anti-intellectualism as follows:
- When a race is disparaged and disenfranchised for centuries and then abruptly given freedom, a ravaged racial self-image makes Victimology and Separatism natural developments.
- Victimology makes mediocre scholarly achievement seem inevitable.
- Separatism, casting scholarly achievement as “what white people do,” sanctions mediocre scholarly achievement.
- It is a short step from inevitable and sanctioned to “authentic,” and authentic is just another word for “cool.” (pp. 162-163)
Arguably the most contemporary manifestation of African American culture is the advent of rap music and its metamorphosis into the “hip-hop” culture. Theresa Marinez, professor of sociology at theUniversityofUtah, “argues that rap music is a form of oppositional culture that offers a message of resistance, empowerment, and social critique” (Armstrong, 2001, p. 96). One very controversial classification of rap music is that of “gangsta rap.” “Gangsta rap music is often identified with violent and misogynist lyric portrayals” (p. 96).
This extremely graphic and oppositional form of rap can be traced back to 1988 and “Public Enemy’s” album: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. In this album, Public Enemy borrowed the hard-edged black nationalistic style of poetry of the “Last Poets”, and added a hip-hop beat (Katel, 2007). Public Enemy’s founder, “Chuck D”, or Carlton Douglas Ridenhour, is known for his famous comment that rap is “the black CNN” (Cable News Network). Ridenhour remains a leading spokesman for rap as a legitimate form of social and political commentary (p. 151).
In an analysis of rap lyrics to determine their misogynistic content, Edward Armstrong (2001) of Murry State University, Kentucky, consulted a 1995 study by the Cultural Indicators Project. In it he found that 22% of the gangsta rap songs studied had violent or misogynist lyrics (p. 99). The Cultural Indicators Project categorized the lyrics into four categories: assault, rape, murder and rape and murder. Armstrong cited a few examples of the lyrics of the 409 songs studied. One example of an assault lyric cited by Armstrong quotes “Too $hort” from his 1993 song, All My Bitches Are Gone,
You fuck with us, bitch, something gettin’ broken
Your leg, arm, jaw, nose, pick a part. (Armstrong, 2001, p. 100)
As an example of a rape lyric, the group “N.W.A.” (Niggaz With Attitude), in their 1991 song, “She Swallowed It”, gives instructions on how to force a 14-year-old girl into performing oral sex:
Punch the bitch in the eye/then the ho will fall to the ground
Then you open up her mouth/put your dick, move the shit around. (Armstrong, 2001, p. 101)
Marshall Mathers, aka “Eminem”, one of the few white rappers, is also one of the most successful. His album lyrics in the year 2000 have two to three times the violent content as the average rap album found in the 1987-1993 time period cited in Armstrong’s study. The Marshall Mathers LP became the fastest selling rap album of all time after including lyrics about infanticide (Armstrong, 2001, p. 106).
These kinds of explicit lyrics invited criticism, especially from adult African American women. It also drew the ire of the law enforcement community with lyrics that promoted cop killing. In response to the lyrics in a 1989 song by N.W.A. called, Fuck Tha Police, an assistant director of the FBI sent a letter accusing the record company of promoting “violence against and disrespect for the law-enforcement officer” (Katel, 2007, p. 542).
This reaction only served to create more interest and increase sales. Hip-hopper’s reactions to criticism can be very harsh. Former Vice President Al Gore’s wife, Tipper Gore, was the target of one such reaction. Mrs. Gore helped found the Parents’ Music Resources Center (PMRC), an organization which helps parents become aware of the kind of lyrics their sons and daughters may be listening to. PMRC’s criticism of rap music lyrics prompted rapper “Ice-T” to record a song in which he proposes having sex “with Tipper Gore’s two twelve-year-old nieces” (Armstrong, 2001, p. 102).
Black columnists Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald and Stanley Crouch of New York’s Daily News wrote editorials castigating the writers and performers of this kind of music. They accuse rappers of advancing urban decline by “romanticizing” immoral behavior and by promoting the lifestyles of “thugs and sluts” (Armstrong, 2001, p. 104). Crouch has called hip-hoppers, “[i]lliterates with gold and diamonds in their teeth”, and slammed them for stereotyping a kind of inner-city lifestyle that makes a thug a hero (Katel, 2007, p. 544).
Yet there are others, most notably Michael Eric Dyson, professor of humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, who argue that critics of gangsta rap music simply don’t understand rap because they have not taken the time to really listen to it and therefore cannot grasp the context and true meaning (Armstrong, 2001, p. 108). Dyson claims that “[g]ansta rappers are an easy target” for criticism, and that “[w]e should [instead] be having a hearing on crime and on economic misery”, which he believes is the underlying cause for such angry material (Katel, 2007, p. 544).
A new way of thinking is emerging from within the black community that is critical of the direction the black community has taken for the last 40 years. These new ideas come from black men who decry a culture they see as promoting fatherlessness, poor education, high rates of criminal activity, and joblessness—especially among young African American males. These men are often called “black conservatives.” While never having seen himself as particularly “conservative,” Shelby Steele has somewhat reluctantly accepted the label, mostly because he tends to share a similar mindset with others who have been labeled with this moniker (Steele, 2007). Regardless of the label, on the whole, these men are best defined by their chief opponents. These opponents tend to be liberal academics and traditional civil rights supporters (McWhorter, 2006; Steele, 2007). Some of the best known black conservatives are Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, and Ward Connerly.
