The No. 1 problem in America is MIA fathers. Actually, it’s an epidemic.
According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 33 percent of children under age 18 live absent their biological father. Millions more do not know their father or their father is physically present but emotionally absent and/or abusive. And according to a 2012 U.S. Census report, nearly 58 percent (black), 31 percent (Hispanic) and 21 percent (white) of children live absent their biological fathers.
Social science research, best compiled by the National Center for Fathering and briefly explained in the documentary “Irreplaceable,” evidence the reality that MIA fathers create broken homes, families, communities, and societies. Statistics repeatedly indicate that fatherless children commit the majority of crimes.
It’s not surprising then to learn that Michael Brown’s biological father was MIA for much of his life. Combining no father with an absent mother like Brown’s who defended her son’s behavior directly led to disaster.
On Aug. 9, no altercation would have occurred, let alone death, if Brown had stopped as Officer Darren Wilson had asked — a simple request to not walk in the street and block traffic — for his and others’ safety.
But neither walking in the street, nor caring about his or anyone else’s safety was of concern to him. Brown had just been aggressive with and robbed a convenience store worker.
The obvious ignored reality: Brown’s parents were MIA. He apparently did not have a father or mother to instill moral values for him to uphold the law and respect all people. He apparently was not taught to defend others nor corrected and punished for bullying. Instead his MIA mother condoned his disrespect for others’ lives, especially women.
Parents normally supervise their children’s social media and extracurricular activities. But one need only read Brown’s wannabe rap lyrics to observe his unchecked and/or permitted disrespect for others.
Consider, “Forgiveness,” which Brown posted online on Aug. 6, 2014:
“Smoking all this dope, till I choke
“m***********s are hating already”
“I ain’t even made in any gang yet
“matter fact **** you and your opinions.”
Or, “SMH Luh Vee Ft. Big Mike,” posted online on Aug. 7, 2014:
“Hey blood I be counting money by myself
“I’m a rich n**** so I got that wealth
“These rags I ****ing these fine hoes by myself
“while out smoking all these pills.”
Where were Brown’s parents when he was smoking pot and having sex with underage “hoes”?
Children who bully become teenage and adult bullies. Parents are responsible for this. Disciplining children with various consequences at home, or school expulsion, or legal juvenile detention are designed to protect and correct. All societies have rules. These are pretty basic ones.
But MIA parents and those who don’t discipline fail to protect children from committing crimes that land them in jail. Deliberately burning another’s property, arson, is a felony, knowingly burning or exploding, a felony, and both robbery and causing a catastrophe are felonies — the worst offenders can earn 30 years to life in prison.
MIA fathers are nowhere to be seen when black teens en masse burn, loot and kill throughout the country, targeting pizza deliverymen, hotdog vendors, veterans, college students, policemen, and others.
The solution to this mess is first to legally hold the news media accountable for inciting violence. Whether stricter control is required of information dissemination or of news editors implementing fact checking, regulations and legal enforcement must oversee and attempt to prevent the creation of sensationalism designed to boost ratings which result in hate crimes. The U.S. Constitution does not protect the press from reporting false information or inciting violence.
This includes prosecuting Al Sharpton and MSNBC for promoting violence that led to the murders of policemen in several states. Last week, as an MSNBC employee, Mr. Sharpton and others, coordinated a march against police. Protesters chanted, “What do we want? Dead Cops! When do we want it? Right Now!”
Within one week, from California to New York, police were attacked and killed.
An equally important solution is for ministers, community leaders and elected officials to initiate a national approach to the epidemic of fatherlessness. Public-private partnerships exist to strengthen communities and interpersonal relationships. Black men do have black leaders from whom they can learn and emulate.
But they must first confront the reality that racism exists within their own community. They must also reject the false notion that blacks can only represent a particular ideological base. Black men who have overcome much to achieve personal and professional success deserve respect and to be heard. (They include former Reps. J.C. Watts and Allen West, Academic Thomas Sewell, Dr. Ben Carson, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, Texas minister Voddie Baucham, former Chicago minister Archibald J. Carey Jr., whose sermons inspired the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and many others.)
To his credit, President Obama initially gave a handful of speeches about MIA fathers. But he later backed off because he was criticized for what’s known as “yellow complex” racism. (Harry Reid famously remarked “light-skinned” Obama had “no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.” Jesse Jackson said of Mr. Obama’s “moral lectures,” “I wanna cut [him]” for “talking down to black people.”)
Another solution, and in the spirit of Christmas, is to recognize that hope exists. “NCIS” character Tim McGee offers encouragement. He reflected, “A parent makes rules to help, but you can’t force kids to follow them no matter how hard you try. They have to make their own choices.”
Addressing a convict, he said, “You made bad choices and you were caught. You’re a criminal. But not doing the right thing because you have nothing to lose or gain? That just makes you a bad person.”
In light of his experiences, Mr. McGee remarked, “I finally realized what rules are all about — to prevent messes, problems, screw-ups, mistakes. But when messes and problems happen the rules are also there to protect us. And because each one of us live[s] by those rules we know that no matter how many we break, no matter how much we screw up, there will be someone to save us.
“Which is what Christmas is about too — someone giving us a second chance.”
He says to his father, “You taught me to admit when I was wrong. Communication was never our strong suit and we haven’t always seen eye to eye, but your rules, my breaking of them, our ensuing arguments, resulting punishments, all of this meant something to me. For it takes a man to make a man. You’ve helped make me one.”
The reality is that Brown and many others never had the chance to become men because they had no fathers to teach them. Solutions exist to remedy this epidemic. Young black men don’t have to become people like Mr. Sharpton or Brown’s MIA father who have blood on their hands. They can grasp their second, third or fourth chance, to recognize they are not alone and can choose life over death.
December 23, 2014