Posts tagged ‘African American Fathers’

Danny Glover Interview with Jeffery Leving – part 2

PART 2 –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MBOeqlOXY

JML: There are grandfathers out there that are father figures, there are uncles who are father figures when there are no biological fathers.

DG:
Yes – absolutely! Absolutely!

JML:
One of the reasons there are so few father figures out there in certain situations is because if you trace back what happened before we were even born, you go back to the 1940s, a lot of fathers were kicked out and pushed out of the family through the government. Look at public aid, public aid was a means to keep mothers and children fed by kicking fathers out of the home and that is why there are so many problems in a lot of major cities. And a lot of people believe that was based on racial prejudices and discrimination against African-American fathers. And I believe that. A lot of people disagree with me. But I believe that. And right now we are seeing a lot of children are father absent. And if you look at the media, the media glorifies father absence.

How does a male basically rate himself based on what he is taught as a child? Based on how cool he is, group sex, recreational sex, what kind of car he drives. It’s not based on education and fatherhood. And the media has a lot to do with that.

JML:
But it can change.

DG:
I think it takes a long time. I think it’s a process that we are talking about is a long standing process. We can go back to the 1930s just before and during the Depression, how white families were encouraged by incentives to move out of the inner cities and move into suburbs. That’s how suburbia started. Being in suburbia is a concept that comes pre and post the Depression (and everything else). There are so many elements in terms of regulations that the government put in place. Whether designed or not, whether they are economic imperatives that brought about this. Whether it’s economic expansion that brought about this. In their design, they may have had good benefits, positive benefits. But in any design there are both positives and negatives.

DG:
So it becomes a private industry even in the midst of calling itself “public education.”  Because, what happens? The schools, the districts, the neighborhoods with the best tax bases, the wealthiest neighborhoods, they have the best schools. They have the best schools. These are the types of dynamics we don’t look at. We’re sitting right now in the preface of all this stuff falling about. This image of this… this whole thing of what a friend of mine calls, “Phantom Wealth” collapsing on us – not Real Wealth.

What is Real Wealth? What is Real Wealth in a sane society? Real Wealth lies in what we produce. And Real Wealth lies in what we produce in human beings. Real Wealth lies in us. We’re not simply a commodity, we’re a composite of wealth. We add real value to our lives. Real value to our communities. Real value to our families. That’s Real Wealth. Not the Phantom Wealth that is taken out in terms of the way we envision the deception of money.

We’re in a state now where all this stuff has collapsed on us. You have guys walking around with Phantom Wealth who are now pushing carts down the street now. You have people who were worth so much money on paper now who are worth nothing. These are the kind of dynamics we have to watch. Not where we had been, because we will never have back what we had been. Who cares if we want to go back? Who cares if where we had been meant something? Because the past does mean something. But who we are as a fourth grade teacher. And I’m gonna end it there. Fourth grade teacher asked his fourth grade class, “What does it mean to be a human being.”

JML:
You know what is real wealth to me? My daughter.

DG:
My daughter, my grandson. “What does it mean to be a human being.” Thank you.

JML:
Thank you. And it was really an honor to talk to you.

So on the one hand, I understand that. And somewhat in a lay way, it’s restoring that movement. One of the major crises in this country is that the last effective legislation that labor won was the right to organize move than 75 years ago. So at every point in time, labor, the right to organize, the right to demand – I think the best citizens we have are people who belong to unions because not only do they fight on their behalf of their workplace but they fight on behalf of their community as well. They get decent jobs, I mean decent wages, respectable jobs, retirement, healthcare – all those particular things fall in that so you can’t section out a portion of what happened without knowing the other dynamics of it.

Everything from Taft-Hartley 1947/1948 onward – labor has been pounded, pounded, pounded. The number of people who are not unionized in this country is dramatic. It’s only 8 to 10% of people outside of the federal workforce who are not union. And everything is happening in terms of that. That’s had a major impact on the climate of labor. Plus what I talked about earlier about the de-industrialization of labor – sending jobs to cheaper markets where the labor is cheaper there. That is a major part.

JML:
That’s killing us.

DG:
But that’s been happening in the black community since the 1950s.

JML:
I agree with you 100%.

DG:
Detroit is a prime example. Why the riot? Nobody looks at the social, economic and political dynamics around the riot in Detroit in 1967.

JML:
Because nobody cares.

DG:
Nobody cares.

JML:
But they need to.

DG:
People need to understand that all these dynamics have a role in the play in a sense. So on one hand, what do you have? In the midst of all this, we this propaganda that says, “This is the best country in the world! You can do anything, you can buy anything you want.”

You show all this stuff to people and kids on TV who have nothing. All these people have nothing. What do you expect the people to do? If they can’t immerse themselves in it. And they can’t gravitate towards that. It’s impossible to something in which is considered to be illegal. Do they end up in jail? They end up in jail. But not the people who rip off who they are. Not the people who gain their wealth through thievery – legitimate legal thievery and everything else. So the whole is that when we look at this we have to understand that what happened. I’m not apologizing. It’s not a witch-hunt.

