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It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father” (Quotes and sayings). Commonly, this is true for many African-American men who have children; they lack the resources, dexterity and education that is required to become a real, reliable father. Although fatherlessness affects everyone regardless of demographics or culture, it has really taken its toll in the African–American communities.

Despite the fact that it may be facile for Americans to sweep the issue under a rug, the reality is the intricacy still exists and is spiraling out of control. Sequentially, the challenges that accompany fatherlessness in American society must be addressed or disturbances will continue to affect all Americans. Furthermore, several organizations foresee the turmoil that lies ahead and have intervened to reverse the situation such as the changing fatherhood movement.

The changing fatherhood movement correlates with Jo Freeman’s proposition theory because it contains the three core fundamental elements: preexisting communications, co-optable communications and precipitants, which are required for a social movement to evolve. However, recent trends in family-formation have taken a trajectory that clearly affects the community or any intact social group. Changing Fatherhood is an ongoing social movement that has yet to be successful. In order for the continuation and progression of the movement, the Resource Mobilization Theory must be applied and sustained.

Just like the deprivation theory, the emergence of the movement began with a large population of people who felt a sense of injustice and has begun raising awareness using various resources, such as the internet, social networking sites, etc… but the upraise of the movement itself is very recent and is in the bureaucratization stage. Furthermore, the movement would most certainly be classified as a reformative movement, which seeks an immense change in the way African-American fathers interact with their children in American society.

Although the issue affects all three classes, the lumpenproletariat class is particularly affected. This is due mainly because they lack the means, skills, and education that is required to progress in America’s ever changing society. Despite the fact that, family and marriage life has been analyzed with the individual participants as the core of reference, a change in family-composition not only affects the immediate family but the community as well.

According to the National Center for Fathering, when long-lasting relationships between a man and a woman are unsuccessful within a community that community is exposed to an innumerable amount of (reproductive) health and behaviorally related abnormalities, which occur a generation later (African-American Families). These victims (children) of fatherlessness try to connect with a family, as they been longing to have one. After being rejected, they often turn to drugs, gangs, and criminal activities trying to fill the void of that absent parent.

For many years, children have described and felt the burdens of an absent father whether it was through bad grades, discipline problems, etc… Meanwhile, society is just now starting to acknowledge on a widespread basis what children have been trying to interpret to society all along; fatherlessness is one of the greatest injurious forces to children in American society. It is one of the biggest social issues communities in America face. The decline of fatherhood is a huge factor behind the various problems that plague America.

It promotes criminal activity and anti-social behavior, juvenile delinquency, out of wedlock births to teenagers, increase in incarceration rates, exponential growth of poverty amongst women and children, and numerous psychological problems. Although rarely discussed, fatherlessness is responsible for a large percentage of drama and trauma within the African-American communities. Gangs have contributed to a large percentage of criminal activities that plaque the African-American communities. They rip apart communities and disrupt schools.

Even though most gang violence occurs between rival gangs of the same ethnic background, gang activity affects nearly everyone in the community in some personal way. In America’s schools, gangs frequently generate an environment of intimidation and fear that can nearly make it impossible for students to learn. Gangs today engage in a wide variety of crimes; their influence on the flow of crack and other drugs into schools and communities has resulted in additional social problems. Unfortunately, the black market makes it easy to obtain a firearm, which has heightened the fear of gangs.

In the past, it was rare that gang members turned to handguns and semiautomatic weapons, but preferred to rely on their fists to resolve disputes. Sadly, this is not the case today. According to The National Center for Victims of Crime, there are over 200 million firearms in the United States and many of them are in the hands of gang members (Gangs in America). In many cities and other urban areas, the problem has gotten so out of control schools systems were forced to use vital educational resources to install metal detectors to increase safety for facility and students.

It is terrifying knowing that there is a tremendous amount of firepower in the hands of American youth. The issue that arises with placing such power is the disturbing fact that most juveniles are not good shooters; this ultimately results in a large number of innocent bystanders falling victim to drive-by shootings. Often times, people in communities that have been ravaged by gang violence fear the stray bullets the most. As a tragic example, one too many children have been killed in Chattanooga’s lower income communities in recent years because of bullets from gang crossfire.

When the advantages of gang life exceed the risks, gang populations grows. There have been various contributing factors as to why gangs thrive such as poverty, lack of parental supervision, breakdown of the structure of the community and the church, or the breakdown in the African-American family structure. However, no reason is solely responsible. So many African-American youth rely on the structures of gangs to give them a sense of belonging, a representation of the “family” they never had.