Ironically it was Bill Cosby, a black comedian, who would not normally be considered a black conservative, who truly hit a nerve. His comments at the 2004 NAACP 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision drew the attention of the press and the ire of many in the black community. While addressing the crowd at the commemoration, Cosby was openly critical of the black community for allowing a “50 percent dropout rate” in their schools, and for “having children by five or six different men” (Cosby, 2004, ¶ 8). He chided parents for letting their children speak poor English and for allowing them to wear “their hat on backwards, [and their] pants down around the crack” (¶ 11). Then he asked:
What part ofAfricadid this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are no Africans, they don’t know a damned thing aboutAfrica. With names like Shaniqua, Shaligua, Mohammed and all that crap and all of them are in jail.
Cosby then told the audience that “Brown Versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person’s problem. We’ve [emphasis added] got to take the neighborhood back (clapping)” (Cosby, ¶ 12).
While many in the audience cheered, Cosby’s comments drew criticism from others such as Michael Dyson of the Universityof Pennsylvaniawho wrote an entire book entitled, Is Bill Cosby Right? Or has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind? Dyson is a frequent commentator on black culture. He strongly opposes Cosby’s views, and accuses him of blaming the victim and overlooking the social factors that are the real cause of these problems. He also admonishes Cosby for spurning the role of spokesman during the height of the civil rights movement only to use his celebrity now to criticize his own race (Dyson, 2006).
Economist Walter Williams of George Mason University, another critical black conservative, questions blaming racism for poor schooling when predominantly black Washington D.C. has one of the nation’s highest per pupil budgets at nearly $15,000 per pupils and one of the nation’s lowest student per pupil ratio at 15.2 to 1. Still only 6% of the city’s eighth-graders test at a proficient level in reading. In addition, he points out that where black education is failing the most, “often the city mayor is black, the city council is black-dominated and often the school superintendent is black, as well as most of the principals and teachers” (Williams, 2006, ¶ 4). He does not blame the black administrators for these results, but he finds it difficult to “chalk up the rotten education to racial discrimination” (¶ 7).
Shelby Steele, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution andStanfordUniversity, and John McWhorter ofBerkeley, are two of the most prolific of the conservative black writers. Both men have also been critical of the behavior of the black community. Their writings provide a thorough understanding of the black conservative perspective. These writers take care to point out their understanding and agreement that the injustices experienced by African Americans had a profoundly negative effect on the black community. However, they find it implausible that the wounds inflicted by the injustices of the past were of such a degree as to account entirely for the current rates of illegitimacy, crime, and illiteracy in the black community, especially when judged in the context of current conditions and taking into account the gains won through the civil rights movements of the 60s and 70s, which they see as substantial, albeit not complete (Steele, 2007; McWhorter, 2006).
Steele (2007) proposed one theory for why the promise of the civil rights era was never realized for so many blacks. Part of the problem stems from what he calls “white guilt.” He defines white guilt as an attempt by “whiteAmerica” to dissociate themselves from the past sins of slavery and discrimination. With this dissociation, whiteAmericaadmits to the sins of their forefathers and the past evils of slavery, but in doing so, gives up any moral authority it ever had. Because they are “guilty” of past transgressions, whiteAmericabelieves they can no longer make moral judgments on anyone, especially blacks (Steele, 2007).
Steele recalls his first understanding of this idea as a young man listening to a speech by civil rights activist Dick Gregory. He understood Gregory’s words to mean that a racistAmerica“had inflicted responsibility on us [blacks] while denying us the freedom to do much with it,” and therefore it followed that responsibility was “a tool of oppression.” By taking on responsibility, a black man would then be “complicit in [his] own oppression” (Steele, 2007, p. 52). Steele said he began to understand that because whiteAmericano longer had moral authority, “my country was now repentant before me. I now possessed a separate power that it could only appeal to, appease, or placate. NowAmericahad to prove itself to me” (Steele, p. 55).
Steele (2007) contends that white America adopted this way of thinking to assuage its guilt, and could therefore no longer expect blacks “to be fully responsible for pulling themselves up” (p. 53). Steele further explains:
But far more important, this great infusion of moral authority gave blacks the power to imprint the national consciousness with a profound new edict, an unwritten law more enforceable than many actual laws: that no black problem—whether high crime rates, poor academic performance, or high illegitimacy rates—could be defined as largely a black responsibility, because it was an injustice to make victims responsible for their own problems. To do so would be to “blame the victim,” thereby repeating his victimization. (Steele, 2007, p. 55)
McWhorter has a similar view of whiteAmericatrying to ease its guilt by relieving blacks of responsibility. He writes extensively of blacks seeing themselves as victims, which he sees being used as an excuse for acting irresponsibly. He criticizes the creation of a culture of “blackness” for the purpose of keeping separate from mainstream American culture. McWhorter also disapproves of the development of a meme of “anti-intellectualism” which only serves to promote ignorance and stifle the possibility of advancement in the black community. He calls these practices “self-sabotage” because he believes much of the black community does not see that many of the problems of today are self-inflicted (McWhorter, 2001; McWhorter, 2006).
He writes of a young, rarely employed, black man making the first of his four illegitimate babies at age seventeen:
[I]t is hard to condemn him. It’s all he knew. But all he knew only began when whites, comforting themselves by fighting The Man [emphasis added] and showing that they were not racists, decided that it was a form of higher wisdom to teach poor black people not to work. (McWhorter, 2006, p. 10)
These kinds of messages and cultural illustrations are often taken poorly by the black community; they are often seen as attacks and put-downs. Because of this, “conservative” black writers are frequently the target of spiteful accusations. McWhorter, for one, has been charged with being “a sellout, a self-hater and an Uncle Tom” (Fletcher, 2001, ¶ 5). It is clear McWhorter understands why his words invoke the visceral reaction they do. However, he laments that “[t]o be authentically [emphasis added] black is to maintain a wary sense of whiteAmerica—what ever that is—as eternally ‘on the hook’” (McWhorter, 2006, p. 154). Steele, too, has been slighted. Such experiences made him realize he was “caught in the defining contradiction of the culture war: on one side no enforcement of principle; on the other side the stigmatization that prevents enforcement” (Steele, p. 180).
