What do you hear?

This weekend I was on the Melissa Harris-Perry show where she discussed a situation that she came up against when she posted this tweet during the Friday Obama’ speech:

This caused a bit of stir. So much so that Dr. Harris-Perry opened her Sunday show with this monologue.

The outrage to this segment seemed almost as strong as the outrage to the one tweet she posted. On today’s TWiB! Radio I address the outrage–not so much about what she meant by her statement but about what the response to the statement means to discourse. People were so angry at what they felt it implied that they didn’t hear her words and this type of thought seems to be even more of an issue overall in our current political scene. I didn’t even completely agree with MHP but I heard her words. Check it out here:


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And on today’s TWiB in the Morning we discussed the ratification of the 13th amendment…that just happened 2 weeks ago in Mississippi, legislating the duct taping of women’s breast. No really.


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Also because I’m a douche I totally forget to post our last episodes from last week. You can catch up on those here:

As per usual we will be all up in the comments. And if you have a moment we’ve created some forums and a activity space on This Week in Blackness. Swing by and check it out as we beta test it all and let us know what you think!

 

 






63 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    Since I didn’t see any of Obama’s or MHP’s statements, I feel uniquely qualified to opine on this issue. Ask me anything.

  2. 2
    Roger Moore says:

    @Baud:

    Ask me anything.

    Who do you like in The Series this year?

  3. 3
    Alison says:

    I can definitely see both sides of the issue, and I thought MHP did a very good job of explaining where she was coming from and expanding on her thoughts. I do hope that people who got upset with her on Twitter took the time to watch the show. I feel like some folks were inferring stuff that just wasn’t there and were missing the nuances of her argument.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Whichever team’s players have the most single moms, of course.

  5. 5
    gbear says:

    @Baud: What’s an occasional table the rest of the time?

  6. 6
    bago says:

    The link goes to an activity feed.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Roger Moore says:

    @Baud:

    Ask me anything.

    What if there were no hypothetical questions?

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Then I couldn’t give you a hypothetical answer.

  10. 10
    gbear says:

    @Baud: I’m glad I already knew it was a stupid question before I followed your link…

  11. 11
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud:

    Ask me anything.

    What do I have in my pocket?

  12. 12
    MikeJ says:

    @Roger Moore: Sawks. This year is next year.

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    It was very well explained by MHP, with the depth of a sociologist. Obama is a politician, and his points are not always altruistic, as is normal for that species.

    I think Twitter was created for people to misunderstand each other, and why I won’t have anything to do with it. Though it may come in handy if there is a revolution, or some kind of shit like that.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    I don’t know, but I’m happy to see you too!

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Baud: That is not the canonical answer.

  16. 16
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: OT but of possible interest: my new eye doc is a Marquette alum.

  17. 17
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    @General Stuck:

    One joke I’ve heard is that with Twitter, we’ve finally invented a news medium that provides no context at all.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: You know who else is a Marquette alum*?

    *Non-grad of course.

  19. 19
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Other than both of my late parents? My mom got her Phi Beta Kappa key there.

  20. 20
    Yutsano says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Ugh. Do we have to talk about your Koch-sucking idiot governour? Just the thought of the damage he’s doing up there makes me ill.

  21. 21
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Yutsano: Still a possibility that he will be indicted. One can hope.

  22. 22
    TGC says:

    Until I see any evidence that most single moms actually want to be single moms, I won’t understand the knee-jerk negative response to anybody pointing out that too many single parent families in the AA community (of which I am a member) sucks. It’s not good that so many black children aren’t being raised even partially by their fathers. It’s terrible. It’s not good for black kids or black women. You don’t have to blame the single mothers or children raised by single mothers for every problem in the world to recognize it. Liberals are supposed to like math and the math for women raising children on their own is terrible. It’s not so great to the kids either.

    MHP needs to give the “strong black woman” thing a rest. It’s a defense mechanism because we don’t expect to be supported so we act like we don’t need it. But we do. We want what other women want. Our children need what other children need. African American women and children need a lot more black men to be husbands and fathers. Very little for us as a people will improve without it. We will continue to lag behind white people and other people of color in almost every quality of life measure with our families so fractured.

    I’m sure I’ll be flamed now so I’ll let Jill Scott say the rest.