Often times youth is misled into thinking that gang banging gives them security, power, self-esteem, companionship, and relief of frustration, but the reality is that way of life does not have a fairy tale ending. This tragic path will take you to cell- block nine or worse in the grave. As more and more African-American males commit criminal activities, more are being incarcerated. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics document that over the years, the United States correctional facilities have seen an unprecedented increase of incarceration rates, estimating 2. million inmates, over a 500 percent rise since the 1970’s. This growth has been followed by a steady increase of disproportionate racial composition, with particularly higher rates of incarceration for African Americans, who now make up 900,000 of the total 2. 2 million residing in American prisons systems (U. S. Incarceration Rates by Race). The use of incarceration has had reasonable success at best contributing to public safety. Meanwhile it lends a hand in family disruption and the weakening of informal social controls in numerous African American communities.

Statistics document that one out of six black men has fallen victim to incarceration as of 2001 (Crime Type). At this rate, one in three black males born today can count on at some point in their life spending time in jail, as opposed to Hispanic and Caucasian males. Although, these national figures are disturbing, they mask the extreme state-level variations of incarceration that influence communities of color. Without a doubt, African-Americans on welfare are the highest among all minorities; many have been relying on welfare benefits from generation to generation.

The numbers continue to rise and it appears that the African-American community is headed in the wrong direction. This causes one to ponder whether welfare is a trap that far between are able to escape. Furthermore, housing projects seem more like a jail cell than government assistance. Children learn from their parents and children are learning more about surviving off welfare benefits than concentrating on furthering their education. Millions of African-American children grow up in housing projects where drugs and violence are common.

It is hard to say why one child will find the desire and courage to fight his or her way out of the projects and another child does not. The amounts that escape the system are few compared to the amounts that grasp the system. Unfortunately, for many African-Americans it has become a way of life. Welfare is an issue the African-American community must address. It must consider that welfare may be more destructive than beneficial. No one should become accustomed to welfare as a way of life. All of the above issues contribute to the weakening of America’s society, which affects all Americans.

The tax’s payers pay for resources like prisons and welfare systems through their taxes dollars. Despite the fact that prisons are enforced to protect the public from criminals and welfare is supposed to assist the poor, but the truth of the situation is prison is a Band-Aid to the real issue at large and welfare benefits enable people to take advantage of the system. It is understood that these facilities and benefits are needed to protect the public from criminal activity and support the needy, but if Americans dealt with the problem at the grass root, less facilities and benefits would be needed.

The money that is being spent on prison and welfare systems could be going towards America’s education systems. Since the funding of inner city, schools mysteriously dissipate each year. The African-American family structure has been cursed since the beginning of time when they were disgorged from gruesome slave ships and their feet hit American soil. It is not surprising that there is an exponential growth of fatherlessness in the African-American communities today.

Despite the fact that slave marriages and family units went without sanction, and masters had the freedom to liquidate husbands away from wives and parents away from children, which ultimately left the family structure weak and vulnerable. Slaves had few opportunities to build family systems since they were often kept in sex-segregated quarters during the seventeenth century. The nuclear family relied on the assistance from an involved network of kin. In fact, the kinship conformity steadily moved forward into the twentieth-century rural and urban communities as a foundation of mutual support and cultural progression despite slavery.

This kinship network was a key element in helping slaves endure such painful family breakups. Whenever children were auctioned off to bordering plantations, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins frequently accepted the responsibility of parents. Often times, African-American children were not raised by their parents, but instead cared for by kin even when the parents were still alive. Even among two-parent households, blacks were four times more likely to have children living elsewhere. Following the civil war family breakup, nevertheless, was obviously indispensably common due to sale.

Even when marriages where not shattered by sale, slave husbands and wives often resided on separate farms or plantations and were property of various individuals. In addition, during 1850 and 1880, between 26 and 31 percent of African American families were headed by women—ordinarily two to three times the rate amongst immigrant or native-born Caucasians. This deflection gives the impression to be resulting not from a growth in divorce, desertion, or illegitimacy, but rather to pointedly distort African-American sex ratios in urban areas and to large numbers of adult African-American male mortality.

According to an analysis of a 1910 census, African-American mothers were more than three times as feasible to be dwelling in the absence of a male partner in the home, unlike Caucasian mothers with children. According to U. S. 1988 census, 64 percent of all African American births transpired out of wedlock, as a opposed to 18 percent of all Caucasian births (Census Bureau Marriages). Some may argue that this dramatic increase in children born out of wedlock was due to a sharp rise in childbearing among unmarried African American females. According to Charlene Chester, African Americans are less likely to marry, stay married, or remarry.

As a result, they spend far less of their life in a marriage than do Caucasian women, Caucasian women can expect to spend less than half of their lives married. Among African American women, marriage rates have plunged from 40 percent to 22 percent, which is equivalent to the amount of time that the average college-educated person spends attending school (African-American Families). Marriage has become just an ephemeral stage of life for African Americans, followed by an extended period of singlehood and preceded by an elongated period of living without a spouse.

