Today on the 148th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, African American writers throughout the blogosphere have united together to address the rising amount of unplanned pregnancies within our community.
Do you know how many children are born out of wedlock to the African-American community? How many African-American children, on a daily basis, hear their parents being referred to as a “baby mama” or a “baby daddy”, instead of mothers and fathers? Presently, 72% of the children in African-American communities contend with these contradictions; yet, we continue to scratch our heads and wonder what has happened to our communities, better yet, our children. Tell me why our children aren’t living up to their full potential, perhaps because their parents are not. Should we be surprised that by age 15 a large percentage of girls have lost their virginity and are often pregnant by ages 16, 17, and 18; usually with teenage boys and men they hardly know. Typically, these teen fathers or men have no desire to stick around and cultivate the seed they so willingly planted. Imagine if 72% signified the number of strong families in our community today. What would our children be like if our communities were once again headed by strong black families? What would our nation be like if our community had more Obamas and Smiths? Families that contradict the negative depiction portrayed by the embarrassing NFL football player with 8 kids by 6 different mothers who recently made the news for not being able to recall all of their names. By creating standards like No Wedding, No Womb we can create more dual parent households in our community and give our children a fighting chance to function and strive in the world today.
Some will argue that not all marriages are beneficial to children. I agree and with that being said I’d like to add that there are exceptions to every rule. Take my childhood for instance. I am the survivor of an abusive household. My mother had me out of wedlock and got married to my [step] father when I was two. My father was abusive in every aspect of the word and many of my childhood memories are centered on him physically harming and demeaning my mother. It wasn’t until I was 14 that I learned about the biology of my existence. That news changed my life completely. Now I wasn’t just an abused child, but I no longer fit in. That summer I met my biological father who really had no desire to build a relationship with me, but met with me to appease the rest of his family. As soon as he got wind of the dysfunction of both the family I was growing up with and the dysfunction I had within myself he disappeared leaving me with my [step] father who although raised me is one of the cruelest men I have ever met. My parents put up with each other so that their children would always have the benefits of a two parent household. The negativity that I was exposed to as a result of their marriage, an ideal two parent household concept, outweighed any impact that their divorce could have caused. Due to the abuse and dysfunction in my two parent home, I began running away from home at the age of 15. Consequently, I also lost my virginity at 15. My father (who wouldn’t even allow me to take sex education in school) accused me of being a whore instead of recognizing that the recent changes in my behavior was my way of rebelling against all the craziness I had endured at his hands. I decided if I was going to be constantly accused of having sex then I might as well have sex. I was yearning for love and acceptance and sex filled that void for a while. By age 16 I had moved to Syracuse, New York in an attempt to truly escape. I got a job and my GED and thought I was on the right track until I found out I was pregnant a few months after I turned 17. I was about to have a child with a man I had no desire to be with and who eventually left me and our child high and dry by the time I was 6 months pregnant. Sadly, I had become a statistic; not yet realizing the strength, courage, and love that my child would evoke in me pushing me to be a better woman, mother and person. I feel that in order for a dual parent household to have a positive impact on a child there must be a positive theme. A healthy relationship, strong morals, values and most importantly love. My upbringing is an example of an exception it is most certainly not the rule.
My husband and I were married a little over a year ago; however, prior to marriage we were simply two parents with an on again off again relationship. Our wedding wasn’t ideal in any sense of the word, considering we got married spur of the moment on the very day he finalized his divorce with someone else. Despite, the unorthodox way we were united it has truly turned out to be a blessing. Our marriage hasn’t been easy, but what marriage is? Although, it has been more work than either of us anticipated and until recently neither one of us thought we could beat the odds, we are making it work. Once we realized the positive impact our marriage could have on our children we began to change. Part of my transformation was becoming a better woman, wife and mother for my children. I decided to become a better role model than what I had. I want my children to be able to foster positive relationships with people and I know they learn what real love is from us. That simple realization became my motivation to make the changes needed in my relationship with my husband. First, I had to realize that love isn’t magic, it’s a decision; and we had to decide whether we wanted love or war. I stopped ridiculing my husband for everything I felt he was doing wrong and started paying attention and praising him for all the things that he was doing right. We’ve laid our issues out on the table to discuss and resolve everything so we can make things right between us, because ultimately we are the only ones who can fix them. Once I started changing, so did our family’s dynamic. It’s truly amazing how much power one person can have on an entire household. Ladies, we have more power than we give ourselves credit for. I am now learning the importance of traditional roles in a family. As strong Black Women, no matter how much we try, we simply have to stop choosing to raise our children alone. Instead, we need to start grasping the power of a husband/father’s role in the familial unit. My boys were extremely sheltered up until recently, but now that I’ve let go and allowed my husband to step in, my boys are starting to learn lessons I never could have taught them. I’m not saying that raising a son alone can’t be done; however, I’ve realized that although I can teach them to be good and responsible, there is no way I can teach them how to be a man. They need their father to do that. Together, my husband and I are learning to love and guide our children in a way we never knew was possible and it may never have been possible if we hadn’t learned to truly be loving, respectful and understanding towards one another.
I don’t have all the answers regarding how we should fix our community, considering I’ve only recently begun working on myself. I do know that we, as a community, need to take a hard look at ourselves and the fruit we are bearing. Simply providing a stable family unit within our children lives has a major impact on their future and that requires more than the latest video game console, sneakers and/or the latest tech gadget. Changing our culture in regards to having children won’t fix everything that’s wrong with our community today, but it is a start and we have to start somewhere. If we can fix our families then maybe we can pull our families together and fix our community. Then we’ll all have something to be proud of. Wouldn’t you like to be proud of our community again? I would.
No Wedding No Womb Theme Song! by LJpress