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Claudette Colvin and Respectability Politics

One of the unhealthy manifestations of social justice in the Blue Meme is respectability politics. Here we are defining respectability politics as advocating for black people that fit a mainstream view of acceptability. Mainstream defined as wealthy, chaste, orderly, and conformist. The story of Claudette Colvin shows of these mainstream standards that are set upon us by outsiders prevents advocating for all black people.

Claudette Colvin was a high schooler that had stopped straightening her hair one year before the not giving up her seat on a Montgomery bus. She lived in Montgomery Alabama when the Civil Rights Movement was heating up. Local black leaders had been looking for a way to challenge the city bus segregation law for years. The leaders had built resources and expertise that would be instrumental in 1955.

In March of 1955, Claudette boards a bus in front of the church Dr. King pastored. After a few stops more white passengers board, but there are no seats available for these passengers. The bus driver ordered Claudette to move to allow the whites to sit. Claudette said she felt the spirit of the ancestors pushing her down in her seat and she refused to move.

The bus driver called the police. When they entered they said “We have had trouble with that “thing” before.” They move closer and order her to leave. She refuses again. The grab her to drag her off the bus. In the scuffle, she scratched the officer. In an interview year later Claudette said she does not remember doing so and the scratch was not intentional. Whether the scratch was deliberate or not she was charged with, disorderly conduct, violating segregation law, and assault on an officer.

On the way to lock-up the police joke about her bra size and call her a “nigger-bitch.” They do not take her to juvenile hall which would be warranted if she was 17. They took her to an adult jail. She spends three hours there before her mother and pastor bail her out. Her father sat up all night with a loaded shotgun waiting for KKK retaliation.

The NAACP began working on her case immediately. She was introduced to Rosa Parks who was running a youth bible study. Claudette joined the Bible study and started to help in the civil rights movement. In court, they were able to overturn the two counts of disorderly conduct and violating segregation law, but assault on an officer stuck.

Many in the black community shunned Claudette as a troublemaker. The NAACP never publicly advocated for Claudette, so many black citizens were not fully aware of the importance of what she did. She says she entered a mild depression. The condition was exacerbated by her pregnancy later that year. Once the NAACP found out she was pregnant, she definitely could be the face of the boycott campaign. She was left pregnant and alone.

In fall of that year, Rosa Parks follows the footsteps of Claudette and refuses to give her seat up. Rosa a light-skinned, relatively well-educated, adult was a much better face of the movement. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was ultimately a success, but Claudette’s early sacrifice was forgotten.

Years later in an NPR interview, Claudette was asked why she could not be the face of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She says being pregnant would have been a distraction to the movement. However, another reason that Rosa was a better pick as a light-skinned woman with straight hair. Her look was more palatable to blacks and whites with a European standard of beauty. Having a dark-skinned woman with natural hair would not play well in the media.

Claudette’s contributions did not stop. The NAACP asked her to be part of a Supreme Court case against the Montgomery Bus System to end legal segregation in transportation, Browder v. Gayle. She again testified at the local, state, and national level putting herself and her new baby at risk. Once the NAACP won the case, they did not invite her or any other of the four plaintiffs to the celebration.

Claudette decided that her life may be better if she moved to the north. She began a career and never spoke about her part in the Civil Rights movement until 2004. A book written by Phil Hoose on her life was published in 2009 and won the national book award.

Respectability is an area social justice activist in the blue meme and those that understand a blue meme audience struggle. Yes, it is essential that our collective best foot is put forward when trying to win allies from outside the community. However, we must remember that those within the community need aide even if they are in difficult circumstances. 1955 would not have been an optimal time to tackle segregation and teen pregnancy. Yet, we have to find a way to prevent similar stories in the future.

Buy Colvin’s Biography Here

Sources

Teen Vogue Article

BBC Article

Black Past Article

Biography

Radio Diaries

NPR

Russia Today

Black Mothers, Black Sons, and Enmeshment

I want to start by saying I am not detailing problems unique in the black community or saying black people suffer from this pathology more. However, I will say that enmeshment coupled with economic disenfranchisement causes a different manifestation of enmeshment. This article will detail how I have seen this issue play out over time.
 
Enmeshment, also called emotional incest, is when a parent uses a child for emotional support in a way that is normal for a husband or boyfriend. The parent typically takes an opposite sex child and elevates them above their romantic partner. Due to this elevation, the child will have issues in his or her future romantic relationships. Enmeshment will manifest itself in a child with an irrational avoidance of intimacy or irrational need to rush intimacy in the child’s adult life.
 
