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It really does take a village...

It's my first post for What About Our Daughters while Gina, our fabulous BlogMother, is on hiatus. I'm in fine company tag-teaming with my Twitterific "psychic twin" Faith of Acts of Faith Blog. For the most part I'll be cross-posting from my own blog (hitmebackblog.blogspot.com) but for today I had to add my verse to this tone poem about Raising Him Alone.

Just over a month after my nephew's 5th birthday, his father was murdered.

My nephew's father and my sister were not married -- she'd been there, done that and didn't want to do it again -- but they had a strong, loving relationship and were also effectively co-parenting my nephew.

It would have been very easy for my sister to fall completely apart in the aftermath of the murder. First, there was the trauma of another brother -- her love -- being lost to gun violence. Then the timing compounded other traumas our family was managing -- D's death came just a year after the sudden, back-to-back deaths of our mother and grandmother, and less than two months after the Sept. 11th tragedy.

Finally, my sister had to contemplate and navigate raising this impossibly gorgeous, curious and precocious 5-year-old "alone."

Her foundation was shaken and cracked to the quick -- but not completely broken. With the considerable support of family, friends and faith she has raised that 5-year-old into an impossibly handsome, thoughtful and brilliant 12-year-old. A boy who now towers over us and greets us with an increasingly deep tenor "what up?"

An academically gifted boy who is enrolled in his school's honors program. A boy on-the-brink-of-manhood. Raised by a committed, single, Black, college-educated mother and supported by a community of family and friends dedicated to his development and well-being.

Imagine that.

I tell this story only because I found myself floored by the summations of my loveable but flamethrowing fellow bloggers Faith and Gina about the Raising Him Alone organization.

Nothing I've read makes me believe they're glamorizing or even encouraging single motherhood. We can and absolutely should advocate for fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer teen pregnancies, fewer Black children being raised by single parents below the poverty line. But we shouldn't knock an organization providing resources, a clearinghouse and a community to dialogue about what's here and what is.

Because for every functional single mother like my sister is one like my cousin. If Ronald Reagan could have drawn a picture of the "welfare queen" he demonized so many years ago, it would be my cousin M -- who became a teen mom with 5 kids altogether by 5 different daddies. One of the daddies is dead and the ones who are living are worthless. M herself has never adequately cared for her children, all boys and one girl. M has left that largely to her grandparents, her childrens' great-grandparents.

There are a flood of reasons why Cousin M's life has tumbled into the very prototype of dysfunction -- but the bottom line is that her utter inability to properly parent has directly impacted the community "big C" -- school system, court system and what's left of the welfare system -- but it's also been a drain on the "little c", the community of my family that has had little choice except to be drawn into the economic and emotional drama.

I'd rather the sister who is at her wits end turn to Raising Him Alone than to put her hands on her child. I'd rather the sister who is lonely with no adequate support turn to Raising Him Alone than succumb to some random man for sex to fill the void -- and possibly become pregnant again.

I'd rather the sister who is already a single parent have an open, resourceful, non-judgmental outlet to help her get herself and keep herself together and if Raising Him Alone strikes a chord, so be it.

Organizers seem to have put a lot of thought in the kind of information and resources they share. My only quibble is with their recommended booklist. I'd love to see a lot less Jawanza Kunjufu and Kevin Powell, and a lot more Healing Hands by neurosurgeon Ben Carson (son of a single mother), more Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (raised by a single mother, and his grandparents), more Autobiography of Malcolm X, more Manchild in the Promised Land, and James Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain and The Fire Next Time. More WEB DuBois' The Souls of Black Folk

I'd rather let them know what I want to see as opposed to dogging them for what's not there.

To suggest that marriage is a panacea for ails the Black community is disingenuous. I believe that, as Nikki Giovanni wrote so long ago, that "Black love is Black wealth." But if marriage were truly the community cure-all, the divorce rate wouldn't be as high as it is among all races and classes of Americans.

I think it's more important to provide Black children with a strong, stable, supportive, functional, non-violent circle of family and communities with the resources their parents and/or guardians need to make that happen.

Let's not forget that "it takes a village to raise a child" really was a wise and revered African proverb long before Hillary Clinton co-opted it.

Supporting my Single Mama Sistas,


Reader Comments (44)

I'm supporting Single Mothers TOO... by giving them permission to feel ENTITLED to a co-parent. We aren't doing single mothers any favors by reinforcing the idea that it is normal or acceptable to be forced to raise a child on our own. Black women are NOT superwomen.

I feel like I am in Episode of Star Wars where Senator Palpatine has convinced everyone that he has their best interests at hears and is "looking out for them" when in fact he's manipulating them for their own purposes.