As controversial as these conservative writers can be, they do find occasional like mindedness, even among their critics. In regard to what should be done about the current black meme, McWhorter (2006) quotes University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax in a Wall Street Journal editorial, that while white racism was the original cause,
[b]ad habits take on a life of their own, impeding the ability to grasp widening opportunities as society progresses, discrimination abates and old obstacles fall away. The victim himself has changed in ways that place him beyond the reach of outside help alone. (p. 353)
In this editorial she argues that simply reversing racism will not do the trick. She further states that “[i]n seeking solutions, we must look forward rather than dwell on the past because the way out of the present dilemma may not resemble the path in” (McWhorter, 2006, p. 353). McWhorter is more direct when he says, “The greatest need at present may not be more government spending and new programs but a conversion experience” (McWhorter, p. 354).
Boys Raised by Artificial Memes
When the father is not present, the roles of the father must be taken up by others. Others now must to take up the artificial role of fathering by modeling good behavior, mentoring the young man on what it means to be a man, and leading the family through the cultural rites of passage.
What exactly does it mean to become a man, and how does a young man know he has achieved this status? Schools have graduation ceremonies to signify the achievement of a certain level of education. Many religious denominations have ceremonies such as baptism, first communion or confirmation to mark achievements in one’s faith. But if a young man does not see his father, or other adult men, participating in these kinds of rituals, will he choose to participate in these rites, and if he does, will he recognize and accept the meaning?
Authors Herbert Bloch and Arthur Niederhoffer write of the need for youth to have a “culturally legitimized” way of transitioning from a child to an adult (as cited in Carlie, 2002). Furthermore they stress “that when societies do not make adequate preparation, formal or otherwise, for the induction of its adolescents into adult status, the youths will make their own culture for this transition” (¶ 5). This “adolescent-made” culture often takes the form of a gang as criminologist and journalist Don Pinnock points out in his paper Gangs: Fighting Fire with Fire. Pinnock (n.d.) states that, “Where ritual is not present, it is created” (¶ 3). He further writes:
In this painful and dangerous journey can be found echoes of African initiation ceremonies, Jewish bar mitzvahs, ancient hunting rituals, Boer kommando lore, images of Hollywood, Christian holy communions, Khoi trance dances, Arthurian legends and many other rituals through which, for millennia, young people have attempted to prove themselves worthy of adulthood. But if to this wild search for self identity and social respect you add guns and drugs—and take away the guidance of adults (particularly fathers) who could lead youths into calmer, more acceptable waters—a disaster is inevitable. (Pinnock, n.d., ¶ 4)
When left to their own devices, young gang members can come up with some cruel and even savage rites. One of the more common initiation rites for new gang members is to be “jumped in” or “beat in” to the gang. This can require fighting a certain number of gang members for a given period of time, or it may require the initiated to simply take a beating without fighting back, or even crying out in pain. Being “jacked in” requires the prospective member to commit some crime, usually a robbery or burglary of some type. A “blood in” or “blood out” rite requires a member to commit a murder of a rival gang member to enter or exit the gang. More recently, rites with sexual overtones are becoming more prevalent. Girls are “sexed in” to a gang by having sex with a number of the male gang members—a kind of “consensual” gang-rape. Males are “deeded in” by having sex with a girl known to be HIV positive (Pinnock, n.d.; Navara, 2006).
The recognition that a culturally acceptable rite-of-passage is necessary for youths in the African American community is not new. In a 1992 article titled, The Rites of Passage Movement: A Resurgence of African-Centered Practices for Socializing African American Youth, social scientist Nsenga Warfield-Coppock (1992) wrote that black youths are confused by the dominant American values of “capitalism, racism, sexism, and oppression.” She also maintained that by going to public schools, young black children have been subjected to participating in a system that “values independence over interdependence and mutual aid, competition over cooperation, materialism over spiritualism, and youth worship over elder reverence” (p. 471).
Ms. Warfield-Coppock (1992) found studies which document the success of rites-of-passage programs, especially for African American boys, difficult to find. Therefore, she mailed a survey to 30 rites-of-passage programs throughout the country. Twenty of the 30 questionnaires were completed and returned. It was found that all groups who responded targeted youths between the ages of 12 and 16 years, though some groups extended their target to those as old as 19 and as young as 11 years of age. Ninety percent of the respondents indicated that it was important for the youth to gain knowledge of self and culture in order to deal with the problems they face each day and that their programs were designed to address these issues. (pp. 476-477). “Seventy percent of the agencies/organizations identified their basic thrust as ‘African-centered,’ ‘Afro-centric,’ ‘nationalistic,’ or ‘culturally specific’” (p. 477).
Warfield-Coppock (1992) found these programs difficult to assess because most programs used informal assessment strategies which complicated direct comparison. The problems most often cited by program directors was that parents often did not follow through with their commitments to the program and that there were negative attitudes about the “Afro-centric nature” of the rites. Another challenge cited was “community indifference, lack of knowledge, or resistance to the rites of passage concept” (p. 479).