    “The Fact Is I Need You”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6l3F-YoznEg

  23. 23
    Hoodie says:

    @General Stuck: Agree about Twitter, not about MHP. She seemed to be reading way too much into what Obama said, possibly a kneejerk reaction arising from hearing superficially similar noises out of gasbags like Bill Bennett or David Brooks, who have no moral authority to speak on such issues. Her explanation was defensive, at best and the stuff about trying to distinguish policy from morality was strained. The president should not be – and is not – an advocate for government enforced shotgun weddings, but he is a role model (for everyone), and not a bad one at that. It was borderline emoprog.

  24. 24

    Er @Baud? The post starts with the tweet she made and the video of her comments on the whole situation. If you want to hear the President’s speech I’m sure a simple google search will grab that for you.

  25. 25

    @bago: Yes–the link goes to the activity space that I mentioned and there are links to forums and such all over it.

  26. 26
    ruemara says:

    I’m rather more in Obama’s camp. and TCG’s. Look, strong is wonderful and awesome and more black men than not finish school, do well and move on. Thanks to all those strong black women. But fer fuck’s sake, isn’t it time to demand more of idiot black males who spawn like it’s upstream at Negro Salmon World? We need to not accept that from the men. It’s not an attack at women, it’s a request for black men to see that they are needed in a child’s life. Not just as disciplinarians, but as true fathers. Loving, exemplary, caring and compassionate. It means something. For many young men, a gang is a surrogacy for both father and brother bonding. And the results are killing people.

  27. 27

    @General Stuck:

    It was very well explained by MHP, with the depth of a sociologist. Obama is a politician, and his points are not always altruistic, as is normal for that species.
    I think Twitter was created for people to misunderstand each other, and why I won’t have anything to do with it. Though it may come in handy if there is a revolution, or some kind of shit like that.

    I see some amazing folks on Twitter but sometimes the mass hysteria gets a bit much.

  28. 28
    Pooh says:

    It seems like a pretty willful misreading of BHO’s remarks to read into them the implication that the situation is the FAULT of the single mothers.

  29. 29
    TGC says:

    @Pooh: It was. MHP and her panel were being idiots about this. PBO didn’t say anything insulting about single mothers, he was obviously talking about absentee fathers. As a committed father who grew up without his own, who the hell else would he have been talking about?

  30. 30

    @TGC:

    @Pooh: It was. MHP and her panel were being idiots about this. PBO didn’t say anything insulting about single mothers, he was obviously talking about absentee fathers. As a committed father who grew up without his own, who the hell else would he have been talking about?

    So…this is what I’m talking about. 1) I was on the panel. I didn’t read it that way and I specifically said that it was more layered than that. 2) There are implications based things like environment, where the message is placed and more. The idea that “2 parent house-holds” stop violence is something that isn’t even a ground breaking theory put forth. If you remember Romney made a similar remark. Now I didn’t agree with exactly what MHP said but I realize what she said and why she said it. It’s apart of a larger narrative and the bigger idea is about politicians making arguments as to what a proper family looks like.

  31. 31

    @Pooh: Yeah, what Pooh said. I can understand where MHP is coming from. The women who do the work of raising the children without the father shouldn’t shoulder the blame but they’re an easy target. I just don’t think that was happening here.

    OT but semi related. Saw a FB post get a lot of shares that detailed an ER worker who is angered by a patient on medicare that has gold teeth, a new phone with R&B ringtone, etc.
    A representative comment which I find hilarious:

    It’s not just in healthcare, which is bad, but in the grocery store too. I love to get behind someone with a cart full of steaks and Starbucks coffee, with nails perfectly manicured, designer clothes and a Couch purse paying with EBT.

    How freaking big is that purse made out of a couch? Someone get the kerners going to inspect some counters!

  32. 32
    adamchaz says:

    One thing I agree with MHP, is there is nothing that the government can do about single motherhood. I mean ending the war on drugs will be nice but even that only works around the edges.

    In some neighborhoods single parents is the norm and not the exception. So children raise by single parents are more likely to think that being a single parent is okay.

  33. 33
    Tyro says:

    @Elon James White: It’s apart of a larger narrative and the bigger idea is about politicians making arguments as to what a proper family looks like.

    Well, it’s a shame that it makes some people feel bad when public figures argue for more two parent families as a better way to raise children, but it sounds like a fairly straightforward thing to say.

    Sometimes, raising a child as a single mother is making the best of a tough situation, but the last thing we should be doing is objecting when someone says, “there should me more two parent families!”

