By Bret Searles
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin
At present, African Americans stand at the crossroads of great hopes for wealth and freedom exceptional for the great-and great, great-grandchildren of former slaves and great despair caused by family disintegration, generational poverty, educational disparities and the digital divide. The threat is that we will form a permanent underclass is this new society as the demand for skilled and highly educated workers and new business owners reaches a peak.
You might not like me too much for the data I present in this chapter that reveals the depths of our situation. Bill Cosby has been speaking out about these things and has taken some heat for his coarse rhetoric. We can’t change our situation until we know what we are changing. I believe that once you see the data, you will be compelled to make some changes. If that is the case, I am confident that you will finish the rest of this solutions-oriented guide.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 70% of black children are born out of wedlock. Many times, the father is absolutely out of the picture. Single moms have the toughest job there is in this country. No work demands as much immediate attention and delayed gratification. You cannot pay someone enough to do this job yet the single black mom is the poorest demographic in our society. An unimaginable 39% of black female heads of household and 33% of black children are living below the poverty line compared to 18.6% of white female heads of household and 9.6% of white children. The true shame is that all odds are stacked against these families compounding every challenge normally faced with raising children into healthy, confident and independent adults. They face long odds when it comes to living in poverty, being victimized by violence, lacking quality education, low self-esteem and poor role models.
Having a loving father around is a spiritually, mentally, emotionally and financially stabilizing force needed by every child. The numbers bear this out to be true. Only 7.1% of black married couple families live below the poverty line and only 3.3% of white married couple families live below the poverty line. God created the family to consist of both a father and mother and all other arrangements are sub-optimal for children. Be that as it may, everyone must also make the best of their situation as it may be right now.
The reality is that 300 years of slavery has devastated the African American family unit. There are many African American families that are loving and meeting the needs of their children that we don’t here about that share in the values and beliefs that stable families are good for our children. The challenge is that we were deliberately denied the benefits of family for too long. Saving the African American family needs to be the number one priority of every organization that says its purpose is to help black people. A father is the first competitive edge any young person can have in this world. A young person of any race that is raised in a fatherless home has several strikes against him or her already.
Building and strengthening African American family is the first preliminary step we need to take to get started on the track to building wealth as a people in this society.
The seven critical 21st century skills outlined in the book, The 7 Simple Secrets to Wealth Building: An African American’s Guide to Wealth Building in the 21st Century and Beyond, will work for anyone however, accomplishing anything will always be more difficult for those with so many odds against them that they must overcome and being fatherless is a long odd, indeed. This data presented here is not designed to discourage anyone. Hopefully, it will encourage each of you to more carefully consider the needs of Black children and to find ways to provide them with what they need to flourish in this new economy starting with a responsible, loving father figure.
Bret Searles is a freelance writer on Black personal finance and business issues, author of ebook “The 7 Simple Secrets to Building Wealth: An African American Guide” and publisher of the ezine Black Wealth Now.