Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marry Your Baby Daddy Day: Racist Or Laudable?!?

Lost in the shuffle of CNN's cluster, Black In America last week was a quick vignette about a New Yorker who is trying to singlehandedly reverse the sad state of Black marriage.

Maryann Reid, 31 and single, dreams of wedding bells. But not just for herself. She wishes they jangled more for her peers in the African-American community, where the marriage rate is 36 percent and 70 percent of children are born out of wedlock.

Statistics like these are what convinced Reid to take matters into her own hands: She has christened Sept. 27 "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day." An act of grass-roots social engineering, her effort to wed unmarried black couples who have children echoes efforts – by government, churches, and social welfare groups – to strengthen the institution of marriage.

The first Marry Your Baby Daddy Day, in 2005, was marked by an all-expenses-paid wedding at the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn for 10 black couples with children. Ten more walked down the aisle at Manhattan's Riverside Church last September .

For each ceremony, Reid convinced dozens of local businesses to donate goods and services – such as designer dresses, bouquets, wedding cakes – $90,000 worth for the first mass wedding, and $125,000 for the second.

Reid and a volunteer wedding planner chose 10 couples from the New York area, following an interview process that included home visits in which they looked for evidence of a strong family life: orderly homes with personal space for the children, family photos on the wall, warm interactions between family members.

Reid has an unusual set of criteria for choosing her couples: They must have a proven track record of stability (some relationships go back 15 years) and they must already have children and live together. In short, they must have all the attributes of a good marriage, sans vows.
Some will undoubtedly look at this whole thing and say WTH? I don't personally like the terms BabyDaddy and BabyMama either, so I find that a wee bit tacky.

But on the other hand, isn't this a great idea? Here is a single black woman, who rather than wallow in the sorrow of not being married and chock full of babies by age 30, decides to channel that into some positive energy to try and help out others.

Besides, I've never understood how people can have babies together, co-habitate, and for some odd reason not get married. You've already bought the cow, so to speak. Why not complete the deal? Likewise, people who get engaged, and stay engaged for 5-6 years are equally puzzling. Piss or get off the pot!

Newflash Ladies!!!: If you've been engaged for more than 12 months and there's no wedding date set, guess what? He ain't tryin' to marry you! Cut it off, chalk up your losses and keep it movin'.

Perhaps more than anything else, I like that the program forces the couples to undergo extensive premarital counseling, as opposed to plunging them right into tasting cakes and heading straight to After Hours. As one who has both undergone premarital counseling, and taught premarital awareness classes, I think this initial step is sooo underrated. It doesn't guarantee success, but when properly done, at least it puts some topics on the table the couple might not have otherwise considered, much less discussed. You know, fail to prepare/prepare to fail, and all that good stuff.

Here's Reid discussing her program on Our World With Black Enterprise.

A healthy marriage is the closest thing to heaven on Earth. A bad one is the polar opposite. I applaud Maryann Reid for selflessly attacking this problem head-on and trying to provide healthy solutions for others, as opposed to wallowing in self-pity about what she doesn't have yet.

Question: What do you think of Marry Your Baby Daddy Day? Is this completely unnecessary or do you think it's a good thing?

Marry Your Baby Daddy [Official Website]

Activist Marries Unwed Parents [Christian Science Monitor]

36 AverageComments™:

The Ink said...

Worst name ever.

I think the idea is great, I just marvel at the need to drag GOOD couples to the altar.

WTF is THAT about?

spool32 said...

I heard about her back in '05... I think there was a half-hour program on it on PBS or something.

Seems like a good idea to me, and I have to cosign on the premarital counseling. We didn't do it formally, but we both put all our cards on the table before 0-hour, so those issues were done and dealt with beforehand... for people who are still playing the "how do I act so he/she likes me" game and a host of other semi-dishonest courtship gyrations, it's hard sometimes to set all that aside and be real. If you don't, though, you start to get some surprises at the 16 month mark!

Vee (Scratch) said...

Hey Average Bro,
This is a cool idea. I heard about this when the event first ran.

It sounds funny to me, but here's somebody who decided to put their time and effort into something that bothered them. She's simply doing something about it instead of complaining and wallowing in her sorrow like you said.

It's definitely better than creating a blog specifically about the sad state of the institution of marriage in this country, although Marry your Baby Daddy Day does sound like a great name for a book, blog, movie, etc.

ebw-educated black woman said...

I suppose it's a good idea...I'm torn. If there is evidence of a strong family life: "orderly homes with personal space for the children, family photos on the wall, warm interactions between family members"...and it works for that couple and their family, to each his own.