    Yes, there’s only so much the government can do about this (very little). But that doesn’t change it.

  34. 34
    aimai says:

    There should be more multigenerational families. There should be more money for families. There should be more police protection for families. There should be safe neighborhoods for families. There should be more free time for families. There should be better schools for families. There should be more effective and loving communities for families. These are all as true as “there should be more active fathers” for families and children.

    But it remains the case that absent immaculate conception all these children of “single mothers” actually have fathers–if those fathers choose to be absent, or are incarcerated, that is bad for those kids because it removes one leg of the stool that supports those children. Its not a knock on single mothers to say that raising a child is exhausting, time consuming, back breaking, isolating, and expensive. OBVIOUSLY if there are two biological parents (that is, if the child wasn’t produced by artificial insemination and donated sperm) then its preferable for both parties to do their part with respect to the child’s needs. Because children are needy. And they need more than one parent can give them.

  35. 35
    General Stuck says:

    @Hoodie:

    I don’t disagree with the over reading into Obama’s comment. But I have no problem with a smart pundit jumping off that comment into a deeper discussion on what the stressors are that cause violence in poverty stricken areas. Obama is president and is trying to talk to the whole country, even white wingnuts in a kind of weird triangulation way, to win over enough folks and votes for the gun control push to see some results.

    I agree with MHP that the subject of fatherhood and nuclear familial diversity are not, all or even mostly to blame for inner city violence in black neighborhoods. She was careful to say that she knew that was not what Obama was saying.

    And she was countering a wingnut narrative to that effect. I grew up in Appalachia, and there were no black people , but there was rampant poverty and violence and drug use, and still is, and a vocational opportunity for young white girls to have any number of kids to max the welfare payouts.

    It comes down mostly to opportunity. In the mountains, that is mostly of function of geographic isolation, in the cities, in is in large part due to race and a dead end for escape into a better life for a lot of reasons that don’t have to do with fathers being around, although that could be one factor. IOW;s , people do what they have to to survive. That has no skin color attached.

    About all the pundits on MSNBC have their emoprog moments, as they are angling for that audience for tuning in. Teevee is a business, and the beans ain’t free, or something.

  36. 36
    TGC says:

    @aimai: All of this. Thank you.

  37. 37
    Anya says:

    I thought MHP was really condescending and reading way too much into what the president is saying. He had a point and should not be restricted from making these valid points. He did not say single motherhood caused gun violence. So, I don’t understand her response.

    The president is a strong role model. He was talking to an audience full of young black men and he wanted to encourage them. I really don’t understand MHP’s rant at all.

  38. 38
    satby says:

    Single white mom here. One day 20 years ago when I was driving my sons and some schoolmates (2 other little boys) my youngest son asked one of the other kids who had a single mom where the boy’s dad was. The kids answer has always stayed with me “he’s gone, like all dads”. It broke my heart when all three of the others sadly nodded and said yes, the dads all go away. Think about that…in their world, the dads just leave.

  39. 39

    @aimai:

    OBVIOUSLY if there are two biological parents (that is, if the child wasn’t produced by artificial insemination and donated sperm) then its preferable for both parties to do their part with respect to the child’s needs.

    What if one of those parents simply suck? Sure, they are around but they’re problematic in multiple ways. To simply say “a father being around is obviously preferable” is a bit of an over simplification.

  40. 40
    lamh35 says:

    I was one of the people who tweeted MHP in reaction to her tweet, but it wasn’t because I was “outraged”, I was more perplexed that she was bascially putting words into POTUS mouth from that speech that he didn’t express.

    If I recalled correctly, POTUS gave the speech after speaking to a group of young men who were part of a program at Hyde Park called B.A.M. (Becoming A Man). After the talk POTUS gave this speech and the whole thing seemed a personal reflection on the part of POTUS who I think was speaking from the place of a boy who’s father was basically absent from his life. He literally said “I wish I had a father who was around more…” The gist of the whole segment was I think based on that meeting, he actually said ““what makes you a man is not the ability to make a child, it’s the courage to raise one”. He was speaking from his personal feeling as one raised without a father.

    The idea that Obama by speaking his own personal feeling as a boy raised essentially by his single mother, was saying that single mothers were the responsible for gun violence was just not true and it seemed like MHP was projecting her her own issues with the topic on POTUS at the when he wasn’t even saying what she implied he did.

