Poverty & Powerlessness: The Black Family Unit

I have a black man complex. Not because I am bitter about the absence of my father during my upbringing and I therefore indirectly hate them. But because a majority of black men are my male counterparts, and their irresponsibility and failure to simply be present in the majority of black families in primarily poverty stricken ghetto’s across the nation, is self destructing the black family.

The rates of unplanned adolescent pregnancies are highest in the black community as well as the incidence and current prevalence of single parent (mother) homes. These two disproportionate circumstances go hand in hand. 1) It already incredibly stunts the women’s ability to pursue education because she has to stop and take care of her family. 2) In over 50% of these circumstances in black families the father does not contribute financially at all to assist with raising the child which contributes to the poverty and powerlessness of the black family unit. With the help of the father, the mother would not suffer as much financially, but that is never something most young black mothers can count on. Why is it that the black man is given the choice of taking the easy option out, when the majority of men in other cultures are dedicated to raising their children and helping the mother, regardless of whether it was their choice to have the child. And then just be fair, why doesn’t the black woman get a choice? Why is she forced to be both a mother and a father?

Oh I get it…because the mother births the child she is supposed to not only bring the baby into the world, but also provide food, clothes & shelter for her child because it’s her fault? She ends up sacrificing her professional growth, because she has to play the role of 2 parents and can’t afford to continue school, and has to work twice as hard to make ends meet because she doesn’t have the educational qualifications/skills to get a higher-paying job.  And because she is a woman, and the “giver of life”, it is her moral obligation to overcompensate and raise the child to the best of her ability in poverty, because Lord knows everyone from the pastor to the next door drug dealer would call her everything less of a woman if she were to abandon her child (As the father’s often so easily do). How dare she be think of herself?

Well at least it all makes sense now……The Black Man complex that is. Black women are and have been strong for their families since the slave owners completed emasculated their husband during slavery….so what’s 50 more years?

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  • gwmchstudents

    How do you see the ‘black man complex’ being overcome? are there aspects to the culture that reward men leaving their families behind? there must be role models young black men look up to; how can the culture emphasize the family unit more?



  • gwmchstudents

    Why has this trend become acceptable in the black community? You would hate to put blame on women for not making their child’s father for being responsible for the lack of involvement, however i just  dont see why its become so acceptable. But then you take a look at the media and it was rare to have a strong black family man be portrayed in the media before president obama. Being a slave to pop culture, i see rappers that have multiple children from multiple women and i know this is not a proper depiction of the black community and i think as a whole we need to do a better job of highlighting positive black role models, especially. Thanks for your honest account of what can be seen as a taboo topic to be discussed. However, i have had friends who forced to be an active role in their childs lives to ensure that they are not like their own fathers. maybe the next step is making fathers more aware that this is a trend in their community.


    -Sapna K.

  • gwmchstudents

    I think you bring up an important, if controversial, point.  Although it is easy to simply say that women are more often the single parent in any group, if there is a greater problem within the black community, this should be discussed.  Without discussion there is little hope that the trend can be reversed.  Certainly black men and women have faced a long history of poverty, discrimination, and worse in this country.  How does that translate into the current norm of men leaving the responsibility of a child to the woman?  How can the roots of this trend be uncovered and examined so that there can be steps to reverse it?   

    -Kim Hawley