Due to the system of economic disenfranchisement, black people have a harder time gaining employment. These financial stresses result in relationship difficulties in the black community and relationship failure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment for black men aged 20 – 24 is 17.2% for whites in the same age range it is 7.9%. For black women aged 20 -24 the unemployment rate is 11.6%, and white women’s unemployment is 6.3%. On top of having a higher unemployment rate, the jobs black people get lower paying. According to Brandeis University research the median income of a black family is $36,000 a year and a white family is $60,000 a year. Overall household wealth is the most tragic statistic. The average black family has $6,500 of wealth, and a white family has $91,000 of wealth.
 
The lack of money in the community causes fewer people to be financially prepared for marriage or a stable long term relationship. Even if a person’s long term relationship failed due to a non-economic reason such as cheating, the root-cause was a lack of financial resources causing strain in the marriage and resulting in arguments. A person might act out violently or sexually, but the underlying cause is still economical.
 
Economic problems aside, when a black woman does not have a romantic companion she does not have an emotional outlet or financial supporter. This lack of support leads to looking for support from sources that are not healthy. These non-healthy sources could be predatory religious organizations, predatory social groups, or men that are not emotionally stable. The worst source of emotional and financial support is their sons.
 
Enmeshment from an emotional aspect will include a mother telling her son aspects of her romantic life that he does not need to know. It is rare that a mother will tell her son about who she is having sex with or what is happening sexually. However, it does happen. The most common way emotional enmeshment happens is by berating and insulting a boy’s father in front of him. A boy sees himself as his father and an insult to his father is the same or worse than abusing the boy. Also, if a boy loses respect for his father, he will have no role model for his development. The boy will not be grounded in anything. The media’s perception of a black man will have complete control of the son. Diminishing a boy’s image of his father will destroy a boy’s core self-esteem.
 
Using a son as an emotional sounding board is another form of emotional enmeshment. A woman should not talk to a son about how hard it is to find a man and details of why her past relationships did not work. A son does not need to know if his mother is insecure about her body or if the mother is uncomfortable around men for any reason. A son should be aware of nothing about a mother’s dating life.
 
Financial enmeshment is an aspect of enmeshment not often discussed. Financial enmeshment is when a son is required or expected to give money to the mother to pay bills. Again, supplementing the household budget is the job of a husband or boyfriend. Financial enmeshment is not a child working to buy his things like school books, field trip tickets, and sports equipment. However, requiring a child to pitch into the household budget that is not eighteen years old reinforces the idea that intimacy is dependent on financial support. Coupling intimacy and financial support will cause suffering in the child’s future dating life.
 
A son’s need to financially support a mother is a paradigm more prevalent in the black community than the white community. Most black athletes in interviews talk about how they were able to buy their mother a house. Rarely does a white child say they had to or they wanted to buy their mother a house. The overall wealth of white people reduces the likelihood of a son needing to support the mother financially. It is far more likely a white woman will find a man that is financially stable or have a financially stable family member help her in hard times.
 
The financial and emotional aspect of enmeshment come together in a mother being overly invested in her child’s success for the purpose of her future economic benefit. When a mother pushes her child to be successful in school or sports, so he will one day the son financially support her, she will cause numerous emotional pathologies around that activity. A son will feel his essential manhood will be in question if he fails at school or sports. His core self-esteem will be tied to obtaining a goal that is very unlikely. If the son fails to attain the goal he could go into a severe depression.
 
How a mother can avoid enmeshing their son
 
The obvious methods to avoid enmeshment is proper family planning, building same sex friendships, and proper money management. There is a ton of information online to improve these areas of your life. The construction of same-sex friendships is the most important. If a person has friends of the same-sex, they can vent in a healthy manner. People with numerous same-sex friendships are more likely to have better romantic relationships because they are not expecting the romantic partner to fulfill them totally. A large part of having a healthy relationship is setting realistic expectations.
 
The less obvious method to prevent enmeshment is to evaluate the criticisms of their children. When children are coming up, they will make many unreasonable requests or get emotional when they do not get what they want. Children’s unreasonable request cause parents to write off whatever they are saying as irrational. If a child is expressing anger toward you for being emotionally draining listen with compassion. Often mothers attack sons when the sons criticize them. Normally, the mother accuses the son of being ungrateful. The mother then lists everything she has ever done for her son and remind him of all his failures. If a son’s frustration is not validated, the son will group up to repress his negative emotions around women. The repression of emotion will lead to horrible relationship dynamics in a child’s future.
 
