No Wedding, No Womb: The Freedom Browne Edict
I see them more than I see my own kids.
During the summer break they come in when we open and sometimes leave when we close, if we haven’t kicked them out already. They lunch on junk food from the snack machines; the lucky ones sometimes get money to go to Subway or Chipotle. I know it’s safer for them to be there with us instead of hanging in the street to become future statistics. Still I feel sorry for them.
Not for their mothers, though. Years ago I would have had pity on the parents, suspecting maybe they are working 2 jobs that kept them from knowing where their children were or if they were eating well. It’s easier to prescribe that narrative to a situation that allows for nonchalant teens to be put in charge of sugar happy toddlers with ample speed to climb shelves, race around rooms and scream with sonic force. Imagining twelve year olds who walk around with bandanas in gang colors have asshole absent fathers and overworked mothers sounds like a better story. I don’t know whether these parents are working hard or just indifferent because I never see them. I just know by the age of 9 a lot of these kids are given more freedom than they should have and no family guidance to help them figure things out.
I’m not telling you things that you haven’t heard before or know to be true. The lack of stable, constant parental guidance is one of the reasons Chicago is reverting to the Wild West. It’s the reason why there’s black flight in Detroit. It’s the reason why the black male graduation rates are so low. There’s no one home to make sure the kids have something good to eat other than potato chips. There’s no one home to help with homework or to make sure they are even doing it. There’s no one home to say, “I don’t give a damn what Delon’s mama let him do, we don’t do that mess here!”
I can hear you saying now, “Oh yes, that’s right pick on black mothers. They are an easy target, especially the poor ones.” But it’s because I have been there that I can write these things, even though it pains me to do so. Upper middle class blacks don’t need this speech because they and their progeny are secure in their status. It’s the rest of us that do. Those of us who are hanging on to middle class comfort by a paycheck; those of us who are lower middle class and want to move up; those of us who are lower/working class folks who just want to get ahead. This message is for us. It’s not for those who want to stay hood because you’re gonna do what you wanna do anyway.
So no, I don’t feel sorry for the mothers because they chose to have the kids and they chose to have them alone. If you chose to have your child and not marry the father that’s cool since this is not a marry-your-baby-daddy diatribe. I like to think of this as an intervention piece. And in this intervention my goal is to get black women to stop having children outside the benefit of marriage.
So, now I can hear you saying, “What if I don’t wanna get married? Marriage ain’t for everybody.” You know what you’re right. Marriage, like college, is not for everyone. But neither is having children. If you don’t have a stable income and support (like someone to babysit when you aren’t there, someone showing up for open house and parent –teacher conferences, someone to make sure they get in bed at a reasonable hour and have their homework done beforehand) then maybe parenting is not for you. You can’t raise someone to live in society without a social network of people who share your values to build into your child, teaching them the culture and enforcing what’s right and wrong. (Pssst, if the streets are training your child, then that’s their social network).
“Everybody don’t plan ahead like that. Accidents happen.”
I really hate that excuse.
Kids are not accidents. An accident is when someone backs into your car in the parking garage or the cake pan slips from your hands onto the floor. An accident is something you can’t plan for. If you are having sex, even with the best protection, you can get pregnant. Condoms break, birth control pills fail, IUDs are used incorrectly. If there is a breech in anything the sperm will get out because it is programmed to search and impregnate that egg. There is always a chance, no matter how slight, that if you have sex then you might end up pregnant. That dude might be good in bed, but is he really father material? Is marriage in his plans? Does he want to marry you? How many kids does he have already? Where will you fit in that scheme?
“What if I was drunk and it just happened?”
It sounds like someone needs to stop reading this and go get some help. Go seek Al Anon or whatever, but you need more than the NWNW intervention talk.
I’m going to be hard on us because this affects us. Two weeks ago I learned about a 14 year old boy I knew who killed a 19 year old. It was told to me by another 14 year old who saw him in court as he was getting assigned to a foster home because he severely beat up his sister.
How many more of our kids need to be target practice for trigger happy hoodlums? How many more of our kids should be the reason tax payers decide to build a jail instead of a school?
“Why are you being so hard on the mothers and not on the fathers?”
Because we as women make the decisions of what happens to our bodies and our lives. This is 2010, not 1810. We are not slaves anymore. There’s no need for us to have a whole slew of babies to help pump up the economy. Unfortunately, a lot of us are still living like we are down on the plantation, popping out babies like we are birthing field hands. And the men are behaving like studs, waiting to go to the next farm to make more children there. We can decide what course our lives should take. Having a child is not the solution if you are afraid of adulthood, it doesn’t stave off responsibility. As black women, we have more opportunities now than we have ever had in our history. Having a child is a noble profession, but its hard work. How does a being a single mother fit into your plans?
“You sound like you want folks to go have abortions.”
Nope. Not saying that at all. I want people to think before they act. I want people to not get themselves in the predicament in the first place or, if they have one child, not to have a second one singularly. If the number of black births was to decrease yet overall their quality of life increases then that is what we should strive for as a community.
“But you sound like –“
No, I don’t.
“But you –“
No, really, I don’t. Its common sense what I and the others are saying on this topic. If you decide to go the single motherhood route make sure you have your job and village to help raise the kid. Sometimes people pick the wrong men to have children with and it can happen with the best planning. You can get married and find out the dude is a douche, I think all the mistress stories in entertainment news this year helps to illustrate that point. But lets do due diligence before getting knocked up with the biggest playa’s baby. Let’s make the commitment to find better boyfriends for future husbands so our future children can have men they can emulate in morality and behavior. Lets try to build a better black community one baby at a time.
So then not only I will be spending time with your kids, but then you might even like to enjoy spending time with them yourself.