Role Models and Mentors
Zimmerman, Salem, and Maton (1995) conducted a study of 254 African American adolescent males from an east-coast inner-city, to determine psychosocial correlates in various family structures. A multi-method interview process was conducted with both random and recruited participants who did not complete high school. In all interviews there was an assurance of confidentiality to the youth and their families. It was found that simply living without a father was not a clear predictor of delinquency. In many cases, other male role models, such as uncles, grandfathers, and neighbors could substitute for a father’s role. In some cases, young men appeared to receive even more [emphasis added] support in fatherless households than in a present-father situations because the mother would compensate for the absence and cultivate additional sources of support. However, it was found that “neither parental support nor emotion support from [sic] father mediated the relation between family structure and most of the psychosocial outcomes” (p. 1608).
Alison Bryant of theUniversityofMissouriand Marc Zimmerman (2003) of theUniversityofMichiganstudied 679 African American ninth-graders from a large city inMichigan. They found that offending males who later took on mentors offered evidence that taking on a substitute male role model was associated with more positive behavioral outcomes, similar to those who had a father at home. In addition, having a positive role model is associated with providing more “social capital” such as networking skills or connections to other people that could be of help when negotiating the various challenges of adolescence. These studies implied that youth without role models had to start from “ground zero” with their socialization skills, almost learning from “trial and error” instead of building on the work of others (Bryant & Zimmerman, 2003).
Reliable studies on the effects of non-parent mentoring and role modeling are difficult to obtain. Much of the problem stems from inconsistent involvement and follow-through on the part of the mentor. A group of researchers from theUniversityofMissouristudied 55 separate mentoring programs aimed primarily at at-risk youth (DuBois, Holloway, Valentine, & Cooper, 2002). Each program was a youth/adult program as opposed to a peer mentoring program. When testing for five types of outcomes – emotional/psychological, problem/high risk behavior, social competence, academic/educational, and career/employment – the typical overall benefit to the mentored youth was found to be positive though quite modest. The effect of mentoring for any one specific outcome area was more difficult to determine and found to be inconclusive
Community and work based programs showed slightly better results than school based mentoring programs. It also made a difference if the mentor had personal experience with at-risk behavior, or had regular contact with youths who were involved in at-risk behaviors. One surprising result was that neither the amount of time spent in personal contact with the youth, nor the length of the mentoring experience, appeared to have a significant effect on the success of the program. Suggestions for future improvements were for better mentor/youth matching methods, better training for mentors, and more reasonable time demands for mentors (Dubois et al., 2002).
The Fatherhood Movement
The part of the fatherhood movement receiving the most attention today is called the Fatherhood Responsibility Movement (Gavanas, 2001). At its core, this movement is best defined as a movement to reestablish fathers as an integral part of their families. In general, the members of this movement agree that the effects of fatherlessness are devastating; however, the methods and strategies for combating this problem are hotly debated. There are two main factions of the Fatherhood Responsibility Movement. Anthropologist Anna Gavanas (2001) of theUniversityofIllinoisdefines them as the “pro-marriage” wing and the “fragile families” wing.
The “pro-marriage” wing is generally seen as the more conservative group. This group sees the problem of fatherless families primarily as a cultural problem. They would most likely be considered “culturalist” in their understanding of societal behavior. In their view, the rise of divorce, the society’s blithe acceptance of illegitimacy and the welfare state are culpable for the skyrocketing rate of fatherless homes. Their number one solution to this problem is to promote marriage and a stable two-parent family. A few of the best known members of this wing of the movement are David Blankenhorn with the Institute for American Values, Wade Horn with the National Fatherhood Initiative, and David Popenoe of the National Marriage Project (Koch, 2000; Gavanas, 2001).
Members of the pro-marriage wing, such as David Blankenhorn, Ronald Mincy, and Wade Horn, seek to advance their agenda by educating the public through publishing books, research papers, and articles which point to the advantages of traditional marriage. In addition, while they tend to blame government intervention, in particular welfare policy, for discouraging many marriages and for encouraging many divorces, they will promote and influence governmental policies that help to promote marriage. Much of the data for this paper was drawn from studies produced by these groups.
The “fragile-families” wing of the movement is comprised mostly of low-income, poor and minority fathers, and academics that see the problem as a structural one. To them, the reason fatherlessness is so prevalent, especially in the inner city black neighborhoods, is the poor quality of education in the public schools, and the lack of jobs and economic opportunity which prevents black men from being able to support a family. They believe more and better government support for job training, increased educational opportunities, and the like; can turn back the tide (Koch, 2000). Some of the leaders in this group are the National Practitioners Network, the Partner for Fragile Families, and theNationalCenterfor Strategic Non-profit Planning and Community Leadership (Gavanas, 2001). These organizations work closely with many governmental organizations, most notably the Department of Health and Human Services.
The fragile-families wing does not tend to be as controversial as the pro-marriage group. Promoting better jobs and education through governmental intervention is not a new idea, and therefore not alarming to the general public. The view of the fragile-families group appears to be that government has yet to find the “right formula” to ensure that all people have a good education and a good job, and that its government’s responsibility to keep working to solve this problem.
The major difference between the pro-marriage and fragile-family wings is their view of marriage. “The fragile families wing is opposed to the idea that marriage should become a policy goal, [emphasis added] which may end up making conditions worse for their constituencies” (Gavanas, 2001, p. 315). The fragile-family wing is not opposed to marriage per se; in fact, they would like to help “good” marriages and families become the norm. The big concern for them is that the way current welfare policy is applied, getting married ironically works against the economic security of single-parent, and especially mother-only, households. The pro-marriage wing, on the other hand, views marriage as an “incentive to increase employability and the responsibility of fathers” to bring their families out of poverty (p. 315).