My significant other and I don't want to get married. What we have works for us. We have both been married before. It's just not something I wish to do again. Then again, I have no children and I'm over 40.

Now I'm sure there are situations out there where the male/female is just waitng around for the other to marry them.In those instances, I don't think getting married will solve anything.

Marriage is a huge commitment. I belive most people don't take it seriously enough. It's easy enough to get married-just go to the court house. What's hard is being dedicated to making that marriage work through the good times and the bad. It's not always easy. It needs work. But then again, so does any committed relationship. And yes, I do belive you can be committed without having a piece of paper.

And while it seems like a good idea, I'm a little leery of taking marriage advice/assistance from someone who isn't married herself. But then again, I'm biased.

derevolushun said...

I'm not sure. I think we think that marriage is the answer to "rectifying" the "ills" of our community completing ignoring the fact that marriage itself is such a problematic institution fraught with inherent sexism and misogyny.

Speaking of sexism, the book isn't geared towards marrying your child's other parent. It's for womyn. Once again womyn are expected to rectify the family and organize things so that their situation is more amenable for men to be in permanent/legally binding relationships with them.

Yeah... I just don't think marriage is necessarily the answer. There are lots of people who have kids together who I think should never consider getting married or continuing their relationships and really they should have never had a kid or two together in the first place.

Pre-marital counseling is a must but so would pre-bring a child into this world counseling.

I think a drive that focused on how to have better/healthy relationships with the people we parent with would be much more useful. But then again it's kind of hard to find a sponsor for something like that isn't it?

Symphony said...

I think we think that marriage is the answer to "rectifying" the "ills" of our community

Agree. So I hope they are marrying people who will take marriage, the vows and the family seriously and aren't doing so because they feel they must be married.

Because the people who rip them for not being married are not the ones who will listen to their problems or even care once they have them.

I'm not anti-marriage and believe children should have both their parents but an empty marriage is not the answer.

I'm glad they are looking for good stable couples.

Reid and a volunteer wedding planner chose 10 couples from the New York area, following an interview process that included home visits in which they looked for evidence of a strong family life: orderly homes with personal space for the children, family photos on the wall, warm interactions between family members.

Reid has an unusual set of criteria for choosing her couples: They must have a proven track record of stability (some relationships go back 15 years) and they must already have children and live together. In short, they must have all the attributes of a good marriage, sans vows.

Are these the couples people should be most concerned with when it comes to their children and dysfunction?

nia said...

I think what's she's trying to do is generally a good thing.

I have two questions though:

1. Once the lure of the designer clothes and other expensive free stuff for the wedding wears off, will the couples remain motivated to actually make the marriage work?

2. What is making marriage so unattractive these days that couples would just rather not make it official? I know a couple who have been "engaged" for eleven years now.

I also endorse derevoulshun's comments about the onus always being unfairly on the woman to make things work in the relationship.

blackandmarried said...

You know where I stand on this.

I think it's a good think, no matter what you try there will always be ways that it can be critiqued. The basic question is, Is she trying to do a good thing? and I think the answer to that is yes.

Having that piece of paper may not make a big difference to them but it may to their children

Anonymous said...

I guess its a good thing, but why down grown men and women have to be coddled into doing something their supposed to do, like a bunch of kids.

Anonymous said...

oops, I meant why do grown and women have to be coddled into doing something their supposed to do, like a bunch of kids. said...

Hello there!

I think that this program is valuable IF they are helping the couples to examine whether they can have a successful marriage... just because a brotha gets a woman pregnant DOES NOT mean he loves her...and just because he's living in her house DOES NOT mean he feels she's "the one"... he could just look at that arrangement as a way to have more money at the end of the month to put into his Land Rover.

I'm just saying...

Sistas often think, "we have two kids together so he feels something for me..." um....NOT REALLY...he just got in a habit of being irresponsible and he's hanging around since he knows he has someone with low standards...



HaterzEverywhereIGo said...

I have to admit that I'm a bit shocked at all the negative responses here.

On one hand, we complain about black kids being born out of wedlock. We complain about black men not committing. We complain about the breakdown of the nuclear family.

The moment this young lady steps in and tries to make a change, albeit a small one, all everyone can talk about is how silly this is and how marriage is a waste of time, and how these folks are just doing this for the free wedding, and how the black men and being forced at gunpoint to marry.

Damn, Black folks, pick a side and stick to it.

Applaud this sister for what she's doing, and applaud these couples for breaking generational curses. If the marriages work, great. If they don't, then these folks are no worse than the other 50% of couples that don't pan out.

But why drag either party down by projecting your negative views of marriage on them?

Give Maryann Reid some credit. What the hell are YA'LL doin' to help the Black community?