For African Americans, even more so than for Caucasians, a lengthy, stable marriage is the exception rather than the rule. Furthermore, African American children are about half as likely as Caucasian children are to be residing with both parents, or with a single parent or with a stepparent (41 percent versus 81 percent). Additionally, they are about eight times more likely to be living with a never-married parent (31 percent versus 4 percent) and again they are more than half as likely to be living with a separated or divorced parent (25 percent versus 14 percent).

This increase could be the result of the lack of contraception or education (African-American Families). Sadly, it is thought that this legacy of slavery is to blame for the increase of occurrence of single-parent, female headed households among African Americans today. It is without doubt that children who are raised in a fatherless home, by far have a much greater risk of experiencing major challenges in life than those who grow up with a father residing in the home. According to U. S.

Department of Health, 63 percent of youth who commit suicide, 85 percent of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders, 71 percent of all high school dropouts, 13 percent juvenile delinquents, and 70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions are all from fatherless homes (African-American Families). In a recent study conducted by Charles F. Kettering, children from low-income, two-parent families outperform students from high-income, single-parent homes. Almost twice as many high achievers come from two-parent homes as one-parent homes.

Additionally, Children that reside in single-parent households or in step-families exhibit lower educational expectations on the part of their parents, less parental supervision of school work, and less overall social guidance than children from intact families. Furthermore, boys who grow up in father-absent homes are more likely than those are in a father-present home to have problems building suitable sex roles and gender identity. In a longitudinal study, researchers discovered that there was a greater level of aggression in boys from mother-only households, as opposed to boys in mother-father households.

They are also twice as likely to end up incarcerated as those who come from traditional two-parent families, those boys whose fathers were absent from the home had double the odds of being in jail even when other factors such as race, income, parent education, and urban residence were held steady. A young males chances of becoming involved in criminal activity doubles if he is raised without a father and triples if he lives in a neighborhood with a high concentration of single-parent families. These statistics are alarming and should give any father pause.

The Changing Fatherhood Movement is eager to change the stereotypes that have been placed upon absent fathers; instead, the movement wants fathers to be viewed as assets in their children’s lives. The movement also wants to supports the social well-being of fathers from all aspects of life and seeks to mobilize fathers using intense community forums, workshops, support group initiatives, social media applications as well as providing seminars to help fathers become more engaged with their children. Linking fathers with community-based resources is the first step in the process; they must be taught key elements to responsible fatherhood.

Building better men is an essential part of strengthening healthy family development and community life, in doing so will create stability so that he can provide for his family. Americans have a growing need to change many of the stereotypical images that are seen in marketing. Historically, mainstream media have minimized the role of fathers. While several television examples of responsible fatherhood can be cited (The Cosby Show, Father Knows Best, The Bernie Mack Show, Bonanza, etc. ) the majority of images depict fathers as incapable of raising children.

It is important that Americans begin reconstructing family units and communities by providing guidance and instruction on how to be a better father. A large percentage of fathers are interested in reconnecting with their children but lack the skills and/or support to begin the healing process. President Barack Obama stated, “I think it’s time for a new conversation about fatherhood in this country” (Fabian, Jordan). That is exactly what he has done; in a press release on June of 2010, he announced his responsible fatherhood, marriage and innovation fund that promotes effective fatherhood and family-strengthening programs across the country.

The fund is part of a nationwide fatherhood initiative that the president said is designed to raise awareness about the importance of fatherhood and help absent fathers re-engage with their families. Obama knows all too well, the pain, suffering, and the damages that go along with an absent father, since his father left his family when he was two years old. He has also provided Department of Labor funding for transitional jobs programs for noncustodial parents facing barriers to employment.

Although Obama recognizes that it is impossible to legislate fatherhood, the fund will reinforce local initiatives that are assisting families to stay together. It could be said that the African-American family structures were doomed for failure from the beginning. With slavery attributing to many obstacles that the African-American communities face, these problems can still be seen today, including fatherlessness. For many generations there has been a cycle of deadbeat fathers that have torn apart traditional American family composition; this sequence must be broken before it causes further damages.

The lack of fathers has affected American society as a whole leaving society unsubstantially vulnerable to numerous social problems. Over the years, an alarming percentage of children go to sleep every night without a hug, kiss or a warm and gentle “I love you” whisper from their father. Likewise, the movement understands this circumstance is one that Americans have the power to change. Children are not looking for superheroes or super parents, but rather looking for responsible parents to provide them with unconditional love, support and guidance.

They could care less if their parents were prefect but instead prefer their parent’s warm embrace, reassuring them that all is well. Maybe one day, African-American children will have the opportunity to have a father back in the home to create stability, rituals and customs to ensure the success of his family.

“The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander Pope

“The Rape of the Lock” by Alexander Pope.

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