Father’s Rights Groups
Finally, there are a host of “father’s rights” groups whose main concern is getting more access to their children. These groups are not generally seen as associated with the Father Responsibility Movement. In fact, many of men in these groups claim they are trying to be responsible, but are prevented from doing so by the courts, and in many cases, the mothers of their children. Their main complaint is that they do not get a fair shake in the court system when it comes to divorce settlements and child custody hearings (Baskerville, 2002).
A quick internet search can find literally hundreds of organizations such as Father’s Rights, Inc., The Father’s Rights Foundation, or Fathers and Dads for Equal Custody Rights, which are billed as father advocate organizations dedicated to help fathers deal with legal problems concerning child support, visitation rights, loss of driver’s license due to unpaid child support, and many other problems generally related to divorce.
Wade Horn, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, has his concerns regarding the motives of a few of these groups and completely disavowed any association with a fathers’ rights group called the Fathers Manifesto. This group goes so far as to call for the repeal of women’s right to vote. His concern is that the extreme ideas of some of these groups only diminish the efforts of groups like his. Horn said of them, “We have nothing whatsoever to do with them…They are a bunch of misogynists who don’t have any problem making up false statistics to support their rhetoric” (Koch, 2000, p. 477).
Fatherhood and Politics
Politics play a large role in the Fatherhood Responsibility Movement. By far, the side getting the most press and political momentum at this time is the pro-marriage wing of the movement. While considered a “conservative” movement, the pro-marriage stance on fatherhood still receives bi-partisan support (Koch, 2000). For instance, in 1995, President Bill Clinton stated that “the single biggest social problem in our society may be the growing absence of fathers from their children’s homes” (Baskerville, 2002, p. 695). In addition, Vice President Al Gore, at the 1998 National Fatherhood Initiative’s national summit, said that the transformation that takes place in the life of a child through the love of a father is “the single most powerful civilizing influence in human society” (Gavanas, 2001, p. 327).
Much has changed just since 1992 when then Vice President Dan Quayle was ridiculed for criticizing the television sitcom Murphy Brown for glamorizing the choice of having a child out of wedlock. At the time, Vice President Quayle was made to look naïve and out-of-touch for his overly conservative views on social morality (Koch, 2000). His comments angered many liberal politicians and women’s groups who felt his statements were a kind of veiled threat aimed to take back the gains women had just worked so hard to gain. However, some agreed with his point.
In 1995, the Million Man March amassed inWashington,D.C.This gathering of predominantly African American men from around the country was staged for the purpose of publicly reaffirming their responsibilities as husbands and fathers to their wives and children. Two years later, in 1997, another group called the Promise Keepers was filling entire stadiums with men from all walks of life for a similar purpose. Their purpose was similar, but the crowd was a bit different. Promise Keepers had the support of mostly white Christian conservatives, and did not shy away from the decidedly religious tone of its message (Koch, 2000).
The appearance of the fatherhood movement began to resemble a 1960s civil rights campaign with the Million Man March inWashingtonD.C., combined with a “Billy Graham style revival meeting” as the Promise Keepers attracted hundreds of thousand of men to stadiums to “renew” their roles as fathers and husbands. Groups like the Fatherhood Initiative, the Marriage Movement, and the National Practitioner Network gained enough influence to convince legislators to advance legislation that included media campaigns to promote “responsible” fatherhood, and block-grants to support married two-parent families. Other proposals included changes in welfare policy that were designed to encourage marriage, cash incentives to unwed pregnant mothers who choose to marry, and adding discussions about marriage to sex education classes (Coltrane, 2001; Gavanas, 2001).
Some in the movement were less comfortable with the pro-marriage proposals. Commenting from the Morehouse Conference on African American Fathers, the “fragile-family” faction of the conference asserted the following:
For some of us, then, promotion of a “marriage first” strategy fails to take account of the decreased marriageability of Black men. It also discounts the suffering of many mothers and children who have lived through abusive marriages, and pays insufficient attention to other practical realities that make marriage the wrong answer for many couples. We do not condone childbirth outside of marriage. But we support strategies that take into account the current reality of high rates of non-marital births. We argue that families must be nurtured and strengthened as we find them. (Morehouse Research Institute, 1999, p. 16)
While there are differing views regarding strategy within the Father Responsibility Movement, sociologist Scott Coltrane of the University of California, Riverside openly accuses the pro-marriage groups of being disingenuous in their promotion of what he calls an “overly simplistic” view of the fatherless situation, and that much of the data used by the conservative pro-marriage groups may have been purposefully misinterpreted to favor their viewpoint. In his critique, Marketing the Marriage “Solution”: Misplaced Simplicity in the Politics of Fatherhood, Coltrane (2001) stated the following:
Although many sociologists see themselves as defenders of the oppressed, we should remember that sociology and the social sciences more generally have also provided ideological justification for social hierarchies and support for the interests of ruling elites. Sociological findings can be used for exclusion and exploitation as well as for inclusion and social justice. In this address I call your attention to an alarming political and cultural trend: the use of sociological research to justify policies designed to promote a narrow religious view of what counts as a legitimate family. (p. 388)
Coltrane (2001) also disputes the motives of the pro-marriage groups—calling them “moral entrepreneurs.” He suggests they are simply trying to impede the “erosion of white male privilege.” In addition, he asserts that their “[a]ttempts to reinstate marriage and traditional fatherhood stem from white men’s insecurity and their fear that women no longer need them” (p. 390). Finally, he charges the movement with promoting marriage as a kind of “universal wonder product”, while purposefully avoiding mention of any negative side effects (p. 395).
