Friday, March 31, 2006

'Bad By Myself': Black Women Rethinking Marriage

I’d like to begin by saying thanks to John White for supporting this blog and my efforts. If not for his consistently emailing alarming articles to me, I wouldn’t be able to keep Blaxplanation going. This latest was spotted by John in The Washington Post. In an essay entitled, “Marriage is for White People,” author Joy Jones calls attention to the disturbing trend of African-American women choosing to remain single and attempts to explain why this is. I’ve posted John’s original email and my reply.

Hey, man.

I came across this article that appeared in the Washington Post on March 26th. Although the author throws out some interesting statistics and theories, I don't feel that her argument is sound nor does she delve into the BIG picture. She touches on some key issues about our culture and history but, the article seems hollow to me. Especially the whole "down low" comment. Just plain ignorant in my opinion. I'm not a believer in the "phenomenon" that it's supposed to be. I blame Oprah a bit for hyping it up. Anyway, what's your take?

Peace John,

Thanks for sending this. It is amazing to me that anyone who thinks of herself as a writer of any intelligence would submit this ridiculous assessment of African-American marriage. As you may well know, I've got some criticisms of it that don't even have anything to do with the stupid and inflammatory title.

First, if you're attempting to take an accurate picture of black life you CANNOT (I've argued this before) lump all black folks together with meaningless phrases like, "the black community." You simply can't do it. The black underclass is VASTLY different – in terms of attitudes towards marriage, family, and life in general – than middle and upper-middle class black America. If any of the marriage statistics that Jones uses are adjusted for socioeconomic level, I'm willing to bet that rates of marriage for us would be similar to whites. The reason why African-Americans are always in such a statistical ghetto is that so many of us are living in physical ghettos. A greater percentage of blacks are poor, and that has to do with historical and structural inequality. It is the height of irresponsible journalism to ignore this fact.

Second, I'm with you on this overblown "down low" phenomenon. The author's reference to "an era of brothers on the 'down low,'" rings particularly hollow. Apart from the lurid anecdotes of scum-of-the-Earth author and fulltime opportunist, JL King, who appeared on Oprah, I haven't seen much evidence supporting the idea that this is wide spread. Where is the data? Are African-American women being infected with HIV/AIDS at a higher rate than their white, Latino or Asian counterparts? Absolutely. But this doesn't prove that down low is the cause any more than needle sharing or any other risky behavior.

Third, the author alludes to other reasons why she and her peers are turning away from the idea of marriage including, economic freedom, fewer choices for mates, unwillingness to compromise their careers and lifestyles, etc. These are, of course, the same exact reasons that white women and others give for delaying or avoiding marriage altogether. Women began rethinking marriage ever since they began entering the workplace on a large scale. There is nothing endemic to black women in this. Yet, Jones somehow uses these reasons to support the idea that African-American women are exceptional because of their problems with marriage.

What this article boils down to is an unfocused, pseudo-evaluation of black singlehood & marriage. Jones references slavery, uses feminist ideology, pulls sociological data and advances race consciousness (and none too well) to support the assertion that African-Americans somehow value marriage less than members of other groups. Last time I checked, the divorce rate - another indicator of unhealthy relationships that Jones mentions only negligibly - was hovering at around 50% at a national level across racial lines.

As much as anyone, I would like to see more of our sisters find happiness and fulfillment in marriage. I also recognize the impediments to achieving this goal. But poorly-argued doomsday scenarios like these aren't helping anyone.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Your Worst Fear To The Rescue

I love irony. Particularly when it strikes at the heart of what we assume to be true regarding race. When many people envision young African-American men they may think of the criminally-inclined, indifferent, basketball-playing stereotypes pictured above. Black men, particularly when in groups of two or more, are generally viewed as dangerous even by other blacks.

My friend John emailed me a clip from the Today Show that I needed to share. The title of the segment is "Stranger Danger: Would Anyone Help Your Child?" In it, "Security Specialist" Bill Stanton tests the general publics' reaction to a possible child abduction. Unfortunately, most of the people who witnessed this 'kidnapping' kept right on walking. Not terribly surprising. Finally, however, two gentlemen did stop and take action. Guess what they looked like.


Monday, March 13, 2006

Democracy Denied: DC and Present Day Taxation Without Representation

License Plate As Political Protest Statement

Friday, March 03, 2006

Ray Nagin and the Art of Accountability Dodging

Yesterday, footage surfaced that clearly proves George W. Bush lied when he said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees," regarding the federal response to Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin’s response was predictable, “It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?” In light of this latest development in the ongoing game of ‘Who-Was-The-Most-Incompetent’ Hot Potato, I thought it would be additionally illuminating to examine some of the information that Ray Nagin had at his disposal.

In September of 2004, Hurricane Ivan, one of the strongest and most costly hurricanes on record, slowly spun toward New Orleans after decimating the Caribbean. Fortunately for the Crescent City, Ivan changed it’s path and went on to wreak destruction in coastal cities in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and North and South Carolina.

Spurred by the near miss, Shirley Laska, a researcher for the Center for Hazards Assessment at the University of New Orleans, constructed a nightmare scenario that described what would have happened if Ivan had stayed on it’s original path and hit the Big Easy. Laska’s research paper, candidly entitled “What if Hurricane Ivan Had Not Missed New Orleans,” gave an honest, brutal assessment of the flooding, evacuation challenges and damage to New Orlean’s infrastructure that would have occurred had the massive storm struck. This paper was sent to the Nagin Administration and, one can only assume, given it’s “response” to Katrina, promptly dismissed.

Far be it from me to let Bush – who inexplicably appointed former Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association, Michael Brown to head FEMA, and played the fiddle while New Orleans drowned, or FEMA itself for that matter – off of the hook. But I find it interesting that ol' Ray – the voice of Righteous Indignation during the Katrina disaster – continues to point the finger at Bush and FEMA and the state of Louisiana but refuses to take any blame for allowing New Orleans’s emergency evacuation plan to fall apart, stupidly bussing people to the Superdome, or ignoring the city’s impoverished communities and nursing homes altogether.

Like it or not, none of those things fall under the jurisdiction of FEMA, the State or the Fed. Those were CITY issues. Nagin is the mayor and he had several days advance warning that Katrina was on it’s way. It was his responsibility to act preventively on behalf of his constituency. To simply say that he failed in this would be to utter one of the most dramatic understatements in the history of the English language. Good ol' Ray should have the decency to take his place beside the oblivious Alfred E. Neumann look-a-like who runs the country, and his inept political appointee, in the hall of shame.


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