Niggaz make me so damn sick! said...

@ Blackandmarried

Of course it means something to their children to have married parents....back in the day, it was deeply disgraceful for the kids whose parents never married to be called an illegitimate child by other kids....

People may THINK that pejorative term has been retired but it hasn't been....and I still hear people using it...and I guess it's like the N-word..used as a term of "endearment" by some and thought of as offensive to others....

{shaking my head}


Huntdaddy said...

Marry Your Baby Daddy s a GREAT idea and a wonderful way for couples to take that final step into matrimony in our community. I can't see how anyone can say her program is racist.

This program deals with a reality in the Black Community. I sometimes get tired of people who claim a viable solution is racist while at the same time, they neither provide neither an alternative solution nor a solution that is grounded in reality.

Let's not forget another main issue with weddings...cost. It's great to see how this programs helps deserving families without them hurting their wallets.

The only thing I would like to see with this program is ongoing counseling to make sure these couples are built to last. That would be awesome.

nia said...

@ Haterz..
No one said that they were doing it for a free wedding. I am just questioning that if a couple has been together for 15 years and did not see the need to make it official for all those years; what is suddenly motivating them to make it official now?

Monie said...

Average Bro,

If I were a social scientist I would do all of my studies about Black people. Why? Well the validity of studies about us are never questioned. They are believed and repeated over and over. No one ever tries to replicate (negative) studies about Black people.

Question; do you know (or any one of your readers knows) anything about the study that says that 70% of Black kids are born out of wedlock?

What organization did the study? What was the specific demographic within the African American community that was looked at?

Tiffany In Houston said...

As a single woman myself I think what Maryann is doing is awesome. I also hope that while she seeks to help make stable black families that someone also sees the love and light within her and she can create a family of her own. God Bless her.

MissJay said...

I agree with haterz. Although I see what others are saying about what took them so long. But really. It's like we can't win for losing. I think it's great that she's making moves to try to solve what's going on than holding a town meeting on it (SOTBU/BIA). She's the example of don't complain about it and do nothing.

Cost is a HUGE issue for a wedding. Although I know it's just as easy to go to court and do it, some people may not want to. But on the flip side of that, hell have the wedding in the back yard family reunion style.

MissJay said...

Forgot to mention that I don't like the name either.

rorysmomma said...

No offense to the people complaining, but the onus is put on the woman because 99 percent of the time she is the one raising the kids. I applaud her. I think it is wonderful. At least the people have the protection of the paper. Many people complain about matrimony and how it doesn't mean anything. It is the reason for many of the ills in the community. I see it everyday. Women don't believe they are worth it. I am worth being married. Most women are.

the uppity negro said...

Well, I'd be interested to see what Julianne Maleveaux has to say on this because she was the only one who was saying perhaps marriage isn't the best route for dealing with our particular familial problems.

Maybe she's right.

Maybe's she's right on the basis about this whole idea of marriage vs. human nature. I might have said it on this blog in another post, but I feel it bears repeating. As humans who are married or are solely with one person, we're constantly attracted to other humas throughout our life time, as a result of socialization and acculturation, we fight those urges to not act on, shall we say, "being romantic" with those other individuals. We've attached the feelings of "lust" to those urges.

I'm simply wondering, is it really in our nature as humans to be with one person for such a LONNNNNG period of time. Hell, I'd actually wonder what the numbers are for people who have been cheating for numerous years in their marriage--and DIDN'T get caught. Think about it, we only hear about those who get caught (DUH!)

The only problem with that idea, which really amounts to a nature vs. nurture argument is that I think children need to have a male and a female partner in raising a child. As a result of our societal structure, the optimal construct for chlidren is marriage.

However, I view common law marriage, as marriage nonetheless. Sorry, I'm not convinced that one NEEDS an denominationally ordained person to say that God blessed a union--that just makes it more easy for legal purposes.

To answer the question, I think "Marry Your Baby Daddy Day" is a GREAT idea, solely on the basis that pre-marital counseling is offered. If it wasn't for that, I'd be against it almost 100%. Although, I'm with AB on this one, the name is entirely tacky, but could you think of another equally as catchy name.


Why is it that everytime someone offers criticism or an opposing opinion they're labeled a hater?

cjames30082 said...

I understand what this chick is trying to do and some recogniation has to be given for this effort. But let's get serious. This is merely a band-aid for the real problem. If you are trouble getting your baby's daddy to marry you then don't have a BABY DaDDY. She should start her grass roots movement a little earlier in the process. That's why I am a firm supporter of "Stay off ya BACK!" movement formerly known as "Conserver the Coochie".