All medicine doesn't taste good and a whole lot of things that "go down easy" are horrible for your health.

Sure it feels GREAT to have a slick PR campaign called "Raising Him Alone", but you're gonna end up with a cavity.

When we've gotten a OOW birthrate of 98% where exactly will these "families" making up the village be?

MARRIAGE is the tie that binds families together. Many of you are relying on families being held together by a marriage that occurred 3 generations ago. What about 3 generations from now?

This all feels great NOW, but look down the road three generations later. You're depleting the "village." There are going to be entire SWATHS of society where there won't be an adult male in sight because everybody's Raising Him Alone.

If the village was a forest and families were trees, what are y'all going to do when you get through chopping all the trees in HALF? You're wearing the HELL out of "the Village." If the Village were a spotted owl, environmental activists would be chaining themselves to trees right about now. The beloved "Village" is about to become an endangered species. The "village" doesn't crop up by osmosis.

I support single mothers. I support single mothers by telling them to REJECT this propaganda that Black women aren't entitled to HELP- from the father's of their children, not some "village" she had to cobble together.

Everybody wants to talk about the village, but nobody wants to maintain the Village. Nobody wants to pay property taxes in the Village. Nobody wants to do strategic planning for the Village. Everybody LOVES the village, but don't want any ordinances in the Village. They don't want any zoning in "the Village." The don't want the Village to have a homeowners association that enforces "The Village"'s rules and regulations. They don't want police to patrol the Village or enforce the laws of the village or throw those who commit violence against the Village in jail.

You take for granted that "the Village" will always be intact. When in fact MY GENERATION is living in the Village our Great Grand Parents and Grand Parents built and we're unwilling to make any investments in the infrastructure of the village.

One day, this all important "Village" will collapse on itself and the people who will pay the HEAVIEST price will be the people who rely on the "Village" the most.

Yeah, it take a "village" unfortunately there won't be a village in about three generations, why? because three generations of Black children won't know how to build a freaking Village. We have a Village because somebody fought to create maintain and preserve it. They were so good at constructing the village that despite our best efforts to burn it to the ground, the Village has some ever dwindling huts intact. They really knew how to build things back in the day. They built their village with STONE. We're building our modern village with particle board.

Ironically, I don't need "the village" ( I have a tribe called a FAMILY) yet I appear to be the most concerned about it.

July 14, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Last I checked single mother are already..single mothers.

What are you telling me I don't have to raise my child alone?

I'm doing that already....okay...so what are you telling me?

The "Raising Him Alone" was/is directed towar women who are ALREADY directing him alone....NOT encouraging people to go and get a child so they can raise him alone?

So why are you objecting to women who've done it giving advice to women who are currently doing it?

Was there a portion of the seminar that said, "Go get knocked up and not have the father involved so you can come to our seminar and here what we have to say on single parenthood?"

What are you telling us single mothers exactly?

Go get a husband?

I can't speak for other single moms, but if I really wanted a husband I'd have one by now.

Don't get knocked up?

Too late for that.

That our kids are going to be a hot mess?

Sorry, but I'm college educated/advanced degree having hands on mom with an and my daughter isn't likely to be anyone's statistic.

Now if your message is to encourage young girls not to be single moms...okay great...no one argues with you there.

But the idea that single mothers don't want to hear from other single mothers on "Raising Him Alone," is a bit of a stretch.

Unless you can show were their promoting popping out more babies sans husbands I don't see what you're so upset about.

If single mommas want to get married I'm sure they will work that out alone...but until then I'm sure they need advice on doing it alone as well.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Again, this isn't about MARRIAGE. But you keep intentionally inserting MARRIAGE into the mix to muddy the water. This is about CHILD ABANDONMENT.

The PANEL which was the subject of the original post was promoted with the following description "a panel discussion featuring prominent women who have successfully raised their internationally known celebrity sons alone."

NOBODY raises a child alone, not even these college-educated women with degrees. Its wrong to send the message of give women the expectation that they children can be raised alone. You aren't raising your child alone.

But keep wrestling with your issues related to marriage.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Why are YOU objecting to promoting a competing message that women are ENTITLED to expect to NOT raise their children alone.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

And more thing, so many folks talk about how they're "supporting single mothers" but they aren't.

They spend time judging and telling single mothers how we're irresponsible, selfish and how our children are going to be knocked up whores or imprisoned dead beats.

And I won't go into how I was called all manner of whores and bad mommas b/c I "allegedly" bring all manner or men around my child and how she "allegedly" cries for her daddy every night.

None of that is true mind u, but that's what educated black folk who are "supporting singe mothers," felt the need to tell me.

Now folk are entitled to their feelings on the issue...I'm cool with that...and I'm supportive of any program etc. that encourages young women NOT to be single mothers...I'm not in the least suggesting otherwise.

