Most children in single-parent families grow up just fine, and it is still unclear how much of the disadvantages to children are caused by poverty or family structure or whether marriage itself makes the difference or the type of people who commonly marry.Demonizing single black motherhood does not improve the lives of children.“We didn’t use stigmatized language around our family structure when I was growing up,” she says.
On the contrary, the idea that 70 percent of black boys and girls are congenitally damaged stigmatizes them.
“It’s messed up that we have to figure out how to keep our kids from being negatively impacted by generations of misinformation about the way that our households are run,” says Stacia Brown, thirty-five.
Here again, the Moynihan Report and its support for the stereotypes of the Matriarch, Sapphire, and Jezebel play a role in ensuring that the public discussion of black motherhood is relentlessly negative.
“If the male isn’t the primary breadwinner of the family, then the children of that family are forever deviant. Ronald Reagan, in his 1976 presidential campaign, abetted this idea with his bogeywoman, the “welfare queen.” His frequently repeated anecdote about the Cadillac-driving Chicago woman who swindled government programs out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by using disguises, fake names and addresses, and possibly a stolen baby, cemented the idea that black female reproduction is unreasonable, tied to lasciviousness, and reflects a desire to leech off the state rather than to be a loving parent and contributor to the future of society.
Heidi Renée Lewis, thirty-three, says condemnation of single-parent families also unduly shames mothers trying to do their best. ’ My cousin said, ‘Well at least they’re both by the same man!
She tells a story about attending a neighborhood outing with her oldest son and his father while she was pregnant with their second child. This one woman that I grew up with said to my cousin, ‘Oh my God! ’” Heidi’s cousin had three children with two fathers.Conservative columnist George Will said on ABC’s that high rates of black divorce and single-parent families “really reflects less on black men and more on black women and their inability to make good choices.” Dr. Jackson says that black women’s sexuality and motherhood have been part of public discourse since slavery, when our reproduction was an integral part of the economy, like the livestock that kept the agricultural engine going.People were as inclined to talk about black women birthing babies as they were cows bearing calves.There was still this ‘don’t be like them’ narrative.Why would I want to be like people who weren’t being affirmed?“If you’re treating a group of people like animals, you have to believe that they’re not capable of making the same emotional bonds with their children that you are.