    When reasonable people tweeted that that was not what POTUS said, and ask where was she getting that from she linked to a piece she wrote on the subject in 2009 for The Nation. Which was fine. When people argued that they felt what she wrote in 2009 was all fine and good, but it didn’t reflect what POTUS was saying that day, she then began to make it seem like people who were disagreeing with her were doing so just because she wasn’t criticizing POTUS. Yes there were people who were being beyond disagreeable, but from my perspective the majority of the tweeters were perfectly reasonable, but when she began with the defensive “how dare I critic tweets” that when of course the over the top tweets began. I did not join in that bit of it.

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ranchandsyrup: Medicare? In that case, that story is about the most gangsta 65-year-old in America.

  42. 42
    rikyrah says:

    this entire show made me madder than a mutha.

    I get mad everytime I think about it.

    I get mad that they dismiss that POTUS actually grew up fatherless.

    I get mad that they dismiss the wonderful job that Toots and Grandpa Stanley did in helping raise Barack, the same way that many grandparents in our community step forward and help their children when they need it.

    If Toots and Grandpa Stanley can be dismissed, then so can Big Mama and Granddaddy who have long held up our community, stepping up and helping when their children needed it.

    I hate that they dismiss that Barack Obama made a decision – that the circle of fatherlessness would END WITH HIM and that his children would not have this happen to them.

    FATHERS ARE NOT EXPENDABLE FROM CHILDREN’S LIVES.

    The President spoke to a group called BECOMING A MAN.

    He told these young men that, even though they are taking the positive steps with their lives by being involved with this group..

    What they are feeling – the loss of their father’s not being in their lives – is ok.

    They can appreciate the other adults in their lives; accept their love and support..

    and, it’s NOT WRONG for them to STILL MISS THEIR FATHERS.

    He validated their feelings. How many times do young Black males get VALIDATED in this society about their feelings.

    Let alone that validation coming from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

    Not only telling them that their feelings are valid..

    But, that, I, TOO, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, had those feelings too, once upon a time. And, I got through it.

    MHP can have a stadium full of seats for that trash she put on tv Sunday.

    Black men are NOT EXPENDABLE from their children’s lives.

    For boys, they are the models by which these boys try to aim for as they grow.

    For girls, they are taught by their father as to what they should DEMAND for themselves as women.

    The President was being honest with these young people….

    what was wrong with that?

  43. 43
    aimai says:

    @Elon James White:

    Look, if you want to say that some or lots of men are shitty fathers that’s your perspective and your prerogative–but don’t put words in my mouth. I said its “preferable for both parties to do their part” which implies an actual content to the notion that men should stick around–because they have a part to play.

    The problem between MHP and the President is a typical confusion between insider and outsider speeches. The president was speaking to young men in his audience. Sure, it was a “shanda fur dem goyim” when his words get broadcast outside but it remains the case that people (men and women) need to take responsibility for their own children. If you are going to have them you need to be prepared for the whole shebang: pregnancy, birth, and rearing. If people are having children they are not prepared to raise that’s a problem for the family and that’s a problem for the community but its not a problem any community or supra-family organization can fix. Its a problem that only the men and women having children can fix.

    At a larger societal level there are about a million things we can do to help communities–in this specific case communities riven by extreme adolescent violence and honor killings. The President needs to address those issues with local leadership and local government, housing authorities, transit authorities, schools, grocery stores, places of work and worship. The larger issue of the overflow of violence onto children and families can be dealt with by ending violent behavior whatever its causes.

    But if you want to prevent a renewed cycle of broken families, lost parents, lost chances then you have to address the fact that people who are not intending to parent are becoming parents, people who do not love each other are becoming parents, people who are not thoughtful parents are becoming parents. Who are you going to address that to except the ones who are absenting themselves from the struggle?

  44. 44
    Sly says:

    Of course single mothers are to blame. We can’t blame the absence of fathers, because that might lead to a discussion about the whether or not our decision to throw a third of all black men into prison was a good idea. Which, in turn, might lead us to question James S. Crow II, Esq. the War on Drugs. Which, in turn, might lead to dancing.

  45. 45
    gorram says:

    @aimai:

    Look, if you want to say that some or lots of men are shitty fathers that’s your perspective and your prerogative–but don’t put words in my mouth. I said its “preferable for both parties to do their part” which implies an actual content to the notion that men should stick around–because they have a part to play.