Again, this article is not saying enmeshment is more prevalent in blacks. However, there is a peculiar manifestation in Black America. Also, the psychiatric community is not studying this phenomenon in black people closely enough. The purpose of this article is to get people talking about this issue. Enmeshment is a key contributor to relationship failure, and black people must understand enmeshment to have healthy relationships.

 

Why I disagree with Dr. Umar Johnson

Dr. Umar Johnson is a black scholar that speaks for the two parent household family model. He bases his theories in psychological defects caused by the absence of the father. One of his frequently used theories is that black people that do not have a father in the house will search for their father’s love elsewhere. In women, this will lead to promiscuity. In men, it will result in homosexuality. He also says that the black church derives its power from black women looking for a surrogate husband. In Johnson’s philosophy issues in the black community stem from promiscuity and a breakdown of traditional families.

There are many problems with his philosophy that I have heard repeated by numerous people in the black community. Johnson’s philosophies divided and ultimately weaken the black community. One, it excludes gay people that could be helpful in the overall movement. Two, it leads black people that are in traditional families shaming black people that are not in traditional families. Third, encourages hypermasculinity that is not conducive to today’s society.

DSM removed Homosexuality in 1973. Dr. Johnson as a psychologist should not still be treating homosexuality as a disease. Homosexuality, according to Johnson, is a problem in the black community and is a result and leading to single family households. He acts as if the goal of the black community should be procreation. Many people of all races decide not to have families. Many people of all races have gay people in them. If we as a community continue to promote homophobia we are only going to ostracize numerous black people and we will ostracize ourselves from the rest of the country.

Dr. Johnson does not hold his views on homosexuality due to psychiatric research. His views are solely based cultural biases. The idea that absence of the father causes homosexuality can be easily tested. Dr.Johnson presents no polls conducted by himself or others showing a statistics on homosexuality and single parent households.

In America in 2016, people are beginning to experiment with various types of relationships. Women and men are in open relationships or having non-traditional families. The shaming of these people only weakens the community. As the amount of people in traditional relationships decreases the “strong family” model will be less and less viable as a basis of black liberation.

All the women that are in non-traditional relationships are not there because they could not find a man. Dr. Umar Johnson does not make any concessions for a woman that is a single parent or just single due to a conscious decision. Everyone is not looking for the same type of relationship anymore. People evaluate all types of relationships and which ones best fit her personality. A woman can logically decide that she wants many lovers throughout her life.

It would be difficult to prove scientifically that a single parent household causes psychological damage. Other factors such as income, mental health of the parent, neighborhood, etc. would need to be controlled. Also, each case must be analyzed to see what options the mother has available to her. If he father is emotionally under developed, then a single parent situation could be better. All these issues need to be addressed and accounted for in Dr. Johnson’s methodologies.

Dr. Umar Johnson calls for black men to step up and control the household. He wants the “old school” model of the family. The “old school” model calls for a man to be dominant and a woman to be passive. Much of Dr. Johnson’s rhetoric sounds like advice from the 1950’s. These old models of relationships were discarded long ago. Attempting to artificially force them on people that know relationships are far more complex than this will not work. If anything it will lead to a form of hyper-masculinity that is juvenile and sexist.

This juvenile form of masculinity was on full display with Dr. Boyce Watkins challenged Dr. Umar Johnson credentials. Also, a person on Dr. Watkin’s youtube challenged Dr. Johnson on his plans to create a school. Dr. Watkins who has a Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky asked Dr. Johnson where he received his doctorate from and if he could get a copy of his thesis. The social media battle is well documented and can be googled if the reader has not already heard about it. It ultimately resulted in Dr. Johnson making a ton of negative memes on Dr. Watkins.

Jordan vs Ali

The video above is a critique of Dr. Boyce Watkins criticism of Michael Jordan. Scoop Jackson article praising Jordan for his contributions to the black community inspired both videos. Jordan has always been a controversial figure in the black community due to his lack of activism specifically on robberies committed to acquire Jordan basketball shoes. Many in the black community thought Jordan should speak out and hold events to stop these robberies. Jordan’s protest never happened.

   Another issue Jordan did not speak out against was the election of Senator Jesse Helms in 1990 and 1996.  A black Democrat Harvey Gantt opposed Helms. Helms was known as a racist and regressive Republican candidate. If Jordan had endorsed Gantt, there is a possibility he could have won and removed a candidate that was not at all sympathetic to black people.