But all this outrage over single moms talking to other single moms on being GOOD moms, kills me.

What would you rather us single moms do...hide under a rock...matyr ourselves on the alter of misery to be a shining example of what not to do?

What if we're not miserable?

What if we aren't "making do?"

What if we're happy and thriving?

What if (god forbid) we have smart, happy well adjusted children?

What if we have advance and professional degrees and we did it with the baby on our hip?

We aren't to impart that information to other single moms...for fear of what...they'll go get knocked up again...not likely?

This seminar doesn't appear to be about the moms, but about folk trying to offer better homes to the kids they have...there should be more seminars, not less...single moms need help too.

The cats out the bag you can't put it back in.

And once again I say...all for encouraging women not to be single moms...all for women find love in whatever form/color they can.

The two aren't mutually exclusive.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Why are YOU objecting to promoting a competing message that women are ENTITLED to expect to NOT raise their children alone.

I'm NOT objecting to that.

Why are you objecting to a message that tells single moms on how to raise successful sons?

You're assuming single women don't know we "don't have to raise him alone."

Yeah...we know that.

Now what?

We're also not encouraging anyone to get knocked up and "raise him alone."

So where's the issue?

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Well I also have to weigh in on this. I got a response from someone at the Raising Him Alone snakeoil salesman organization. They've apparently been at this for 15 years. They said they want to "engage" fathers. Well I'd like to engage Enrique Iglesias but what does that have to do with holding men accountable?

Instead they've misdirected their efforts at trying to convince black women it's okay to be alone and overburdened. I still can't believe people would defend an organization they never even heard of to justify the mass abandonment of black women and children.

It should be every woman's right to be able to marry and have a stable family structure. This isn't happening with an 80% + OOW birth rate, 70% + single rate for black women. This isn't about a woman in a committed relationship who chooses not to marry for whatever reason. This is for all those girls and women who don't think they DESERVE it because of all the above-listed stats.

I'm not married and who knows if I will. But I don't have kids to care for. I don't think it's "cute" to be a single mother either. I am not Angelina with millions of dollars and an army of nannies and bodyguards. People tend to parrot what they see. If they see poor quality relationships they'll continue down that path. Let's not obfuscate. Children want intact families. I believe it was rock star Sting who publicly spoke about why he and his wife finally married after happily co-habitating for years. Their children came home from school after being called "bastards" by other kids and wondered why their parents weren't married. So see even if wealthy, white famous families certain basic human norms DO matter.

It isn't about being married to anyone for the sake of saying you're married either. It's about choosing a mate of substance. Besides I will say it once and again, if LGBTs are still being denied the right to marry when they want to, who are we to throw it away so callously?

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfdow

And more thing, so many folks talk about how they’re “supporting single mothers” but they aren’t.

They spend time judging and telling single mothers how we’re irresponsible, selfish and how our children are going to be knocked up whores or imprisoned dead beats.

And once again the needs of ADULTS take precedence over the needs of children. Because you don't want to feel "judged" you would rather others be silent by telling women that is is OKAY to reject the notion that it is normal or acceptable for women to be forced to parent alone. This isn't about YOU. this isn't about what you were called. This isn't about how you managed to be happy, healthy, and whole. This isn't about attempting to deny YOU anthing.

This is about rebuking this mentality that Black women are SUPER HUMAN! We're not. We're just as vulnerable as other groups of women, yet statistically, their children aren't being abandoned at the same rate... YET.
So I am sorry if you feel judged. This isn't about "putting the cat in the bag." Children aren't Chia pets. They can't be put "back in a bag."

No, its not impossible for single mothers to be happy. Of course they can, this isn't about whether or not you can survive raising him alone, its about whether or not you should HAVE TO.

Just wondering where the "Why You Left Her to Raise Him Alone" workshop is?

So I realize you can't take "yourself" out of the equation, but I'm not going to shut up because you've taken it upon yourself to be offended and feel judged. That's a personal problem.

This isn't about your unique situation, this is about a larger trend.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

But keep wrestling with your issues related to marriage.

Where did I mention marriage?

By "alone" they're talking about sans the child's father...or are you going to tell me that's not what they mean?

Once again...why are you objecting to single mothers talking to other single mothers on how to raise a successful child sans their father?

'Cause that's what you're objecting to right?

Child abandonment...they aren't encouraging it...they're saying if the father isn't around here's some tips on how to do this and do it well...what would you rather them say...this is how you get a man to be involved with his child if he's decided that's not what he wants?

Would that make you feel better?

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ


Gem you crack me up...

I don't feel judged.

I'm not offended.

