Are Senator Barack Obama’s assertions about irresponsible Black men the result of unresolved issues he has with his own father? As a psychologist I must question Sen. Obama’s perceptions as well as the general perceptions we have about Black men and their relationships to their children.
Barack’s Kenyan father won a scholarship that allowed him to leave Kenya to pursue his educational dreams. At the time of his birth, Obama’s parents were students at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Sen. Obama’s parents separated when he was two years old and later divorced. The assumption is that Barack’s father abandoned him. America’s aberrant Black culture is matriarchal, highly controlled and influenced by the woman.
Unlike America, African culture is paternalistic. Typically the woman submits to the guidance of her husband. Obama’s mother was intelligent enough to know about African culture and structural family roles. However, she reserved the right to make decisions regarding her life and that of her son. With all due respect to Sen. Obama and his mother, we don’t know why his parents separated and divorced. Who left who? Was it a mutual decision? Sen. Obama was raised by his mother who could only provide him with her perception of his father.
Sen. Obama stated at a speech in Chicago on June 15 “Black fathers are missing from too may lives and too many homes” however, assumptions about why Black men are absent are not as valid as they may appear. Not all absent fathers have willingly abandoned their responsibilities.
The popular urban myth about irresponsible Black men should be viewed as an insult to Black women who are portrayed as mindless victims of Black men. The myth that somehow a man is to blame for every decision a Black woman makes is blatantly wrong and disrespects the Black woman’s right to make decisions whether responsible or not. Times have changed. Black women demand their independence and the right to make their own decisions. Some of us are totally out of touch with the “Modern Black Woman.” Certainly we should respect Black women, however, Black women, like Black men, often make bad decisions about how they choose to conduct their lives including controlling their sex drives which are equal to or greater than that of Black men. How many little teenage girls are already in hot pursuit of a boy and actually want to have his baby? How many Black women are attracted to men they know are irresponsible that have no desire to either marry or raise children? How many women know that the men they choose to sleep with are married or are already committed to another woman?
Many Black women reserve the right to have sex without commitment. Many of today’s financially independent women now relish a lifestyle that was once reserved for men. They, like the men, consciously and actively pursue living for a weekend of nightclubbing, consciously and freely pursuing men and competing with other women for “Mr. Masculine” Black man. Women have always exercised feminine selective breeding and the right to kick the man they perceived as the weaker man to the curb–in search of their fantasies. Many working class women drive their own cars, own their homes and can freely choose with whom they go home. Heavy drinking and unprotected and irresponsible sex is the order of the day.
The statistics about children being raised without fathers do not factor out children conceived as the result of “one night stands with strange men.” How many women actually desire to be single mothers? They want a child but do not want a man and do not desire commitment? How many lesbian women who want children are counted in the statistics regarding single female parents? How many women prefer to get undocumented money from the child’s father and lie about their child’s father being absent in order to get government support?
White Supremacist strategies date back to the slave masters’ Willie Lynch Plan for creating divisions between the male and female, young and old. These divisions allow the master to control the Black masses. This strategy was echoed during the 60s and 70s to undermine the Black Revolutionary Movement taking place in America and Africa. The government plotted the planned destruction of the Black family. (Read Nathan and Julia Hares The Endangered Black Family, Coping with Unisexualization and the Coming Extinction of the Black Race 1984.) Unisexualization means Black men and women would be programmed to act alike. This included the promotion of the gay and lesbian “lifestyles” and the programmed unemployment of Black men coupled with the programmed high employment of Black women. The so-called “Independent Black Woman” was created by the government through the use of the media. Oprah Winfrey became the symbol of the successful and independent Black woman who doesn’t need a man. All the independent woman needs is a stud who meets her sexual needs. Woman who wrote books about “no good Black men” were rewarded with fame and wealth.
In America and in Africa major efforts were centered around population control. Government strategies fostered female independence by, among other things, the use of the birth control pills, abortions and even sterilization. The government promoted Racist White Supremacy-based assumptions that Black men have an innate disregard for their children and families. The Black Community and the “Men of the Village” have opted to further indict and victimize the Black males who are themselves victims. They are the more vulnerable targets of our collective guilt and impotence. We are impotent to create those businesses, industries and institutions that are needed to uplift our people. In an attempt to alleviate our guilt we join the assault against Black men. To do so allows us to alleviate our sense of powerlessness and guilt. If we are to empower young Black men and women to fulfill their ancestral will, we must promote a unified base that holds both genders equally responsible for their actions.
(Dr. Davidson is a Kansas City, Missouri based Clinical Psychologist and author of several books.)