   In spite of Jordan’s lack of social consciousness, he has made great strides in business and pioneered financial achievement. He is the only player to transitioned from player to principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets. He also owns the sneaker brand Air Jordan which is a subsidiary of Nike. These accomplishments have created $1 billion in wealth for Jordan.

   In the Watkins video, Muhammad Ali represented a model black athlete. Watkins praised Ali for speaking out against the Vietnam War and a myriad of other black issues. Black Patriarch video criticized Ali’s activism. Black Patriarch pointed out Ali has left no institution behind to employ black people, and Ali has not created wealth for anyone but himself. Ultimately, Jordan created tangible benefits as well as inspiration. Ali only provided inspiration.

   The goal of this article is not to prove that one athlete is a “liability and one a possibility” as Dr. Umar Johnson would say, but to show that they are just operating out of different value memes. Muhammad Ali operating from the red or ego-centric value meme and Michael Jordan is operating out of the orange or goal-centric value meme. Both men’s contribution within their value meme is worthy of praise.

I classify Muhammad Ali as ego-centric value system due to steadfast rhetoric in the face of harsh consequences. His most notable example of this was his opposition to the Vietnam Draft.  As a member of the Nation of Islam, they did not believe in fighting in a war not started by a Muslim. He not only refused to report for the draft, but he also spoke boldly on the invalidity of the war. His refusal to join the war effort ultimately led to Ali not being allowed to box from 1967 to 1970, which could have been the prime of his career, in addition to five years in prison.

   It is important to remember when someone speaks about an ego-centric value system that is not the same as a self-centered value system. Ali did not report from the draft because he felt the war was unjust. The NOI influenced him, but even his decision to join NOI was based on his assessment of the movement and not what was socially acceptable. His ideals created the basis for his value system. His decision to not join the draft gave voice to millions of disenfranchised black people fighting and not fighting in the war. Ali’s life shows when a person is acting from his core principles; he is a benefit to everyone.

   One of the drawbacks of operating in the ego-centric value system is unintentionally hurting others with your actions. After Ali’s boxing exile he made one of the greatest comebacks in sports history. The culmination was the rivalry between Ali and Joe Frazier. Ali taunting Frazier through the media preceded each of their three bouts. The insults hurled against Frazier included calling him stupid, claiming all the Frazier fans were Klansmen, and calling Frazier a gorilla. These insults are reminiscent of the most hurtful stereotypes of black men. Also, Frazier grew up in the slums of Philadelphia, and his contribution to the black empowerment struggle should not be discounted. Ali made the same mistake many other people in the red meme make, self-aggrandizement and unintentionally hurting other people with your actions.

   I classify Michael Jordan as goal-centric. My assessment is not solely due to his six championship rings, achieving his goals were always first in his mind. As mentioned earlier, Jordan did endorse Harvey Gantt and help to remove Jesse Helms from office. It is questionable how much good it would have done. North Carolina was a heavily Republican state, and many people would not have voted for a black senator at that time in North Carolina. However, his quote will live in infamy “Republicans buy sneakers too”. Understand he did not evaluate the situation and determine what decision best fits his core principles. He decided what move will not hinder the building of my billion dollar brand.

   Now that we have solidified he is goal centric let us look at the results and see if he accomplished his goals. As mentioned earlier, he is now worth 1 billion dollars and owns two major businesses, Air Jordan and the Charlotte Hornets. He has given today’s athletes a blueprint on how to convert their physical talent into a brand that can create intergenerational wealth. Owning a sports team may never enter the consciousness of a young black athlete if it was not for Michael Jordan. His businesses are currently providing jobs for numerous black people. He has left behind a tangible legacy that many black people can emulate.

   In conclusion, both these men did things that helped and hurt the black community. They are just people like the rest of us. When observing them, we should keep in mind the social context they were working within and the values that drive them. One man will never fully embody our aspirations. It is important to see things the way they are and not through some overarching ideal.

Does Race Follow You Into a Room?

When I was in high school, I read Booker T. Washington’s Up from Slavery. I do not remember much of it after 20+ years. However, I do remember one phrase. “When you walk into a room, the entire race follows you.” The idea Washington was trying to get across was that your actions would reflect on your entire race. If you come in a room, and you are rude and disrespectful, then all the white people in the room will see the entire race that way. If you are polite and courteous that will win favor and help to change the opinion of white people.