Coltrane’s (2001) comments appear to reflect a common concern in the feminist and gay community. They see the promotion of the “family” defined as a father and mother (one man and one woman) as being discriminatory—if not hostile—to gay or single family structures. Indeed, Coltrane was encouraged by his colleagues at the Council for Contemporary Families to write his critique (p. 412). Paula Edelbrick, of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Forces, believes that promoting marriage is forcing a specific lifestyle on to people that can be “really destructive” (Koch, 2000, p. 481). Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, points out that several studies show that up to 80% of welfare recipients are survivors of domestic violence and questions why women should be rewarded for staying in a marriage like that (Koch, p. 480).
There is no shortage of critics to the Responsible Fatherhood Movement who react as if the movement is attacking their personal lifestyle rather than promoting a better situation for fatherless children. A simple internet search of the various leaders in the fatherhood movement will list hundreds of web pages contradicting and questioning the research and motives of the movement and its members.
In response to some of the criticism, Timothy J. Dailey of the Family Research Council commented that, “[f]or radically divergent concepts of the family, such as those espoused by homosexual activists, to be considered ‘legitimate,’ it must first be shown that neither mothers nor fathers are essential to successful families”(Koch, 2000, p. 478). And apparently Louise Silverstein and Carl Auerbach of YeshivaUniversityin their celebrated work, Deconstructing the Essential Father, set out to do just that.
In their paper, Silverstein and Auerbach (1999) accuse what they call “neoconservative social scientists” of using “an incorrect or oversimplified interpretation of empirical research” in their writings and that “responsible fathering can occur within a variety of family structures” (p. 1). In addition, they find the acceptance of conclusions offered by authors such as Blankenhorn and Popenoe “surprising” because they have not proved that the absence of a father in the home actually “caused” anything—good or bad. At best, in their view, they have merely pointed out that “[f]ather absence covaries with other relevant family characteristics, i.e. the lack of a male income; the absence of a second adult; and the lack of support from a second extended family system” (p. 11).
Silverstein and Auerbach’s (1999) study consisted of interviewing approximately 200 men from 10 different subcultures over a six-year period. The subcultures studied included: “Haitian Christian Fathers; Promise Keeper fathers; gay fathers; Latino fathers; White, non-gay divorced fathers; Modern Orthodox Jewish fathers; [and] Greek grandfathers” (p. 3). Their study convinced them that “neither a mother nor a father is essential” for the successful raising of a child (p. 3). Indeed, they believe that a “wide variety of family structures can support positive child outcomes”. They do, however, concede that “children need at least one responsible, caretaking adult who has a positive emotional connection with them” (p. 3). Aside from these conclusions, Carl Auerbach has been quoted as saying, “We do think kids need parents, as many as possible” (as cited in Koch, 2000, p. 477).
Michael Connor and Joseph White (2007), in their article, Fatherhood in Contemporary Black America: An Invisible Presence, contend that the dominant culture inAmerica does not understand what a “father” is in the black community, and therefore cannot blame fatherlessness for the problems it is alleged to cause.
There seem to be major discrepancies between the negative absent father images of black men described in demographic studies and the picture of black men in fathering roles which emerges from structured interviews, narratives, biographical sketches, community-based observations, and ethnographic investigations. (Conner & White, 2007, p. 2)
In their view, the role, and even the definition of what a father is in the Black community is not clear. “Traditional definitions of fatherhood underestimate the role of black fathers and do not adequately capture the cultural nuances [emphasis added] that surround the fathering role in the African American experience” (Conner & White, 2007, p. 3). In other words, simply collecting demographic data on fathering in the Black community and comparing it to other non-Black populations does not give a fair comparison because the cultural role of a black father is so different; it is simply not an apples-to-apples comparison.
It is their contention that in the black community, fathering (and therefore the father) takes on different roles not understood by the dominant Euro-American culture. In their discussion they prefer to use the term “social fatherhood” to include all the men who may assume various roles that a father might be expected to fulfill, which in many cases may not even include the biological father (Conner & White, 2007, p. 3). Conner and White acknowledge that this manner of fathering is obviously at odds with the norms of a Euro-American culture. However, they suggest that African American men could improve their current situation by taking advantage of their bicultural advantages. By combining the African cultural strengths that helped their ancestors survive the slavery experience with their modern Euro-American experiences, they submit that African American men can learn to thrive and effectively renew ensuing generations in a dominant Euro-American culture.
Discussion and Conclusion
Summary of Literature
There is little disagreement that in the last four decades there has been a tremendous increase in the number of African American families without a father present. However, there is still much debate regarding the effects of fatherlessness on the behavior and academic achievement of the adolescent African American male. It is clear that children raised in homes without fathers have a statistically greater risk of experiencing poverty, failing in school, being involved with delinquent behavior, and for having a child out-of-wedlock. However, there is disagreement whether it is the absence of the father that causes these problems or whether fatherlessness is simply one of many possible social and economic factors. There are many competing theories which question why fatherlessness and the problems it suggests are much more prevalent in the black community compared to the majority community, and why young black males appear so susceptible to these problems.
Historical evidence tends to dispute the notion that African American families are “naturally” matriarchal or that fatherlessness stems from the break up of the family dating back to the period of slavery inAmerica. In fact, much of the data suggests that just after the Civil War, an extremely strong and resilient family structure existed within the black community which included a father in the home.
The dramatic increase in fatherlessness can be traced to the 1960s. This was a time of great change. Many social and economic changes occurred, especially in inner-city neighborhoods. The civil rights and feminist movements were at their peak of influence. These changes, combined with a significant increase in government sponsored welfare programs, are blamed for dramatically changing the structure of the family in theUnited States- especially the black family.
