Tuesday, September 7, 2010

When's daddy coming home?

While growing up in a suburban neighborhood in Grenada, I had no idea how much my small neighborhood mimicked the rest of the city, county, state, and the world.
A group of us – about roughly 15 kids – grew up together, experiencing the emotional highs and lows of your normal 13-year-old.
But little did I know, most of us were “normal” in more ways than we thought.
Of those roughly 15 black youngsters, there were only three of us with a father at home. (That number dropped to two after one of my best friend’s father passed away.)
Fortunately, I was one of those select few with a male figure in the household.
But put those numbers in perspective; only 20 percent of my peers lived in a two-parent home. Compare those numbers to statewide statistics, and it resembles the same notion – only 30 percent of African-American children in Mississippi are brought up by two parents.
In contrast, an estimated 74 percent of white kids in Mississippi are raised by two parents.
As humans, we always point a finger at someone or something. So who don’ it?
Bad decisions?
Lack of education?
Or the one I’ve heard countless times: A welfare check?
It all depends on who you ask.
But for the record, those who’re convinced that black women (or any woman) will endure nine months of morning sickness, doctor visits and weight gain to receive $300 a month in food stamps, probably considers Bernard Madoff the savior of our economic future.   
The truth is – it’s a mix of poverty, bad decisions, a lack of education and the constant search to fill the emptiness left by an absent father.
Simply put, it’s a cycle – a cycle that our community must get a hold of in order to prosper.
Mississippi is ranked No.1 in teenage pregnancies. As an outcome, kids are raising kids.
Other than what not to wear to a party, what life lessons can a 16-year-old pass along?
And so the cycle continues.
I write this, urging fathers to break this vicious cycle.
Poverty is not a death sentence.
It’s probation.
And you’re the only member on the parole board.

Kenneth Mister is sports editor of the Delta Democrat Times

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