I grew up in California, I was raised in San Francisco, California. I grew up when California had one of the five best public schools, public education systems in the country. I grew up in that system right there. And what happened because of that? You talk about Proposition 13 that has passed which limited the amount of property taxes that can be levied against property, the percentages of that. All of a sudden, where did they take the hit? The took in education, the took the hit in social services, and they took the hit in terms of social services provided to senior citizens. Right then, boom! Proposition 13. And what it did was it saved the property owners a lot of money but they lost the tax base for school education and the federal government does not have a federal plan to fund education. The federal government has never been a federal plan for education in this whole country. All of that is designed for the state – and the state does what it does.

JML:
And the state mishandles it.

DG:
Well I think it takes a long time to whither away at values that people have.

May 1, 2009 at 7:15 pm Leave a comment

Leonard Pitts’ Column Unfair to Black Fathers, Ignores Reasons for Father Absence

By Jeffery M. Leving & Glenn Sacks
jefferymleving-banner6
textbanner33
Leonard Pitts Jr.’s recent column “Runaway dads are society’s dregs” excoriates “selfish” African American fathers who “abandon their children [and] harden themselves against their cries of need.” Pitts cites Larry Patterson, Jr., a 19-year-old black father who, after police tried to pull him over, allegedly sped away, smashed his car, and escaped, leaving his infant daughter in the backseat. Patterson is “unique only in degree,” Pitts writes–for black men today, it’s “Every man for himself.”

Pitts’ generalization is unfair. He is correct that some African-American fathers have behaved irresponsibly. However, he fails to see that many black fathers have been driven away by shortsighted, angry mothers and a family law system which does little to protect fathers’ loving bonds with their children.

When citing the reasons for father absence, Pitts mentions “divorce” only in passing. Yet divorce and the breakups of unmarried couples are major causes of African-American fatherlessness.

Despite the stereotype of the feckless and irresponsible male, research shows that the vast majority of divorces are initiated by women, not by men. Even for unmarried couples, it’s doubtful that many dads wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “My child loves me and needs me, my girlfriend loves me and needs me—I’m outta here.” Yes, some mothers have good reasons for these breakups. Yet, as Jonetta Rose Barras, the African-American author of Whatever Happened to Daddy’s Little Girl, explains, many black fathers are simply being “kicked to the curb.”

When a divorced or separated mother does not want her children’s father around anymore, she can usually push him out, particularly if the father does not earn enough money to pay for legal representation. Courts tilt heavily towards mothers in awarding custody, and enforce fathers’ visitation rights indifferently. In most states, mothers are free to move their children hundreds or thousands of miles away from their fathers, often permanently destroying the fathers’ bonds with their children.

The system which allows women to easily obtain domestic violence restraining/protection orders was set up to help battered women. However, many mothers instead employ them to get rid of inconvenient husbands or boyfriends. The Family Law Executive Committee of the California State Bar and family law professionals in various states have recently noted that these orders are often issued with little or no evidence or due process. Once in force, a father can be arrested and jailed for violating the order if he visits or even calls his kids. The orders begin as temporary, but are sometimes extended for years at a time.

With divorce or separation comes child support. The Urban League’s 2006 report on the state of black America concluded that the child support system and its abuses often drive African-American men out of their children’s lives, and either underground or into crime.

Half of uneducated African American men ages 25-34 are non-custodial fathers. Many of them are still a part of their children’s lives. Yet the child support they struggle to pay usually does not go to their children, but instead goes to the state to reimburse the cost of public assistance, including welfare, for the mother and children.

Some fathers even live with their children and their children’s mothers, yet their wages are still garnisheed to pay child support to the state, greatly contributing to the breakdown of these fragile families. Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently acknowledged this problem in her Youth Opportunity Agenda.

The benefits that involved black fathers—even divorced or separated ones—can provide their children are substantial. For example, a recent study of low-income African-American and Hispanic families by Boston College found that when nonresident fathers are involved in their adolescent children’s lives, the incidence of substance abuse, violence, crime, and truancy decreases markedly. The study’s lead author, professor Rebekah Levine Coley, says the study found involved nonresident fathers to be “an important protective factor for adolescents.”

There are many reasons why some black fathers aren’t there for their kids. Sadly, there’s nothing we can do to make the Larry Pattersons of the world into good fathers. But there’s a lot we can do to help keep many decent, loving African-American dads in their children’s lives.

Jeffery M. Leving is one of America’s most prominent family law attorneys. He is the author of the new HarperCollins book Divorce Wars: A Field Guide to the Winning Tactics, Preemptive Strikes, and Top Maneuvers When Divorce Gets Ugly. His website is www.dadsrights.com.

March 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment


Recent Posts