M.I.A. by Minister David J. Seymour

02/19/2013 22:44


        It is February, which means different things to different people. For some, it is the month when people express love more aggressively because of Valentine’s Day. For me. it is the month were the contributions of Black people are celebrated through Black History Month. In keeping with this theme and the topic from last week, I want to continue the conversation about fathers.

        According to a submission in Wikipedia, Missing in action (MIA) is a casualty Category assigned under the Status of Missing to armed services personnel who are reported missing during active service. They may have been killed,wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted.

        Of all the existing institutions in our world, the institution of family is the most important. Since Biblical times the institution of family has been under attack. Family can be viewed and defined in many different ways. Regardless of the definition the concept of family is usuallythe major source of the basic necessities of life and health; love and tenderness, adequate food, clean water, a place and time for rest, clothing and sanitation, to the extent made possible by socio-economic, cultural and environmental conditions.[1] Family is the institution by which children are socialized for their particular society. Fathers are critical to the foundation of each family. Although fathers are commonly seen as identity givers, providers, coaches, and role model, the role of the father is immeasurable.

        It is no secret that the institution of family has been dramatically affected over the last century. All one has to do is look at the significant rise in divorce rates in our country, irrespective of ethnicity. Although the most recent divorce statistics show a slow but promising reduction, largely due to the financial crisis in America, the rates of divorce are still quite high. The decline in divorces may suggest that marriages are now viewed from an economic perspective that was seen most commonly in the early 20th century. During this time marriages were often arranged for political and economic gains; whereas, contemporary times suggest that people choose mates based on love and emotional fulfillment.

        Every people group in America battle with maintaining the family structure, but none more than the African American community. The African American community suffers from the issue of fatherlessness more than any other people group in the United States, thus rendering many of our fathers M.I.A. In fact, fatherlessness in the African American community is more than an issue, it is an epidemic. This is not necessarily an issue of unwed parents either. It is estimated that 80 percent of all African American children will spend part of their childhood living apart from their father; whereas, prior to the Civil Rights Era more than 80% of Black family were led by two parents. According to government statistics, nearly seventy percent of African-American children are born to unmarried mothers and 40 percent of all other children regardless of race, live in homes without fathers.

        Some of the issues that arise as a result of fatherless homes in the Black community are as follows:

            · 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes

            · 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes

            · 85% of all children who show behavior disorders come from fatherless homes

            · 80% of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes

            · 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes

            · 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes

            · 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes.[2]

    Why is this epidemic of fatherlessness in the Black community taking place at disparaging rates?

[1] John Lawson Degbey, “Africa Family Structure,” https://www. jicef. or. jp/wahec/ful217. htm (accessed February 10, 2012).

[2]John Eldrige, “The Fatherless Generation,” The Fatherless Generation, https://thefatherlessgeneration. wordpress.com/(accessed February 6, 2012).