    Okay, but what happens when they don’t stick around? MHP at least has the idea of setting up a safety net so that while there’s still emotional and interpersonal problems that can arise from feelings of abandonment that situation doesn’t so directly translate into poverty for the family as a whole or a lack of attention and resources for the kids. In the clip, she makes it pretty clear that she was concerned while liveblogging the speech that Obama was going to fail to make that point, but he eventually did too, but in the meantime the twitters went all atwitter on her.

    There’s also the small problem that neither of them raise about how not only do some parents fail to provide for their families and otherwise “stick around” but that others shouldn’t be there and their presence is nearly synonymous with abuse of either the other parent, the kids, or both. For some families the having one parent no longer be present is actually the best choice. The fact that we can’t talk about that dimension of this openly (while, of all things, VAWA is floundering) is kind of terrifying.

    But if you want to prevent a renewed cycle of broken families, lost parents, lost chances then you have to address the fact that people who are not intending to parent are becoming parents, people who do not love each other are becoming parents, people who are not thoughtful parents are becoming parents. Who are you going to address that to except the ones who are absenting themselves from the struggle?

    As some one who belongs to a family I’m largely not biologically related to, I really hate this framing of the issue. The idea that you can either have you biological family or nothing is really offensive to some people, just fyi.

  46. 46
    boss bitch says:

    You heard her words? Did anyone hear Obama’s? Stop treating like a victim who doesn’t have a platform to defend herself. I saw her tweet during the speech AND the reactions. She immediately claimed she was being vilified. Yeah, no. A lot of people just disagreed with her. In the days since then Obama has been vilified. Opening up stupid meme that he’s not black enough to talk about black issues to black people. Never mind the fact that these same people are always telling Obama to come to their ‘hood and give a speech about issues that affect them AND to propose bills that SPECIFICALLY address their needs. Every single time he accepts these invites, some of these academics have knee jerk reaction to shit he never said. MHP overreacted and was VERY condescending. There is a discussion to be had but it should NOT have started on the false premise that Obama said single moms caused gun violence. That is a lie.

  47. 47
    boss bitch says:

    bill cosby impression? daddy issues? really?

  48. 48
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    Until I see any evidence that most single moms actually want to be single moms, I won’t understand the knee-jerk negative response to anybody pointing out that too many single parent families in the AA community (of which I am a member) sucks. It’s not good that so many black children aren’t being raised even partially by their fathers. It’s terrible. It’s not good for black kids or black women. You don’t have to blame the single mothers or children raised by single mothers for every problem in the world to recognize it. Liberals are supposed to like math and the math for women raising children on their own is terrible. It’s not so great to the kids either.

    @TGC: My last reply got eaten but I’ll try again. White guy here, raised by single mom. It sucked.

    If you want to ruin a society, create more single-parent families. It ruins the lives of children and the women – and yes, it’s always women, I’m almost 50 and have yet to meet one single-parent family headed by a man – the women pay an unholy price for the sin of the absent father. I’m not religious but “sin” is the only appropriate word.

    Obama, of all people, knows this. And his ride was a lot easier than some. He had grandparents to step in. I, for example, did not.

    Not sure what Dr. Harris-Perry’s issue is.

  49. 49
    boss bitch says:

    And one more thing. MHP and some of her colleagues can miss me with that ‘its ok to criticize obama’ bull. Yeah, we know that. You don’t get to lie though. You don’t get a pass cause you black or liberal. MHP retweeted one of her followers calling her critics ride or die obama supporters. It was insult and straight dismissal of what we had to say. So stop automatically dismissing people as obamabots. We are the same people that keep your shows on the air.

  50. 50
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gorram:

    As some one who belongs to a family I’m largely not biologically related to, I really hate this framing of the issue. The idea that you can either have you biological family or nothing is really offensive to some people, just fyi.

    I think you seriously misread what aimai was saying. Her point was that if society wants to prevent kids from growing up in shitty families, we should probably put some effort into education and other social programs to prevent people from forming shitty families in the first place rather than spending all of our time and effort on trying to pick up the pieces afterwards.

    There’s nothing wrong with forming a better family after your shitty birth family lets you down, but it at least sounds like you were sane enough to realize that your birth family was shitty and you needed to do something different when you gathered your newly chosen family around you. A lot of people never manage to gain that kind of insight and just blindly do what their parents did (or didn’t do), and are then shocked and astounded when things turn out exactly the same way.

