Unless you have been “off the grid” for a while, you have heard a lot in the news about Black Lives Matter. This “movement” has gotten a lot of press and some notable praise from celebrities and politicians, including positive mentions from President Obama. But I suspect that most people, including many who have tweeted #blacklivesmatter, have not visited its website.
I have, and I was a shocked, especially as a black man. You see, Black Lives Matter boasts that it was launched as a response to the deaths of black males, most notably Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. You would expect that when you review its website, it would be chock-full of references to helping black men and boys. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong.
Let me explain.
Prominent on Black Lives Matter’s website is a list of its 12 “Guiding Principles.” These principles serve as a vision statement for what the group hopes to accomplish. So, if Black Lives Matter had the ability to wave a proverbial “magic wand” to create its reality in the black community, these principles would be it. However, if you objectively read these principles, you will quickly notice that most of them have nothing to do with the issues facing the black community and, certainly, not the black men and boys that the group has used as “martyrs” to gain a national voice. Moreover, as you read the principles, you will not find a single reference to black men and boys, except for “trans brothers,” which are men who want to be considered women.
Also, it is clear that the Black Lives Matter ideology sees no role for black men, especially not as husbands and fathers. For example, consider the guiding principle titled, “Black Villages”:
“We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”
This principle starts with the goal of “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” The irony is that this has already happened to a great degree in the black community. Today, only 34 percent of black children — down from 67 percent in 1960 — are raised in homes with married fathers and mothers. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of black children live in single mother homes. In 1960, only 20 percent of black children did. From Black Lives Matter’s perspective, we are making great progress. Using this logic, we should actively work to increase the number of black kids living in single mother homes, absent their fathers, right?
But how is that working out for the black community? Not so great. Father absence is linked to nearly all the most intractable social ills affecting children, such as low academic performance, behavior problems and risks for incarceration. Moreover, the negative outcomes correlated to father absence disproportionately affect the black boys and men who Black Lives Matter says it wants to protect. In fact, the 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report shows that black offenders killed 90 percent of black victims. The vast majority of victims and offenders are black men. Indeed, it’s the fatherless killing the fatherless.
But these facts and deaths don’t trouble the Black Lives Matter folks, who desire to create a utopian “village” where there are only “mothers” and “parents.” Indeed, the reality that children don’t come into the world with “mothers and parents” matters little to this movement. Children come into the world with mothers and fathers, but Black Lives Matter wants us to ignore this reality.
In Black Lives Matter’s worldview, it takes a fatherless village to raise a child, despite the fact that reams and decades of social science research strongly assert that children do better across every psychological, social, educational and economic measure of child well-being when they are raised with involved, responsible and committed fathers. Moreover, these outcomes get even better when a father is married to their child’s mother.
If you think that making black men merely “sperm donors” in the black village was an oversight, then consider the group’s guiding principle for “Black Families.” Of note, this principle’s graphic icon depicts one adult with two children. And the narrative mentions mothers but not fathers. Again, from its website:
“We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.”
And you will also note that there is a guiding principle for black women, but not black men.
The bottom line is that the Black Lives Matter movement sees no role for black men other than media-hyped props to promote an agenda that excludes and undermines them. As a black man, I find being used this way destructive, offensive and familiar.
You see, for centuries the blood of black men has been used to advance the agenda and fortunes of others. And sadly, the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are the latest to adopt this pernicious strategy. They seek to deny black men the right and honor that so many have died for — to be good husbands to their wives and good fathers to their children.
For a movement that is known for aggressively shouting down anyone who dares utter, “All Lives Matter,” it is guilty of the very thing that it protests when in comes to including black men in its vision of families and communities. Anyone who really cares about all black lives ought to think twice before they get on this movement’s bus. It’s heading in the wrong direction. And that matters a lot.
• Roland C. Warren is president and CEO of Care Net.
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