I don't need validation from you or anyone else on MY life decisions.

My point is and remains....IF you're ALREADY a single mother WHY do you find it so OFFENSIVE that other SINGLE MOTHERS will tell women on how to be GOOD single mothers and RAISE healthy boys?

I'm a single mom...so I get the need for the seminar.

You're the one who can't take yourself or your ideals out of the equation.

The seminar isn't about ENCOURAGING single motherhood.

It's about talking to already single women about raising their kids.

Not bringing new ones int the world.

Not glamorizing single motherhood.

Just giving them advice on how to get it done.

If you truly supported single moms you wouldn't be having a hissy fit about seminar that isn't for you.


July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Where did I mention marriage?

Now you konw its bad when ppl can't remember what they wrote on a blog less than 24 hours ago.

Unless you can show were their promoting popping out more babies sans husbands I don’t see what you’re so upset about

and again
If single mommas want to get married I’m sure they will work that out alone
and again
folk would know the unemployable nature of most black men is why they marriage rates are so low.

and again
As a matter of fact the marriage rates in the black community are directly proportional to the loss of manufacturing jobs that begin in the 70’s.

Men without jobs or who are underemployed are not going to get married. Period.

I could go on with about 2 more dozen quotes from you in the last two threads about marriage.

This isn't about ME feeling better. Its about Black mothers feeling better by not having more propaganda sent their way indicating that they are not entitled to help from their children's fathers. Its their right.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

The seminar isn’t about ENCOURAGING single motherhood.

IF I get a car and kill someone on the way home, my ''intention" wasn't to kill them, but it makes them no less dead. I am sure the "intentions" were good. I think the message is BAD.

"Intentions" are irrelevant, "outcomes" are relevant. You want to champion the "intent" I want to emphasize the "outcome" of a slick national public relations campaign reinforcing the idea that its possible to raise a child alone. IT IS NOT! Might as well call it, raising him with unicorns. They don't exist. This MYTH that women raise children alone is destructive no matter how good the intent.

You're all up in here riding and dyign on behalf of single mothers, but what about the single mothers that feel like failures because they are being told its possible to "Raise Him Alone."

Raising him Alone is just as bad as "Women Can Have It All" they are both purportedly about empowerment and the both do the exact opposite. They actually undermine women by peddling something that does not exist and then women feel inadequate because they can't meet a false ideal.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

For every single mama success story there's a sister skrimping to get by because she's convinced herself that she can "make it on her own" and she "don't need no man" when it should be perfectly acceptable for her to walk to the nearest courthouse and slap a child support lien on the abandoned father.

You're not thinking about them. You don't care about them.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

"..., its about whether or not you should HAVE TO. "

Okay, but they ARE.

"Have to" is irrelevant if you're already in the situation.

So what you suggesting the women go badger the absent fathers into caring for their kids?

Yeah...'cause that works.


You can't see past your own issues...whatever they may be...no one's saying be a single mom, they are saying here's how to do if you are.

Now pushing that message to folks who aren't single parents make sense...but telling single moms they don't "have to" raise their kids alone is silly when they already are.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

For every single mama success story there’s a sister skrimping to get by because she’s convinced herself that she can “make it on her own” and she “don’t need no man” when it should be perfectly acceptable for her to walk to the nearest courthouse and slap a child support lien on the abandoned father.

You’re not thinking about them. You don’t care about them.

Are you telling me the seminar told women not to go to court a slap him with a child support settlement?

Did they say that?

Or are you saying that?

And lets be clear: You take his a** to court and get a child support settlement.

Happy now?

Oh and you know me so well to tell me what I care about?

Just 'cause I don't agree doesn't mean I don't care. I just live in the real world were "have to" is irrelevant and "is/are" reigns supreme.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ


I know many here have problems with organized religion in general, but I see this program/series/conference as a type of study group. Just like in Bible study/Sunday school type settings you have leaders who help impart knowledge to the group. They offer encouragement, guidance, and support to those in attendance.

Most single mothers are well aware they do not have to do have to do it alone, but many will for a least part of her child's life. Why is having a conference helping them navigate that journey so objectable? It's possible to both assist the singe mothers/children who are already here AND to continue to reinforce that our lives are not ideal situations for raising children.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterelysian essence

“have to” raise their kids alone is silly when they already are.

Spoken like a truly PRIVILEGED black woman. But in the real world, where human beings live, not this mythical utopia where you dwell, it is QUITE COMMON for women not to pursue even the minimum they are due under the law. Perhaps I've spent more time in a courthouse than you, but far from your ivory tower, there are plenty of women who ERRONEOUSLY believe that they are not entitled or it is some how a badge of honor to "Raise him alone" when they are entitled to at the very least court-ordered financial support.