  51. 51
    Mnemosyne says:

    @rikyrah:

    I am still fascinated by something my mother-in-law told me while they were out visiting: our 6-year-old niece (G’s sister’s daughter) has decided that her parents suck and has started telling people that G’s cousin and his wife are her parents and their kids are her younger brothers.

    Now, given that my niece’s dad is back in prison — again — and her mom is a Vicodin addict who spends her days watching “Law & Order,” I can’t help but think that it’s a very healthy sign that my niece has decided that the nice, loving couple who spend a lot of time with her are her real parents and not the crap ones biology stuck her with.

    And it all circles back to being relevant when I say that my niece is biracial (dad is black, mom is white) and her “adopted” family is the same (dad is black, mom is white). I find it pretty hopeful that the family she has decided to emulate is showing her that it’s not that black men are crappy dads, it’s that her dad is a crappy dad and there are better dads out there.

    (And to parallel it even more, G’s cousin had a crappy absentee dad and, like the president, swore that he would do things differently when he had children, and he has kept that promise to himself.)

  52. 52
    Splitting Image says:

    I just want to add to the conversation the idea that addressing the issue of single-parent families is not the same thing as saying that biological fathers have an obligation to raise the children they help create. They are related, but they are not the same thing.

    Part of the reason that there are so many single parent families out there is that it can be really, really hard to find a partner after Man #1 has bailed out on you. Partly because men don’t always want to date women who already have kids, but also partly because being a single parent is just damn exhausting and it can be really hard to get back in the dating pool when you are tired and stressed out.

    Solving Problem #1 (the men who feel that it’s okay to bail out) would go a long way to alleviating Problem #2 (the fact that a lot of people who end up raising a kid by themselves are stuck that way until the kid is 18), but both problems are very important and need to be addressed.

  53. 53
    Xenos says:

    This thread is seriously lacking in elementary Marxism.

    None of these policies proposed for dealing with the problem of fatherless children is going to amount to much when there are basic economic forces and conditions that require independently strong nuclear family structures to thrive while systematically disrupting working class nuclear families.

    Can you, and should you, ameliorate the situation with targeted programs to support families? Yes, absolutely. Should you let young men know that the best prospects for a permanent exit from the underclass is to organize their lives around normative values and family structures? Sure, for what it is worth. For those who can pull if off, that sort of encouragement and validation is worth a great deal.

    But we can do a lot more if we stop treating families as a test of moral worth and start thinking about them as existing, durable structures that need to be supported to be successful (straight nuclear middle-class families get all sorts of government support, it goes without saying). And if that means designing benefits, entitlements, and housing policies around matrilineal lines, then by all means we should be doing it.

  54. 54
    Aimai says:

    I don’t think bio families are more important than “families we choose.” However children conspicuously lack the right or ability to choose for themselves. I have two adopted nieces. Also a cousin who, along with her child’s father, spent twenty years in prison. Her child’s entire childhood. That child was raised by family friends. I am quite familiar with the struggle to satisfy a child’s childish desire to have two loving biological parents while visiting each in prison and trying to pick up the pieces of normalcy at school.

  55. 55
    aimai says:

    I agree with @Xenos: that this thread is seriously lacking in a materialist perspective. “Boys becoming Men” is not my topic, its Obama’s topic to a targeted group of young men. It wasnt’ directed at single women at all–nor was it directed at the horde of absent fathers. It was a targeted talk to a young audience who have a lot of agency and choice ahead of them, albeit painful.

    As for EJW point that I am devaluaing “families we choose” by not recognizing their worth–that hadn’t really come up but since he brings it up I disagree. Not that I don’t think families we choose aren’t incredibly important and enriching and, of course, preferable to the abusive bastards who may have bred us. I am the aunt of two adopted children who will never know their biological parents. I am also the cousin of a woman who spent 20 years in prison–and so did the father of her child. That child was raised by a two parent family who shuttled that child in and out of two prisons. Why? Because he wanted to know and love and be loved by his biological parents. Because children prefer that all the people in their lives love them and be worthy of them and worthy of respect. Its hard on a child to have to give up on that love, no matter how unworthy the object of the affection is.