Some studies suggest increased welfare benefits to unmarried mothers made it more likely for a woman to raise her children without a father. It is also suspected that the new, more feminist view of marriage and family convinced many women that a husband was not even necessary to raise children successfully. Others blame the rise in fatherlessness in the black community on the deindustrialization of the inner-cities in the 1960s. Industry’s flight to the suburbs resulted in the loss of well-paying jobs, especially for low-skilled black workers. It is argued that this, combined with entrenched racism, kept black men out of work, rendering them impotent as providers, making it hard to be good husbands and fathers. Still others believe a dynamic developed whereby a once resilient black community began to condone a culture of victimology and anger that fostered a culture of self-destructive behavior.
Out-of-wedlock births are now the norm in the black community. Illegitimacy rates are rising rapidly in whiteAmericaas well. This has caught the attention of many local and national leaders. A fatherhood movement formed to combat this problem. This movement called for fathers to return to the family and to resume their responsibility as husbands and fathers. One wing of this movement believes marriage is the key to getting the father back as a responsible part of the family, while the other wing maintains social reform and job training is the key.
Another group of black men concerned with the direction of African American culture next arrived on the scene. These men, often called “black conservatives,” call for an end of what they see as self-destructive behavior and the memes of victimology, anger, and anti-intellectualism. They understand the history of racism and discrimination that is the African American experience; however they are critical of what they see as an irresponsible cultural reaction, which they believe is causing high rates of illegitimacy and crime endemic to mostly black inner-city neighborhoods.
It is still being debated whether it is a cultural or socioeconomic trigger that should be blamed for the weakening of the black family. However, a consensus is building that it is probably some combination of the two. The most recent research is stressing the cultural aspects of fatherlessness.
Limitations of Research
Even though the preponderance of evidence points strongly to the positive effects of having a father in the home and to the negative effects of father absence, it is impossible to absolutely prove either assertion. As with most social research, varying circumstances can reasonably be cited as alternative causal factors for problems ranging from poverty and delinquency to drug abuse and crime. Proving causation is effectively impossible because exceptions exist for almost any proposed cause. Many young black males who grew up without fathers turn out to be responsible and productive men. Similarly, there are many examples of very troubled young men who had a father in the home.
The limitations of social research are not only statistical. The perceptions of results can often be prejudiced with emotion. A hard working single mother may take umbrage with being told she would be better-off by having a father in the home. The inability to provide absolute causal factors in the social sciences will always exist. There are no guarantees. Accepting general solutions for often individual circumstances can be difficult, especially for Americans who, in many respects, regard individualism and self-reliance so highly. Besides, many people believe they will be the exception.
Implications for Future Research
The results of this paper suggest the need for further research regarding the implications of the cultural dissociation between much of black and whiteAmerica. It is possible that the true attitudes about race, fairness, and equality of both cultures could be couched in the non-confrontational tradition of political correctness. Feelings are spared, but at what cost?
The idea of self-sabotage of which John McWhorter (2001) writes, suggests the need to investigate the emotional responses of black American culture. The “white guilt” Shelby Steele (2006) writes of suggests a weakness in the emotional, if not moral, character of whiteAmerica. Each idea deserves further study. These two “cultural” emotions seem to have combined to allow black and whiteAmericato form a kind of neurotic “codependency”—one culture needing to assuage its guilt, the other needing to exact justice or retribution. This practice developed into a kind of racial capitalism where the transaction costs are measured in social programs (Steele, 2007, pp. 57-69).
A study of the possible existence of this “codependent relationship” could have substantial benefit in gaining a better understanding of how to heal the injuries of the past and prevent the destruction of current and future cultures.
Implications for Professional Application
Race is still an issue in today’s schools. It would be naïve to ignore its implications in the classroom. A teacher who understands black male culture and how it perceives authority is in a better position to deal with its implications. “Customer” knowledge is the key to providing a good product for any business and education is no exception. Knowing how these young men developed their attitudes toward respect and authority without a father to teach them, could only be helpful, especially if respect and authority are ever to be present in the classroom. Understanding the structure of the black family, and knowing what young men do after school, can help in predicting possible reactions and responses to various teaching and disciplinary strategies. Finally, while poor behavior from these young men should not be assumed, it should also not come as a surprise. Being prepared for the challenges these young men present will increase the chances of success.
The experiment with the fatherless family has failed. The reasons for failure can be debated, but the experiment should be stopped. Yes, some families thrive without fathers, but most do not. Statistically, the surest way to avoid poverty is to be in a stable, two-parent home where the mother and father are married. The father plays an integral part in raising children, and it appears the value of a father and mother in the home add up to more than the sum of their parts.
The effects of fatherlessness on the behavior and academic achievement of the adolescent African American males are devastating. The dismissive attitudes about education and poor behavior in the classroom prevents many young black men from obtaining the tools necessary to succeed in an economy which no longer values unskilled labor. Black and whiteAmericaalike must embrace their common values and work toward rebuilding strong families. The failure to do so could result in no less than the loss of an entire culture. Replacing these fathers will be difficult, especially with so many young black men who lack the benefit of ever seeing their own fathers, as fathers. The job will be a slow and difficult one.
Fortunately, a kind of reawakening appears to be happening with the emergence of the new fatherhood movements and with strong black leaders calling for change. Change can happen quickly, especially in today’s world of the internet and satellite television. Perhaps the often misused tool of media can be turned around for a positive influence. We must remain vigilant to new possibilities. We must pray that we are alert enough to see the potential of new solutions, and that we are wise enough to be able to take advantage of them.