So whatever, oh-privileged-one. For all this blathering about judging, it tis I who has compassion for single mothers and you who has contempt. Everybody isn't you. You can't see past your own issues :)

but I'm going to sleep now so argue with yourself for the next 6 hours.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Now you konw its bad when ppl can’t remember what they wrote on a blog less than 24 hours ago.

Alright Ms. literal...

I was talking about this thread in my original comment NOT the previous thread...an if you remember so well I said the child abandonment issue and the marriage issue were one in the same...you're the one who keeps splitting hairs.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

Good point about the village burning down. Just in my career I saw that situation come to play more and more. When I first started out, it was fairly easy to find a grandmama, Big Mama or some other relative to take a child. Over time, placement got harder and harder. There were fewer and fewer intact families to provide support. People ask all the time why there are so many black kids in the system and I explain that when we pick up kids from other groups, usually within a generation or so, we can find an intact family to take the child. This is so not the case with black children. Time and time again, I encountered families where all the siblings, sometimes going back a generation or more came from fragmented families. There is no village anymore, or at least there won't be one for long. Then what will these people do?

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

@roslyn you slipped one in right before I logged off.
Yes, and we're just talking about the impact of dissolving familial ties on the Village. We havent' said anything about the affect of the ridiculous high school drop out rates on the Village. We haven't talked about the affect on the Village when all of these 45 & 55 year old men who've been in federal prison start getting released back into the village in about 5 to 7 years. We aren't talking about the HIV AID rates among Black women.

All these people talking about relying on something that is already gasping for breath.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

But why set up RHA in a dichotomy that implies that it's either a dad-excluded program or no program at all. It's like making someone choose between rotten food and no food...but not telling them the grocery store is right across the street.

There should definitely be support for single moms. But it's not really support when it sets Mom up to do a job she can not do. There's been plenty of research done that shows that kids absolutely need role models that are like themselves in the most basic and superficial way. Even if the people in their lives love them and care for them, a child needs someone to model the adult they will become.

So even though mom is giving 210%, boys are at risk by definition if there is no male role model present. And although girls don't grow up to be men, they are also at risk if their first male interaction comes from sexual/romantic interest, rather than filial interest. This is basic child psychology, with solid evidence to support it. And to the child, it doesn't matter why they're not getting the role models: paternal employability, maternal desires for a better legal match - none of these are of interest from the child's perspective. It's not a value statement, just a factual one: a critical requirement has not been met.

And there are limits to the mother's influence in getting the father to come on board.

Here's the thing: I firmly believe that all resources are finite. Interest, money, time, people, focus, attention -- these things have a definite sell-by date. And when resources are poorly spent, it takes away from the materials you have to actually fix the problem.

By failing to incorporate a strategy that also targets men to be role models for their children (or child relatives) RHA's foundation is built from rotten wood. It's a flaw at the basic, fundamental level. So if they're really committed to helping mothers, they'll stop standing on principle and they'll do the most basic quality check to see if what they want to achieve has actually been done.

For the level of resources and time under their belt, they should be doing better, and it's not wrong to ask them to meet competency standards. When Mom is struggling, you don't give her weak help. You give her the best help you can.

This is an organization that's 15 years old? So this money, the time, the energy and intellect of the founders was spent NOT answering the biggest problem on how to how to raise their sons. Holy crap, we put a man on the moon in less time than that. Yes, they've answered other questions, but not the one about the great big elephant in the room. All that time. All that energy. Bu none of it spent in the area where it would make the most difference.

Again, resources are finite. There are other organizations that are targeting fathers along with giving help to mothers, and these organizations can use the attention, intellect, time, energy that Mom is giving to RHA, or that our tax dollars are supporting, or that get community promotion to get city-wide kickoffs, or the philanthropy grants given by their donors. Especially that last one. How many programs that included male and female leadership didn't get funding? Or that never make it off the ground?

And then the one that gets the slice of the pie is the program running the same tired game that Mom has to be the masculine role model, or that she has to humble herself because Dad's ego is "too fragile" to initiate contact? (quote taken from RHA). How does this help her?

A specific example: telling mom to initiate one-on-one contact between son and dad...just perfect. So Mom can bear the brunt of the heartbreak when Dad decides to pull a no-show for the event he was too disinterested to initiate in the first place. We're being hoodwinked here. Can Mom afford to have the wool pulled over her eyes? Can she afford to follow RHA's implication that the best use of her time is spent on every single strategy besides the ones that get her male role models for her child? I'm not talking about marriage; just male role models period? Can our grandchildren afford the mentality that implies that men just don't need to be there, because Mom can do all the work? Do our daughters deserve that?

