“My Baby [sic] Daddy”

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina has focused the world’s attention upon the oft-ignored endemic African-American poverty. According to the 2004 US Census, the poverty rate for those who identify themselves as Afro-American is above 24 percent, compared with 9 percent for non-Hispanic whites and a national level of almost 13 percent. Nearly 20 percent of Afro-Americans are living without any form of health insurance. Child poverty rates are increasing as well. The continuous history of institutional repression stemming from the seventeenth century is irreducible when considering the current depressed economic state of African-Americans.

However, more causal, and more often avoided, is the disturbing rate of African-American children born out of wedlock, currently over 70 percent. This rate has been increasing in recent decades and does not show signs of slowing.

In 1965, amidst the era when both the government and the African-American population gave the most attention to structural inequality/oppression and the African-American population worked to form strong community, the out of wedlock birth rate was at 25 percent.

This increasing trend, this decline of responsibility, morality, and family values, is wreaking havoc upon the children and any potential to form strong community. The value of family is irreproachable, 47 percent of single mothers are poor, while only 10 percent of married African- Americans are living in poverty.

We must ask: Who are the father figures for these children? We must first look to culture to find the answers here. What is apparent is a lack of positive figures, in sharp contrast to the fifties and sixties, and in their place are rap stars. These men and the record executives who make money off their projections promote a pseudo-reality filled with violence, misogyny, and materialism, not fatherhood, responsibility to family, and facing the struggle against a past of oppression and pain to build strong community.

Fathers cannot model themselves after 50 Cent, movin’ kilos, cockin’ heat, and takin’ pants off of many different females. After all, there is no such thing as being a father ‘just a lil bit.’ These rap titans must realize that their message, particularly the encouragement of black on black crime, female objectification, and lawless behavior, is only contributing to the increase in the historical cycle of poverty, despair, and lack of opportunity that has plagued attempts at strong African-American community.