A new study shows that way more Black babies are being born to unwed mothers in America. That number is much crazier than you may realize.
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.
“The girls don’t think they have to get married. I tell them children deserve a mama and a daddy. They really do,” [Houston OB/GYN Natalie] Carroll says.
“A mama can’t give it all. And neither can a daddy, not by themselves,” Carroll says. “Part of the reason is because you can only give that which you have. A mother cannot give all that a man can give. A truly involved father figure offers more fullness to a child’s life.”
There are simple arguments for why so many black women have children without marriage.
The legacy of segregation, the logic goes, means blacks are more likely to attend inferior schools. This creates a high proportion of blacks unprepared to compete for jobs in today’s economy, where middle-class industrial work for unskilled laborers has largely disappeared.
The drug epidemic sent disproportionate numbers of black men to prison, and crushed the job opportunities for those who served their time. Women don’t want to marry men who can’t provide for their families, and welfare laws created a financial incentive for poor mothers to stay single.
If you remove these inequalities, some say, the 72 percent will decrease.
In September, Christelyn Karazin, who is black, marshaled 100 other writers and activists for the online movement No Wedding No Womb, which she calls “a very simplified reduction of a very complicated issue.”
“I just want better for us,” Karazin says. “I have four kids to raise in this world. It’s about what kind of world do we want.”
“We’ve spent the last 40 years discussing the issues of how we got here. How much more discussion, how many more children have to be sacrificed while we still discuss?”
Amy Wax, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that even though discrimination caused blacks’ present problems, only black action can cure them.
“The black community has fallen into this horribly dysfunctional equilibrium” with unwed mothers, Wax says in an interview. “It just doesn’t work.”
“Blacks as a group will never be equal while they have this situation going on, where the vast majority of children do not have fathers in the home married to their mother, involved in their lives, investing in them, investing in the next generation.”
“The 21st century for the black community is about building human capital,” says Wax, who is white. “That is the undone business. That is the unmet need. That is the completion of the civil rights mission.”
Do you think this “pandemic” is as big a cause of concern as these experts seem to think? Or is it perfectly possible to raise a well-balanced child and create a stable community without marriage?
Why are so many black women single and in motherhood?