Archive for September 2, 2010

The Government and Black Family

I recently attended a Father’s Conference and a lot of things came up as a result.  The main thing that became crystal clear as I watched, listened and took it all in that I witnessed, Big Brother’s interest in the Black family does in fact exist.  Yes, believe it or not the federal government has taken, which continues to date, efforts to address the issues that run rampant in the Black community, the destruction of the family being one of them.   It obviously makes sense to devise a plan to address issues such as childhood poverty, illiteracy and unemployment, the economic impact of allowing them to run amok is asinine.  However, getting to the root of or the impetus for these , however, makes much more sense.

The U.S. Dept. of Health, Administration of Children and Families is the agency responsible for researching, promoting and funding healthy families.  The Healthy Marriage initiative has been in place for more than a decade.  The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (www.aahmi.net) is the component of ACF that aims at promoting marriage, responsible fatherhood and strong families in the Black community.  And although the original objective of ACF’s Healthy Marriage initiative, which arose out of Congress’ findings that marriage is fundamental to a healthy society, was to promote and strengthen marriage, the Obama administration deviated somewhat.  In 2005 the Deficit Reduction Act was enacted, this directed that $150 million each year for the research, training and programs that promoted marriage, fatherhood and families.  Consequently, the Bush administration allotted $100 million of those funds to marriage and the remaining $50 million to fatherhood programs.  Obama, on the other hand, increased the allotted amount to $500 million, but he designated that half of that budget be used to fund fatherhood programs, with a “marriage component” while the other half go to programs that will improve the lives of children by helping their parents to get jobs.  Obama does not minimize the importance of marriage, on the contrary, what his goal is is to broaden the legislation’s base by focusing on families.   As it stands, there are more single parent households in the Black community than married ones, there is no debating this.  So putting emphasis on fatherhood programs certainly widens the reach of the funds for many Black families, by eliminating the requirement of marriage.  Some argue that this only perpetuates the Black community’s stance on families, only supporting our belief that we don’t need to be married to have a family.  While others think that he merely took a more realistic and pragmatic approach to a very critical predicament.  Although I promote marriage, I think ignoring where we are today can have a much more deleterious effect than trying to affect change prospectively.  An ideal program will encourage fathers to consider marriage as a viable option to eliminating poverty, improving  their relationship with their child and even ameliorating their economic predicament, and not just focus on being a good or better father.