Make no mistake: these boys will find masculine role models from somewhere, if they have to seek them out on their own. A group like RHA could, by expanding their focus to target men as well as women, guide male mentorship and leadership so these fatherless boys find role models who are both engaged and positive. Or, Mom could use RHA's current advice and get...well, there's nothing on RHA about that. So Mom gets nothing.

I'm not saying that the whole initiative needs to be demolished, because there is some general parenting comment that is useful. But rotten fruit also has caloric value and sometimes we even enjoy the taste, so the fact that there's some good to be found doesn't negate the obvious problems.

And just because people are struggling, doesn't mean they deserve substandard care. I don't care if the whole world tells you to be shamed; if you take the initiative to improve your life or the lives of your children, then the people providing that care need to do right by you. RHA is not meeting that standard, and regardless of whatever else they are doing right - they are not meeting that standard. But there are other places that are, and those are the programs that should get the resources. Or RHA can also stop following a false dichotomy and put those programs in place that they say they’re going to do, but haven’t, in spite of 15 years of activity.

I had actually told myself I wasn't going to write about this topic anymore, but my level of frustration on this topic is so high, I can barely contain myself.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranna (tertiary#anna)

Sabrina, thank you for injecting some sanity into the frothing hysteria. Single parenting is hard (I know, my mother did it and I was not always the world's easiest child), and I have to give props to any organization trying to help a sister out. Men are not the solution to all problems. Sometimes that non-stop search for a parenting partner does more harm than good. If you already have a child and you're raising him/her on your own, then by all means, seek out an organization that will help you do it better.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterCecca

Can our grandchildren afford the mentality that implies that men just don’t need to be there, because Mom can do all the work? Do our daughters deserve that?

They don't get that point. The "I Can Do It All on My Own. Alone" Crew don't want to hear about passing on this "mentality" to children. Its all about THEM.

@cecca Again, this isn't about YOU! It isn't about your personal situation. This is about a LIE-that women can raise children ALONE. That is a myth.

To everybody else - This isn't about MARRIAGE its about child abandonment. Why does every discussion in the Black community have to go back to Black dating and marriage? This is about the fact that this program reinforces the idea that women can parent children without a coparent. That's an unrealistic expectation in a society geared towards two-adult households.

But keep on thinking this is about you "needing a man" for YOU! Its about children being raised by a Mother who has realistic expectations about her limitations.
Raising Him Alone is just a modern day version of "I'm Every Woman"- Well that's great for a Chaka song, but not the best strategy for raising children.

I have to give props to any organization trying to help a sister out.
Even if they are helping her over a cliff?

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

Is this just an issue over wording? When they said raise him alone, I don't think they meant literally with no other family members. Even if you have a supportive family you are still referred to as a single mom, single means in relative to the father. The Eagle Academy is an all boys high school, was this just some kind of parenting workshop for the parents? I mean if thats the case than the kid is already here

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNaima

Is this just an issue over wording? When they said raise him alone, I don’t think they meant literally with no other family members. Even if you have a supportive family you are still referred to as a single mom, single means in relative to the father. The Eagle Academy is an all boys high school, was this just some kind of parenting workshop for the parents? I mean if thats the case than the kid is already here

You and the author of this post seem to be the only ones with some sense.

The seminar didn't say - don't get child support.

The seminar didn't say don't get help from family and friends.

The seminar didn't say pass the "super woman" mentality on to other black women.

It said how to "raise him alone" - alone - being without his father...for a child that's already here.

People and their agendas...always get in the eay of real prgresss an addressing real concerns.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

None of you people commenting about RHA had ever heard of this organization before we talked about it so stop trying to pretend you know what it's all about. It's been around for 15 years and hasn't made one dent in changing anything for the better. As I stated in the other thread I got one of their hacks "explaining" what they do in the comment section on my blog. They "engage" fathers. They don't hold anyone accountable for the abandonment. They are telling women to Raise Him Alone. Otherwise it would be called "Reclaiming Your Rightful Role As Mother with a Partner" or "Getting a Village to Help You Raise Him". What is so hard to understand? It says Raising Him Alone because that's what they expect. It's what they know to be true. The OOW birth rate went from 35% in 1965 to 80% in 2009. What has changed? What has improved? How is it better today than yesterday? We have a black President now so everything is supposed to be gravy, right?

JJ you need to start a blog seriously because you've used up so much space defending this. Then you can have your own forum discussing all the ways RHA works with all the stats and success stories as proof. Oh wait....there aren't any. Treading water isn't swimming.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfdow


I have several blogs...so what your point?

You're using someone else's blog to make simplistic, nonsensical arguments, using another blogger's terminology about topics I think you know very little about.