I am not going to bash Washington on my site. I feel his ideas and viewpoints were appropriate for their historical context.  I do not consider Washington a sellout, I consider him a pragmatist that worked within the limits of the time. I do want to challenge this idea of the need to validate yourself to the world and show how this idea manifests itself on a macroscopic scale and a microscopic level.

I will begin with how it manifests itself on a microscopic level. I know, in my life, I have gone out of my way to work hard and behave in an ethical manner. I would like to say that my motivation was the high standards that I set for myself. I know deep down it is not. I realized that in this political and social system being black was already a disadvantage. If I was going to be successful, I could not give society any reason to halt my progress and label me as a stereotype.

This idea was detrimental to my personal relationships. The largest issue i had was to set myself apart from the stereotypical black man; I began to distance myself from all black people. I started to look down on spaces that were predominantly black. I went out of my way to assimilate. I considered living in predominantly all black neighborhoods as a symbol of low status. I prided myself on not being like THEM. I considered myself above other black people.

In addition to superiority to other black people, I needed to feel accepted by white people. The need to solidify by superiority led me to seek non-black friends. When I was around them, I felt that I was lucky to have any friends at all because I had low core confidence. I did not stand up for myself. There were many times I allowed them to say things to me that were horribly out of line.  I felt powerless in the relationship. I felt if they felt I was too much trouble they would simply stop dealing with me. I felt like I needed to entertain them to keep them around. These “friends” did not see the inherent value in me.

My inherent lack of self-worth colored my perceptions of these relationships. However, being black my feelings of negative self-worth were reinforced by the society around me. I understand many white men do not feel validated and are push overs. But for a white man to get to this place he had to undergo some trauma specific to his life. Black people go through this regardless of nurturing and loving personal relationships early in life.

I will say that other black people manifest these same insecurities in a need to show off wealth, sexual prowess, or strength. I would like for blacks to understand the root causes of their suffering. The thorough understanding of your pain will prevent people from labeling some as “Uncle Toms” and others as embarrassments to the race. Once we deeply understand how insecurity affects us, we will not have these dismissive labels anymore. If a person sees another black person exhibiting Tomish behavior, know that it is a form of his insecurities and that you have the same insecurities manifesting themselves in a different manner.

On a macroscopic scale, you see this need to please in John Lewis’s recent Twitter statement on the Dallas police shootings. “I was beaten bloody by police officers. But I never hated them. I said, ‘Thank you for your service.”  This tweet on top of being self-righteous is simply pandering to the white elite that wants stability above all else. It is similar to Washington’s ideal. He wants to show his benevolence.  He is an example of a “good black”. The same thing happened after the Charleston shooting. Black leaders ran out to forgive the Charleston shooter even though the shooter did not ask for forgiveness. The examples of this behavior are too numerous to count.

It is impossible to analyze this behavior without fully understanding the history of the black empowerment struggle. So many of our organizations have been infiltrated and undermined by the federal government. COINTELPRO destroyed our most radical organizations such as SNCC and Black Panthers. To prevent white backlash, many other organizations and leaders go out of their way to prove that they are harmless. There is a very practical aspect of this strategy.

The other reason to rush to forgiveness is to hold moral authority. The only power that black people have in their struggle is moral authority. We do not have money, political power, military strength, but we know we are right. Also, our opponents know that we are right. Moral authority is how Dr. King accomplished what he was able to accomplish. He won people to his cause because they knew that what he wanted was reasonable. Dr. King’s protester’s ability to stay peaceful in spite of the most hateful abuse proved their exceptional morality. Morality won the sympathy of whites and together with the white allies they were able to change laws.

The old strategy had its time and place, but today is a new day. It is important that we fully feel and express our anger. Also, the offending party needs to ask for forgiveness. The offending party asking for forgiveness will do two things, validate our anger and ensure the forgiveness is appreciated, and a change in behavior will then occur. The principle of requiring offending parties to ask forgiveness is true in personal relationships and race relations.  

If we are going to correct our behavior we have to understand forgiveness. Forgiveness is the act of releasing the need for retribution. It assumes that you were wronged, and it is morally acceptable to ask for retribution. The reason it is considered an extraordinary event is that in spite of retribution being justified the person relinquishes the right for an even greater good. Both the offender and offended need to realize this fact and mend the relationship.

