The Myth of Weak and Broken Black Families

This further verifies a point I made in an earlier post, Black Feminism and Epistemology of Ignorance. I took a quote from a work I was reading, where someone stated that, “I didn’t know that blacks had weak families until I got to college.” I discussed a passage from another book that showed that black parents have larger social networks of support than do white parents.

On top of that, it appears that black fathers are more dedicated to their children in many ways, despite the social disruption of severe poverty and mass incarceration. The idea of a weak family or a broken family is typically a judgment made by those who lack both knowledge and self-awareness. They are judging others who they know little about and doing so through a very narrow lense that blinds them to their own problems and failures. They can neither see the strength in others nor the weaknesses in themselves.

There is nothing surprising about the self-serving bias, but it is nonetheless important to give clear examples of it. We all easily fall prey to it.

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The Myth of the Absent Black Father
by Tara Culp-Ressler
ThinkProgress,  1/16/4

Considering the fact that “black fatherhood” is a phrase that is almost alwaysaccompanied by the word “crisis” in U.S. society, it’s understandable that the CDC’s results seem innovative. But in reality, the new data builds upon years of research that’s concluded that hands-on parenting is similar among dads of all races. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to bust this racially-biased myth.

The Pew Research Center, which has tracked this data for years, consistently finds no big differences between white and black fathers. Gretchen Livingston, one of the senior researchers studying family life at Pew, wasn’t at all surprised by the new CDC data. “Blacks look a lot like everyone else,” she pointed out.

Although black fathers are more likely to live separately from their children — the statistic that’s usually trotted out to prove the parenting “crisis” — many of them remain just as involved in their kids’ lives. Pew estimates that 67 percent of black dads who don’t live with their kids see them at least once a month, compared to 59 percent of white dads and just 32 percent of Hispanic dads.

And there’s compelling evidence that number of black dads living apart from their kids stems from structural systems of inequality and poverty, not the unfounded assumption that African-American men somehow place less value on parenting. Equal numbers of black dads and white dads tend to agree that it’s important to be a father who provides emotional support, discipline, and moral guidance. There’s one area of divergence in the way the two groups approach their parental responsibilities: Black dads are even more likely to think it’s important to financially provide for their children.

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Black Families: “Broken” and “Weak”
Structural Racism and Personal Responsibility