July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

JJ: I am an INVITED poster. You have been ALLOWED into this space. Since you do not have the basic common decency to conduct yourself in a respectful manner you may leave. Disagreeing is one thing being rude will not be tolerated.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfdow

JJ said:

The seminar didn’t say - don’t get child support.

The seminar didn’t say don’t get help from family and friends.

The seminar didn’t say pass the “super woman” mentality on to other black women.

It said how to “raise him alone” - alone - being without his father…for a child that’s already here.

People and their agendas…always get in the eay of real prgresss an addressing real concerns.

RESPONSE: Though the seminar may have not have said explicitly don't sue for child support the title alone implies that it is NORMAL for a woman to raise a MALE child alone. It is not only abnormal but also damaging. How is this boy supposed to learn how to be a man without having manhood modeled for him on the regular? BY HIS FATHER. or grandfather. I know plenty of single mamas who scrimp and scrape by instead of getting court-ordered child support. Or they accept a nickle here and there from the deadbeat father. The problem is that again the conference is directed toward the women and not the men, where the problem lies. It says that it is ok for women to raise their children alsone. Yes, this is directed to women who are already single mothers, but it only adds to the belief amongst most blacks (AAs) that single motherhood is normal when in reality it is dysfunctional.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTasha212

Another point I'd like to make about this whole 'it takes a village' meme. It annoys the crap out of me for one simple reason; folk want 'the village' to help take care of them, but they don't want to adhere to the rules and social constrictions of 'the village.' Living in 'the village' is hard. How do I know? I grew up in the village, small-town north Alabama. Folk who read my first book saw a fairly accurate, though fictionalized account of what life in the village is like. People emailed me saying that it was unrealistic that she was so concerned about what friends and family thought of her. That everyone was all up in business. That's what the village is about. In the village you're not going to have a man laying up in your house, because somebody's going to question you about it. They're going to question how you dress, how you act and how you feed your children. You'll be reprimanded by the villagers if you fail to speak to the greeter at Wal-Mart. There are standards in the village, that's how it remains a village.

Oh no, that's not what we want at all. We want the village to have our back while we run around like Cartman, "I do what I want." Sorry, that's absolute nonsense. No village can survive when all its inhabitants are running around doing what they want. That's why our villages are burning to the ground now. We used up our grandmamas and Big Mamas raising multiple generations of children while we did what we want. Now they're gone and not coming back. People are too busy doing what they want to build another village, and how do you build a village with a better than 70% OOW rate? You can't.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

This. Right here

folk want ‘the village’ to help take care of them, but they don’t want to adhere to the rules and social constrictions of ‘the village.’

The village demands (should anyway) that males take care of their children. The village demands that those who receive assistance listen to those who are doling said assistance out.

The village talk that this thrown around annoys because the village is composed of smaller units. Those units are families. Those families have to be intact or they can't support the village. Mass male child abandonment undermines the village and thus undermines it ability to support those who need help.

Community systems are developed to help the small minority in RARE emergency situations. They are not intended to and cannot ameliorate widespread destruction.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

^^^ ouch .."talk that is thrown around annoys me...

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLaJane Galt

There’s been plenty of research done that shows that kids absolutely need role models that are like themselves in the most basic and superficial way.

And more so black kids than anyone else Anna.

This is one reason why I am convinced that black folks no longer organize themselves around noble ideas of black community (the kind that is strong and healthy not one that is just 'there'), because if they did, there would be no need to spell things out and struggle to 'educate' folks about taking the route that would give black children a fighting chance in the face of racism and all kinds of forces waiting to devour them.

Trust me, it would occur naturally like a 'ping' to folks, how they ought to live, and do things and they would do over and beyond to secure the desired outcome, rather you get folks essentially fighting tooth and nail, to be allowed to do the barest minimum on behalf of their children.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterHalima

@Ros I agree.

I always say to people that "I don't give a f**k" attitude gets you "I don't give a f**k" results, nothing.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLD

Where, in any of this, did I say that Black women shouldn't co-parent or that we are "superwomen"? To the contrary, I'm glad that Raising Him Alone exists as a resource for those women who want or need it. "Raising him alone" in my estimation is a marketing term; I don't know anybody, let alone a single parent, who parents alone. Parenting -- at least among many people of color -- has always been about a community of relevant people invested in a child's well-being. There should absolutely be people demanding that men be responsible co-parents. Meanwhile, we need substantive support and resources for women who don't have that, period.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterFortitude1913

“Raising him alone” in my estimation is a marketing term;

Yes, to you and me its a marketing term, unfortunately far too many people take it as a mentality. They really do THINK the ought to be able to raise him alone.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

This is a great post. I think you touched upon some of what I was trying to say in yesterdays post but maybe didn't get out as eloquently as you did. We need to support the lives of children that are already here. Influencing someone's personal choices is noble, but completely different from thinking about the role of the collective and what responsibilities we have to society as it currently exist.

