Feb 17, 2013


The above tweet from Melissa Harris-Perry (MHP) caused quite a stir on Twitter this past Friday. Then after "The Problem with Daddy Politics" segment on her show this morning, the Twitter conversation got even more interesting.  Since I'm not the best multi-tasker,  the Twitter chat distracted mefrom the next couple of show segments. That is how lively it got.  I appreciated the conversation on the show.  However, I was disappointed with how unbalanced it seemed.  Before I continue, let me say that ordinarily I enjoy the MHP Show and her analysis.  She is liberal in her politics but has the ability to be objective and have a civil conversation even with those who disagree with her.  This is not some "all or nothing" proposition where I disagree with her and now want nothing to do with her or her show.

Yet I found the segment to be unbalanced.  I wholeheartedly understand the desire to defend single mothers who far too often get blamed for all that is wrong in the world.  Does defending single mothers though mean that the role and value of fathers has to be diminished?  I was also struck by the notion of the President using the bully pulpit to work out his "daddy issues" especially when he addresses the black community.  I actually view him talking about the void left by his father as a way to emotionally relate and connect.  Absent/unengaged fathers is a widespread problem in the black community.  It is the proverbial elephant in the room when discussing all that ails the black community.  It seemed to me that MHP tried to argue that struggles of single mothers are purely economical and thus the notion of marriage or having an engaged co-parent has no economic implications.  If the government offered economic assistance to single mothers, then there would not be the same level of struggle and thus uninvolved fathers have little to no bearing on what ultimately becomes of their children.  To her credit though, MHP shared how this was a complicated issue but it seems to me a more well-rounded discussion would have better served me and the rest of her viewers.

We all know that single mothers are not the cause of gun violence.  There is no need to debate that point.  There are too many examples of children excelling and succeeding despite the void left by their fathers.  As MHP has stated several times, President Obama is the classic example of this.  At the same time because there is such a large void of fathers in our community, if there were improvement in just this one aspect, what effect would that have?  Would gun violence go down? Are there common threads among the offenders of gun violence in our inner cities related to the lack of financial and/or emotional support from their fathers? To me that is the question we should be asking if we want a discussion about fatherhood and gun violence.  To me that was the intent behind President Obama's comments in Chicago.  I do not believe his intent was to slight single mothers at all.  If anything, most of his fatherhood comments that I have heard are directed to men in hopes they would step up.  In my opinion, it is actually refreshing to hear a man prod other men to do the right thing.



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