In so many ways our society has changed. Two out of three black children are living in a single-parent household. Coming from a culture where couples believed in staying by each other and working it out, where did we go wrong? When did our beliefs change so much that instead of jumping the broom, we are standing in a courtroom watching the fathers of our children be sent away to prison?
Statistics show that 10.4 percent of African-American males in the U.S. are incarcerated. More African-American men are walking in prison courtyards than on a college campus. In 2000, there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college.
When will African-American women get tired of this? We have to have better expectations of our men. Allowing ourselves to get involved with men who are not trying to do better only creates a never-ending cycle. Maybe if they see that we aren't accepting the wrong lifestyle, they would want better.
Yes, we still have children by these men and those children are exposed to that lifestyle. Why would we want to bring a child into that kind of life? But as the days go by, more and more of our black brothers are choosing that route. More of our brothers are being locked behind bars, leaving the family to pick up the pieces of their mistakes and leaving the mother to raise the children left behind.
More than 80 percent of custodial parents are mothers. Mothers who go to work every day to make sure that their children are provided with the things that they need. These mothers often lose out on their own dreams and goals. They often sacrifice what they want for the betterment of their child. It is becoming an epidemic. More and more African-American mothers are raising their children without a father in their lives.
It would be easier to date a man than to just have his baby. We have become accustomed to just jumping right into a relationship. There is no longer “courting” in today's society. When a man or woman asks for your number they automatically become your “boo.” If we would choose to get to know these men better, we would be more likely to have husbands than “baby daddies.”
This is not intended as a bashing of African-American men or a bashing of the decisions of African-American women. It is more of a tool. A tool for African-American people to read and apply to everyday lives.
Women, I hope that by reading this your expectations will grow. And men, I hope you will look for success in books and not on street corners. This is only a tool for the betterment of our people. It's up to us to use the tools properly.
Alexis Davis is a first-year student at Philander Smith College, from Kansas City, and one of several students there who submitted op-ed columns to the Times for potential publication as part of a class assignment. Max Brantley, who is on vacation, welcomed the contributions.