I do feel there are woman who don't feel entitled to help and at times our glorification of strong-single-black mothers contributes to this. However, I think the response to that is not to take away support to and respect of these woman, but instead redefine strength in a manner that is more productive for black woman. I remember when Fantasia came out w/ "Baby Mama" and people were criticizing her and calling her all kinds of names. I remember being annoyed at the fact that men are able to rap about whatever "experience" they have or pretended to have in the hood, but woman are somehow supposed to stick to a script. That song was probably the first time in years I actually heard someone in hip/r&b "keeping it real". If black woman were really sing about what's going on in the hood, there would be more songs like that. I'm sure there were plenty of other girls in her situation who were inspired by that song and her story. People have a right to tell their stories and find strength in like communities that can help improve and uplift them. Making woman stronger should not stop them from getting what they deserve. I just wish there was a song about dead-beat dad's exclusively, because we need to give relentless shame to these men and nothing in the culture is doing that.

As usual, the conversation always shifts from the men to women. I remember reading about Farrakan's criticism of welfare policy sometime ago. Yes, welfare policy does a lot to undermine family but it also literally puts food into the mouths of children who would not have it otherwise. So instead of REALLY taking men to task for not being fathers, he takes the government to task and ask children to make the first concession in the war to rebuild black families. Of course I know Farrakhan has spoke extensively and earnestly about the need for fathers and I know it's sincere. However my point is that black community hasn't put the target on the backs of dead-beat dad's the way we need to and any conversation that shifts attention from the men who have abandoned their children to criticize the support to woman raising those children worries me. When it comes to programs like RHA, even if they're flawed, don't concern me as much as the deafening silence out there when it comes to deadbeat dads. That's why I pointed to Obama's fatherhood initiative in my comment yesterday and the organizations that are using that program to do work on the ground. I'm trying to find the glimmers of hope out there that can be supported. I can't tear down the few support systems woman and children have, while men get all the empathy, support and love of the black community.

July 15, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteriman

I just wish there was a song about dead-beat dad’s exclusively, because we need to give relentless shame to these men and nothing in the culture is doing that.
Write the lyrics, I'll sing the hook.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commentergem2001

There are any number of songs about deadbeat dads. Everclear practically made a cottage industry out of it.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

have watched with interest this debate that has been happening over the last few days.
First, semantics or not, no one believes that a woman can raise a child (male or female) alone. Unfortunately, this is what is being done in the inner cities- single young girls raising children without any support from the fathers, their fractured families or their peers. I have noticed a trend in this conversation. Older, well established and well educated single mothers objecting to the backlash against Raising Him Alone . Well, I am going to say this once so listen closely - THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU OR YOUR SITUATION. Stop being so busy defending your choices and realize that the target audience for Raising Him Alone does not have your advantages. Secondly, I find it interesting that no one is asking the real questions – If the mothers on the panel were so successful in raising their sons alone, then why are they dealing with unwed parenting for another generation? Mos def and common? Enough said. According to the Internet, Talib Kweli has a 9 and 12 year old but married DJ Eque in 2009 after being together for approximately two years. When you consider that the only people in the panel were related to rap artists,(music geared toward young people) they definitely gave the indication that RHA was a viable option for young black females with few options. Lastly, we do need to support single mothers anyway that we can. I just don't that that normalizing single parenthood to THIS audience is the way to go.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTraci

"Is this just an issue over wording? When they said raise him alone, I don’t think they meant literally with no other family members."

For my part, no - it's not an issue over wording. I went to their site and searched their content. My complaints aren't about their title. They're about RHA's methods: the fact that the site itself excludes any advice or strategies on how to get male role-models for the boys, and the lack of guidance directed to fathers or other interested males that could also provide leadership to the boys.

The name of the group means very little to me in comparison.

July 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranna (tertiary#anna)

Roslyn: Will the average reader here even know who Everclear is? Or listen to their music? You're right though, the lead singer always talks about how he was abandoned by his father, how he & his mom were on welfare and how he was going to be a better dad. He has to be the only male I know that does this on a consistent basis.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterfdow

They might not know, but that's what YouTube is for. There's another song called Cats in the Cradle, that visits that same meme. My point is, if you want to write a song about this issue, check out the people who've already done it. Cats in the Cradle is probably one of the best songs out there and it's definitely a primer on how to write such a song.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

I think Johnny Cash does Cats in the Cradle the best, but then again I think John Cash does EVERYTHING better than anyone else on the planet.

July 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoslyn Holcomb

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