If you're under the age of 24 then I can give you a pass of "You don't know any better". For the 25 and ups(ladies) if you decide to lay down with a dude without a real commitment the, i'm a call it like I see stupid! I am sorry that you have to hear it that way. With pregnancy, AIDS, fleas, and all kinds of other sh*t floating around there, you are just playing roulette with your life.

Get to the source of the problem.....Stay off ya back!

the uppity negro said...


Well, yes, you're right, "stay off ya back" is great advice. But weren't you the one who said that per the CNN Black in America special that "it takes two to tango?" Do the men have any responsibility in this whole thing? Or moreover, is it the responsibility of both parties invovled and should ONLY be viewed as joint responsibility.

cjames30082 said...

"No offense to the people complaining, but the onus is put on the woman because 99 percent of the time she is the one raising the kids."

This is more proof of my point. If the onus to raise the kids is put on the woman why are they taking such a huge risk......consistently?

cjames30082 said...

Do the men have responsiblities? Conventional wisdom would say that they should BUT reality is they don't have to take responsibility? As messed up as this may sound, they can just walk away. It's a double standard and I wish it weren't so but it is. Walking away is what alot of men are doing. Why? Because they already got what they wanted.

So again, the woman takes more of the risk. THat's the sad reality. And alot of women are taking that risk and losing. And as AB so eloquently puts it 'stay losing'.

Brother OMi said...

Well, the proof is in the pudding... Reid stated how she is tracking these couples and all of the ones that were married are doing much better.

As a married man of eight years, i know that just because you meet mr.right/mr. right, it doesn't mean that all of your problems will go away.

Marriage is part of the solution but it is not the magic bullet.

I do feel that men get alot of blame for not handling their bizness. While I agree, brothers need to step up, it does take two to tango.

in the end, its all about the choices we make.

Aimee said...

If you look at the goals of her program it really is hard to argue about it - but the name alone could send chills up my spine. 13 years of marriage and I wish equal time and attention was put into challenging people to make the necessary choices before they're living together and raising kids.

I'm happy that there are families that will have potentially benefited from all that she offers - but grown people can make other choices. We eloped, skipped the big celebration and party, had a honeymoon and started working on getting the resources to buy a home. It's not the sexy wedding story - but 13 years later, it works.

Cube said...

Reid is VERY nice looking. I wonder why she ain't got no man.

I am willing to apply for the job.

Daedalus said...

I think its a great idea. For once a social engineer who actually is doing something good. I could care less what they call it, (babymamma, babydaddy or other terms used by Michelle Obmama) if it actually works then I am cool with it. Good for her. Imagine that, a neighborhood activist actually solving a problem..

spool32 said...

I see it as being about commitment. You can be in a common law marriage just by sharing a checking account and living in the same house... that's not commitment, that's inertia.

Getting married means taking an affirmative step, an action, making a statement that Yes, I Am Serious About This. All the trappings and the ceremony are secondary to the core idea... that people stop letting inertia carry them along and make a statement for themselves and the children they're raising that they will commit to a marriage.

How could there be anything wrong with that?

the uppity negro said...


Okay, I'll concede that CW says one thing, but reality says something else, but forgive my ivory tower position on this one, but off the top of my head, I have exactly ONE male friend who just turned 21 today who has a 3 year old son. Now he's in school and trying his best, moved out his mama's house and everytime I talk to him, he's talking about how he has to go pick up his son, and from what I've talked to him and witnessed with my own eyes the one time I met his baby mama, these two DO NOT need to get married.

I'm saying all of that to say, is reality really that a man, or even, the male has NO compunction to worry about their offspring?

Outside of the human race, the female of the species does do the brunt of the work, the father leaves.

Reality or not, I think it's a sad state of affairs that the woman jus totally gets the shaft on this one.

Maryann said...

Thank you Tiffany, I even put that up at
To all others, thank you for your thoughts, too. Be well. MR

ebw-educated black woman said...

@uppity, thank you. Some folks are just not the marrying type-whatever that is. and brotheromi is right- it is all about the choices we make & taking personal responsibility for the choices we make in life.

And I'm surprised no one mentioned same sex couples. Many of them can't get legally married but are co-parenting in committed,loving, long-term relationships.

Vixen said...

I think this is a great idea. I think Ms. Reid saw a prevailing problem in the community and did something to change it.

Anonymous said...

Women, stop having babies before you get married. You cannot solve this problem but telling two people who probably never should have been together to get married. If you want to be married to the father of your child.....GET MARRIED FIRST! There is a lot to be said about doing things in order. Stop putting all of the blame on the men. What type of women gets pregnant and then tries to use the child as a pawn to get married??

Anonymous said...

Кажется, это подойдет.

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