If you are obligated to forgive to prove that you have the moral high ground, you will not fully endure the first stage of feeling the anger and expressing it. A person will also not fully realize that he is worthy and justified in his need to retribution. If a person does not go through this stage, then he can simply not grant forgiveness, just as a homeless person cannot give you $100, a man that has not fully felt his need for retribution cannot grant forgiveness. The offending party must also ask for forgiveness. The offending parties asking for forgiveness shows they understand the fact that they did something worthy of retribution and appreciate forgiveness.

When we rush to forgiveness, we only demonstrate that we have no power to act on our need for retribution. The rush to forgiveness reinforces inferiority complexes in black people. Once we overcome the idea at we need to prove our morality, we can start demanding treatment and recognition as equals. The real recognition of equality will have to be demanded by black people. Full equality will require a recognition of our rights by white people.

The idea that “Your race follows you into a room” is nothing more than an acknowledgment of your inferiority complex. Black people should be collectively working toward internally feeling equal to white people and externally showing their equality. To do this, a few individuals may speak violently or commit violent acts. We are not obligated to immediately denounce them or show how much we love our enemies. Black people must fully build our collective ego or as some call it the black “Nos”.

Black Single Parent Households

I have been listening to many black empowerment pundits, such as Dr. Umar Johnson, and many of them talk about the importance of two-parent households.  Most of his rhetoric on family pushes the need for a two parent household. He conveys the message that single mother households are solely the result of black men leaving black women due to a lack of psychological development. I want to challenge the idea that a lot of single mother households are a problem or retard the growth of the black community.

   The first issue I take with Dr. Umar Johnson is that single mother households result from lack of psychological development of either the man or the woman. A single mother household can be the result of deep introspection. If a woman determines that she does not want a monogamous relationship and attempting to commit will cause enough emotional strain to detract from raising the child, then a co-parenting relationship maybe the best thing. Black people, just like all other races, are not longer sold on the idea of traditional relationships or the institute of marriage. It leads us to explore other parenting styles.

   The second issue I take with Dr. Umar Johnson is even if the relationship is the result of lack of psychological development, the most prudent course is to move from a single parent to a co-parenting relationship. If two people did not have the mental development to take precautions to prevent pregnancy, then it is not realistic to assume they can build a relationship and raise a child. It is much more realistic to concentrate on raising the child and work on the romantic relationship later.

Buddhism teaches that nothing is inherently good or bad, we arbitrarily put these labels on events to explain how we feel about them on an emotional level. With this understanding in mind, let us look at the advantages of a single parent household.

  1. Children learn independence at a young age.
  2. Attention from the parent will not change due to problems with a romantic relationship
  3. The relationship between the child and parent can become deeper due to a parent not being distracted.
  4. A single parent has total control over the rearing of the child.

The list above is just some of the possible advantages of a single parent relationship. A single parent household has the potential to be more stable than a two parent household provided the woman has a steady flow of income of support from the community or her family. A co-parent household and generate a similar list of pros, but the reader is smart enough to determine those advantages on their own.

   The most detrimental situation for a child is a single mother household in which the mother feels that she has to get a man for validation. In this case, a woman will engage in risky behavior and devalue herself in a relationship to gain a perceived advantage. The child will then see and mimic this behavior later in life. As a community, we must build each other’s confidence and encourage behavior made from a place of empowerment.

   Many of our black leader and the black church want black people to return to the way we were back during the Civil Rights Movement. They talk about a time in which we all worked together and had two parent households. The problem with this philosophy is that we are not the same people from the 1960’s. Our leaders must lead from where we are now. They must also see the good and the bad in who we are now. Yes, the crack cocaine epidemic ravaged the black community. At that same time, many black people benefited from government programs to educate black people and help us get jobs. Yes, we have black people that advance in society and lose connection to their people. At the same time, we have many people that work in the community with tools and skills they learned from the greater society. Admonishing people for not being as they were two generations ago only alienates people that could be a great help. We need to learn to love and accept each other the way we are now.  

   As a community, we should also look at the damage caused by admonishing single parent households. When leaders such as pastors, stand-up and say not having a man in the house will cause sons to be homosexual and daughters to become promiscuous they reduce the self-confidence of the followers in this situation. This mentality is especially unfortunate in the case of Dr. Umar Johnson, as a clinical psychologist, he does not reference any scientific data to prove any of these assumptions. There is no reason he could not conduct a clinical study himself to show single parent households are damaging to children. All his assumptions are anecdotal from his personal experience as a psychologist. Dr. Johnson harms people by putting in their consciousness that their relationship is in some way inferior. As a community, we must be more careful about what we say and how we say it.

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