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List of Tables
1. Living Arrangement of Children inWaltonCounty, 1870…………………………… 13
2. Living Arrangement of Children inWaltonCounty, 1885…………………………… 14
3. Black Children 0-14 years Percentage Distribution…………………………………….. 15
4. White Children 0-14 years Percentage Distribution…………………………………….. 16
Political Hack @ August 29, 2012
Posted in: Transportation | Comments Off
With the expansion of light rail, will crime follow the tracks?
KSTP Channel 5 reported:
St.Paul police say the number of people getting robbed on the street is up along the light rail route, typically at bus stops and on street corners.
In the past month, more than half ofall the robberies in St Paul were on University Avenue.
Minneapolis Star Tribune reported:
Police reports provide terse summaries of some of the more serious incidents.
“Gang-relatedbrawl on light-rail platform,” reads a report on an incident in May.Minneapolis police
reported in March that “transit officers were involved in a physical confrontation at the Lake Street LRT platform.”
On another occasion this year, police reported that a 34-year-old man was standing on the platform
“not bothering anyone when a group … jumped on him and kicked and punched him.”
Carol Ness, 71, sat on a bench on the platform last week waiting for a southbound train to visit a friend. She
occasionally sees troublemakers at the station and still remembers a day a few years ago when a teen repeatedly
demanded money from her.
Ness said better security cameras could make a difference if they trigger quicker police response.
“Sometimesthere’s people making trouble and no police, no nothing,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”
“Something needs to be done!” as quoted above,
HOW ABOUT ABANDONING THE EXPANSION OF LIGHT RAIL!?
It will save the citizens of Minnesota a lot of headaches and finances.
STOP LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION!!!
Political Hack @ August 16, 2012
Posted in: Transportation | Comments Off
The definition of Governor Dayton’s South West model railroad folly is:
1.the state or quality of being foolish; lack of understanding or sense.
2.a foolish action, practice, idea, etc.; absurdity: the folly of creating without purpose.
3.a costly and foolish undertaking; unwise investment or expenditure.
Why are we sacrificing the following community projects for a model railroad which will cost billions to create and millions to maintain and only benefit a few in the metro area?
8th Street Corridor, Infrastructure Replacement & Street Reconstruction, Solid Waste Facility & Recycling Program, Geriatric Nursing Facility for Veterans, Industrial Park Infrastructure, Redevelopment & Parking, Bloomington Central Station Public Improvements, Sewer & Water Infrastructure, Industrial Park Infrastructure, Soil Correction, Utility and Street Improvements, Infrastructure for Apartments in Waconia, Infrastructure for Housing in the City of Carver, Redevelop School & Auditorium into Performance/Exhibit Space, Infrastructure for Housing & Industrial Park, Terminal Enhancement, Expand Industrial Park, Construct a new Public Works Facility, Water Tower Construction, Replacement of Public Library & City Facilities, Fire Hall/Ambulance Garage, Trails & Visitor Centers, Wastewater Treatment Pond, Renovation of Pavilion & Construction of a Trail, Downtown Development & Parking Ramp, Wade Stadium Repair and Upgrades, Wastewater Treatment Improvements, Edina Promenade Greenway Expansion. Second Street South Improvements, Downtown Improvement, Wastewater System Improvements, Curling Club Upgrades, Renovate Police, Fire, & Ambulance Services Building, Small Business Incubator, Giants Ridge Events Center, Malone Island Bridge & Sewer Replacement, Incubator Building/Industrial Park, Wastewater Treatment Improvements, Sanitary Sewer Collection System along Rainy Lake, Expand Public Library, Extending Municipal Infrastructure along La Prairie Ave, Wastewater Infrastructure Improvements, Street & Utilities Improvements for New Business Park, Renovate & Expand Mankato Civic Center, Rebuild Law Enforcement Training Facility, Streets, Sewer & Water Line Improvements, East Metro Public Safety Training Center, Public Safety Training Center Expansion, Regional Amateur Sports Center, Public Infrastructure, Redesign Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, Update Athletic Facilities, New 115kV Electric Transmission Line, Redevelop Riverside Center, Gneiss River Valley Development Project, Infrastructure along proposed County Highway, Infrastructure Improvements, STH 36 & Osgood Ave. – Redevelopment Area, Construct Police Building, Drinking Water Improvements, Wastewater Treatment Facility Improvements, Community Center Improvements, Business Incubator Construction, Welcome Avenue Industrial Park Improvements, Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant Site Acquisition & Remediation, Levee Road Area and Riverfront Improvements, TB Sheldon Theater Renovations, Design & Construct West Fire Station Training Facility, Material Recovery Facility, Road Reconstruction for Industrial Park Expansion, Mayo Civic Center – Convention Center Addition, New Grade School, Construct Public Safety Facility, Street Improvements , Fiber Optics Installation, Water main Improvements, River’s Edge Convention Center Expansion, Saint Paul Regional Ballpark, Fire Hall Renovation, Greenwood Street Underpass & Construction, Cross-Country Trail Improvements in Bloomington, Senior Citizens Healthy Living Center in Long Prairie, Improvements for Mixed-Use Development, Flood Mitigation-Storm Sewer Improvement, Infrastructure Development for Industrial Park, Public Health & Wellness Facility, Sports Dome Construction, Street Improvements, Expand Sports Center.
Demand Governor Dayton provide for your communities project(s) and not give all the DEED money to another overpriced unneeded model railroad.
Political Hack @ August 2, 2012
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BrianM @ June 29, 2012