Here are my thoughts - from the perspective of a Black man
I think the effort misses the core issues by a mile. While promoting the idea of marriage is a positive thing in general terms, it is not the main solution for the phenomenon of out-of-wedlock births & other problems facing so-called “Black America”. I have written before about Black women (and women more generally) falling in love with the idea of the marriage itself, rather than with their partners; and women being motivated for the wrong reasons to marry men who are not a good match. This problem seems to have come back again in this debate. The focus of the Black women who support this effort seems to be fixated on the idea that if they get married, all of their problems and the problems for the community will go away. They seem to be more concerned with flaunting the ring and the fact that they are married. Little attention seems to be placed on the quality of the man giving them the ring.
One of the main problems that young black women have is that many are terrible when it comes to picking good men or even knowing what qualities they should be looking for. To be frank, many (and this may be a byproduct of not having fathers around) have no idea how to choose a man…. And have no point of reference for even recognizing what a good family man looks like. This is the core of the matter ladies and gentleman. If you are getting a ring from a sleazeball… I don’t think being married on paper is going to help you much. If you are marrying a playboy, a deadbeat, a womanizer, a bum, a man who can’t hold down a job, a man with little education, a man with multiple children from several different women, a man in & out of the criminal justice system, a man involved in risky behavior, a man who isn’t responsible, a man who doesn’t really want to commit to you and who doesn’t have a sense of family values… then all of the rings and weddings in the world are not going to save you or the wider “Black community”. That’s like gift wrapping a soiled diaper…. It’s still crap. The same goes for the kinds of relationships that many are suggesting should be bonded by marriage. The ring and marriage only serve as exquisite wrapping paper for garbage. It’s like the images of folks carrying looted TV’s in New Orleans during Katrina when there was no electricity and they needed food and water. It just does not make sense and fails to get to the heart of the problem. There are a set of fundamental priorities in Black culture that will have to change.
Black women have to take responsibility for their own choices. The Blacksnob, an extraordinary black woman and blogger pointed this out quite nicely, although indirectly - one of the few Black women online to do so. Many of the blogs run by Black women are sanctuaries for those who somehow clump all Black men together…and trash them all. But luckily there are a few who take the time to differentiate men from boys, educated men from the uneducated/less educated, the wayward player from the committed or family man, the thug from the Thomas DuBois or cleancut, and the deadbeats from the hardworking and responsible (although these men may not be in abundance).
Black women have to look at deeper issues concerning their values, the choices they are making (especially choosing bad men), etc if they want to really deal with this problem. Too many Black women see people like Beyonce (and others in Black urban circles- particularly in Hip Hop- and yes I hate them all), as their role models. They don’t understand the core underlying problem - that if Beyonce (or any other figure in that world) is your role model then you are already on the wrong track and you have some work to do. They don’t seem to understand that if they don’t fundamentally change their underlying value system and learn what to look for in a mate, then the problems are not going to go away… they will only be masked for some. If a man is a deadbeat, a cheater, doesn’t want to be a father, doesn’t have the attributes or isn’t responsible enough to be a father, then being married to you isn’t going to change those things. If you continue to choose bad men, the problems of fatherless homes will not go away. The rate of out of wedlock births might be slowed artificially (even if this NWNW effort were wildly successful), but the underlying problems of fatherlessness and Black cultural rot won’t change, because those men, who really aren’t men and really aren’t fathers, are going to leave the home situation anyway not far down the road.
Some might say… well, there aren’t enough marriageable Black men. I agree. I say, don’t be afraid to date out. I support the idea of interracial dating for Black men and women. There should be no racial barriers when it comes to dating and relationships. But even when you date out, there is still the issue of knowing how to choose a good mate. It still applies. I am annoyed by the suggestion that some Black bloggers have made that dating white men automatically equates to dating better men. I know plenty of white men who are ____heads. But will the pool be better? In all likelihood yes. The trick is…. finding those men of other racial groups who will actually want you. Look up the OKCupid survey that was done recently. This report looked at dating behavior online and broke down response rates by race. It wasn’t pretty for Black women. I will just say to that… it should be another red flag for Black women telling them that they may want to figure out why things are the way they are…why they get this kind of reaction.
1). The solution for Black women is not that complicated. Learn how to identify a good partner to begin with. If you want a guy that you find at a nightclub or you want someone to screw around with, fine. Do that. But don’t look for the same kind of guy when you want a man who will be a good father and husband. You need a different criteria for that. You have to first understand how to identify him, and then you have to know how to get him. If you don’t know how to do it…ask your 75 year old aunt, ask your grandmother or great grandmother, spend more time around those good uncles, grandfathers…those who are more socially conservative and who are family men. No, not all are saints. But you will find more family men there to help you establish a blueprint. You won’t find him @ the nightclubs where the playboys gather.
2). Stop using Beyonce & hip hop culture as your model for anything, let alone as your model for family.
3). Take advantage of contraception and don’t take a risk with a man who isn’t your husband or soon to be.
4). Don’t flirt with pregnancy unless you know you are willing and able to be a good parent, and until you have completed college and are in a position to raise a child.
5). Women (and this is especially the case for Black women in general) are money driven, status driven creatures. The measures they often use for determining the quality of a mate are completely warped. Just because he has a nice car or plays for an NFL team….doesn’t make him a good man, let alone a good father. Stop emulating The Real Housewives & The Bachelorette (because that image isn’t a very good reflection of actual life in America).
6). Marry a man who wants to be married.
This isn’t rocket science.
Will this effort be successful? It depends on what the yardstick is for measuring success. Will it literally solve the problem of out-of-wedlock births? No. But the aim of those women who started the effort is to get a conversation going on how to deal with the problem. From The Grio:
The goal of this project or should I say movement is to force a dialogue in the black community about why this is happening and how we turn the corner on solutions that create a positive, loving and nurturing home for black children.
Regardless of the measure, I hope the effort is successful, because the intent seems to be positive. Based on the goal of getting a conversation started...it may already be a success. And I am all for efforts that are positive. Unfortunately, the young women who need to hear it/ read it, may not be reading the blogs taking part in the campaign. (If the problems pointed out were addressed and if the campaign was modified to reflect changes) It would be great if this effort could move into the schools , churches, and youth groups.... perhaps create an app for it... take the effort to where the young women are. I had been calling for something similar to this years ago... but no Black bloggers wanted to go anywhere with it at the time. And of course, my focus would have been noticeably different, as I have mentioned in this post. But I am glad someone (Black women in particular) is at least talking about doing something.