    Its a hard choice in the absence of real work opportunities for anyone to raise a child. Of course the President and everyone else should actually be working towards a full employment economy, better public schools, free or subsidized child care and early childhood education, safe streets, free health care. What’s that you say? Those are all things we are actually fighting over this very second politically? And *in addition* the president gave a talk to a specific group of young men about the significance of the struggle that they are facing when they choose–or don’t choose–to become fathers? Well blow me down with a feather.

    Look, if the President had gone to a maximum security prison full of elderly convicts and lectured them about reclaiming their god given masculine rights to a full on patriarchal family I’d have the same take as MHP. But he didn’t. If he’d gone to a group of young single mothers and slut shamed them I’d have a different take: but he didn’t.

    MHP trolled the president’s speech in order to gain attention for another worthy issue: single parents and the safety net. I get it. But that’s what it seems to have been, an attempt to launch her own issue off the back of a Presidential speech in a “yeah, but” kind of way.

  56. 56
    aimai says:

    Sorry for the double post–the system told me the first short comment had not posted.

  57. 57
    jshooper says:

    I’ve become convinced that the people at MSNBC got together after the election and decided that they all had to be “tougher” on Obama as to not look too “supportive”…This has led many of them to go into dishonest idiotic firebagger style rants against him over complete bullshit…Rachel Maddow has had her moments recently where I couldn’t even watch her show because she was distorting reality just to bash Obama…Now MHP is pulling her best firebagger Cornel West impersonation…Where she gets to basically lie about something Obama said or did….and nobody is allowed to confront her over it without being called an Obamabot…I’ve defended her in the past, but she better come correct and clean this up or she’ll be on my shit list…If you have a legitimate beef with Obama over an issue that’s fine…but you don’t get to project hateful intentions on him and get away with it

  58. 58
    Cassidy says:

    @TGC: I wouldn’t flame that. Sounds honest. I think poor single mothers of any ethnicity all want the same thing: a partner to ease the burden or to not be poor.

  59. 59
    Town says:

    I’m almost 50 and have yet to meet one single-parent family headed by a man – the women pay an unholy price for the sin of the absent father. I’m not religious but “sin” is the only appropriate word.

    My brother is a single parent. The mother checked out over 10 years ago.

    My best friend grew up with just his dad. His mom lived in another state but felt he needed to grow up with his dad…because she cannot teach a boy how to be a man.

    Many of the black EmoProgs DEMAND Obama talk about an issue but what they really want is for him to say BLACK FOLKS IZ DOWNTRODDEN CUZ IT’S WHITEY’S FAULT. And he’s not going to say that because he doesn’t believe that. He would not downgrade single mom households when HE came from a single mom household! He met his dad twice…some of those kids in the hood have had more contact with their dads than Obama ever did.

    Melissa Harris Perry straight lied on what Obama actually said, twisted what he meant and when called out on it on Twitter, got mad and decided to play the victim on her tv show, loading up her Amen Corner of “Black Intellegencia” to back her up.

    She’s wrong, she got called out on it, she’s butthurt. The end.

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    ricky says:

    Perhaps we will one day be able to separate our personal experience with family to our reaction to family issues, just as we will be able to separate the substance of reactions to our tweets from the fact that it was our tweets which provoked them. I suggest we start by lengthening gestation and the number of characters.

  61. 61
    aimai says:

    @ricky:

    Golf claps all around.

  62. 62
    Paula says:

    I don’t know what the discussion about prepperism and violent video games are except broad swipes at “White parenting” in re to what causes young (white) men to become violent. A lot of people talking about “white” criminals tend to turn towards explanations like absentee parenting and physical and emotional abuse suffered as a child.

    We didn’t talk about young men of color getting killed in equal numbers (although in more 1-to-1 shootings) in the inner city and I think a lot of people found it to be shameful that we seemed to care more about white youth getting killed.

    And then there’s the Bill Cosby line that Obama is repeating here, which seems like an attempt at “caring”.

    Middle class white and black people are both turning to the idea that there are all these “others” not taking responsibility for themselves and their kids.

    It’s all bullshit, as far as I can tell. You can’t expect to raise up all children well when so many parents lack for basic resources.

    But it’s American bullshit, not limited to folks of a certain color.

    Speaking as an Asian American, though, so this is mostly just observation.

  63. 63
    Paula says:

    @Paula:

    I should say 1.5 generation Asian American. As in: I’ve been given a lot and my immigrant parents have no problem blaming me personally if I mess shit up.

    And there’s no such thing as an ethnic socialization or mental health.

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