Monday, November 15, 2010

72% Of Black Kids Are Born To Unwed Mothers. So What?!?

For some reason, there's been a recent explosion in stories regarding the fact that 72% of all kids were born to unwed mothers. This idea's been picked apart throughout the mainstream media, black radio, and the blogosphere. In case you're not up on the official stats, here they are.
Seventy-two percent of black babies are born to unmarried mothers today, according to government statistics. Statistics show just what that fullness means. Children of unmarried mothers of any race are more likely to perform poorly in school, go to prison, use drugs, be poor as adults, and have their own children out of wedlock.

The black community's 72 percent rate eclipses that of most other groups: 17 percent of Asians, 29 percent of whites, 53 percent of Hispanics and 66 percent of Native Americans were born to unwed mothers in 2008, the most recent year for which government figures are available. The rate for the overall U.S. population was 41 percent.
Honestly, I think this real-life ramifications of this 72% number are somewhat overplayed. Reality is, married or not, roughly half of black families have a father present. No, that isn't ideal, but it's sure better than the 20 some percent implied when you look at that number. It also doesn't account for the nearly 10% of all black families run by a single father.

Just because people aren't married when the child is born doesn't mean they never get married, nor that the institution of marriage is a cure to all problems. And of course, the 72% statistic is by no means indicative of how involved a father is in his child's life. We all know guys with baby mothers who handle their business just as good (or better) than married guys who are with their children everyday.

We tend to over romanticize the past in the black community, pointing to days when every child had a father, and everything was peaches & cream. Folks, those days are over and long gone for all Americans, not just blacks, and they aren't coming back. Times change. Let it go, already. Being born to a single parent doesn't doom a child to a life in the traaaap or on the pole. Being raised by a moron (or two) is likely a much better indicator of how (un)likely that child is to succeed, but of course that's much harder to quantify.

I'd be intellectually dishonest to tell you that unwed mothers aren't a problem in the black community, but so is blaming everything on a severly flawed statistic. Stats seldom, if ever, tell the full story.

Question: What do you think is the cause for the 72% illegitimacy rate in black America? What (if anything) can be done to lower this number? Are the effects of single parenthood overblown, or actually underestimated?

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