Happy Father’s Day 2020
Why We Still Need Our Fathers
No doubt, what the virus pandemic and the U.S. Black Lives Matter protests against racial inequality and social injustice this year (2020) have reminded us is that part of the future of America does lie with our younger mixed race generations — our nation’s children and the families that shall consist of the decades to come.
The unfortunate elderly and the loss of their lives has confirmed their fatal vulnerability to COVID-19 with over 80% of the recorded deaths from 1 February to 17 June by the CDC being aged 65 and older.
The latest Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests echo the deep discontent and desires for change of the youth globally, who make up 41% of the world’s population based on 2017 data from the World Bank, regarding their futures and shared concerns on justice, on education, on jobs, on military conflict, and on connectedness.
In fact, last year, other similar pro-democracy protests erupted among the youth in far flung places as Hong Kong and Catalonia, both many decades in the making but reaching high-strung tensions last year, as well as Sudan, Russia, Chile, and Lebanon.
Strikingly, beyond age, race, and our borders, the U.S. protests following George Floyd’s killing have also been shockingly more diverse, younger than expected with ‘so many white kids’, with pledges of support from Somali-Americans, Latinos, and Asian-Americans, as well as having sparked international ongoing solidarity protests in at least 22 nations, signaling a shift in public and global opinion about just treatment for minorities and the change in conventional acceptance of mixed and ethnic race in our communities. The divide in opinion, however, for the reasons behind the U.S. protests is greatest between the Republican and Democratic party lines, with 82% of Republicans strongly believing criminal behavior is driving the protests while 80–84% of Democrats assert the reasons are more to do with George Floyd’s unjust death, tensions between Blacks and police, and the longstanding concerns of Black treatment in the country:
Additionally, in the U.S., the non-Hispanic White population is already on the trajectory of falling below a 50% majority by 2045, and based on a Gallup poll in 2017 of 340,000 interviews reviewed against the year before, the overall percentage of Americans identifying as LGBTQ+ has risen to 4.5% with Hispanics composing the greatest majority (at 6.1%) and women (5.1%) and men (3.9%) differing the widest, but Millennials (+0.8%, 8.2%) representing the greatest generational change in increased LGBTQ identities compared with Generation X (+0.2%, 3.5%), Baby Boomers (+0%, 2.4%) and Traditionalists (+0%, 1.4% ). Another study in early 2019 by the William Institute at the UCLA School of Law also highlights the latest LGBTQ+ population characteristics of uneven populated regions — perhaps due to their vast political differences — (9.8% being the highest in Washington, D.C. and 2.7% being the lowest in North Dakota); they skew younger (56% are younger than 35), and a quarter (25%) are in lower economic income households (below USD24,000 per annum).
So our future generations are increasingly more colored, young, less gender biased, and are now demanding change for a better country and for a better world more inclusive of their needs and dreams.
The BLM movement is indeed different this time than the Civil Rights Movement of the mid to late 20th century. It is not spearheaded by any particular faith nor religion and its origins from the three co-founders of Black Lives Matter are rooted in strong feminism and transgender leadership and goals.
Many conservative Christian groups fear that underlying non-patriarchal, non-nuclear family, all gender-inclusive creed. Moreover, the term ‘feminism’ has more than one definition and mixed reactions from the public. Based on research cited from 1999 to 2011 by the Gendered Innovations (a project initiated from Stanford University since 2009), there are 4 broad feminisms from which have been impacting legislation and policies:
- Liberal Feminism, beginning from 1792 in Western Europe, responsible for major legislation changes that guaranteed equal rights, pay, education for women, but this approach to feminism has been criticized for being ‘assimilationist’ which implies women, not culture, must change to succeed;
- Difference Feminism, arising from the 1980’s and 1990’s that recognizes the differences in men and women and their inherent qualities, but has been criticized for re-emphasizing gender stereotypes and for ignoring the different cultural and gender views across different races and socioeconomic classes;
- Co-Constructionism, emerging from the early 21st century, focuses on the influence of and impact on science and technology from gender identity, but views technology as the determining driver to modernity and gender characteristics as fixed and intrinsic;
- Sex & Gender Analysis, from research cited in 2011, concentrates on research and evaluation of all the sciences (health & medicine, engineering & technology) to achieve gender equality and improved lives.
What’s more, 40% of Americans polled in 2016 considered the term ‘feminism’ associated with anger and unfair ascribing of women’s challenges to men. In 2018, again U.S. polls indicated that although more women and men together (30% overall) have identified themselves as ‘feminist’, the majority of Americans still do not — feeling that feminists are either ‘too extreme’ (per 48% of non-feminist women), ‘do not represent true feminism’ (per 47% of non-feminist women), or ‘men and women are not equal’ (per 20% of non-feminist women and 14% of non-feminist men). In the U.K. and the rest of Western Europe, the numbers also vary, although more popular among younger women, but still are not in agreement by the majority by far.
Added to this picture is based on the U.S. Census data from July 2019, the ethnic racial makeup of the U.S. was 60.4% non-Hispanic White, 18.3% Hispanic or Latino, 13.4% Black, 5.9% Asian, and others.
So while the racial and gender equality debates continue to rage on and their indigenous numbers do not currently represent the majority, we have to wonder if the state and future condition of our families that make up society will be lost and therefore, discuss on what principles should they be based to be preserved?
We cannot deny the need to include ethnic, cultural, racial, and varying gender identities into our institutions and policies that benefit all, but with experience and evidence, we cannot ignore nor discount the benefits of the majority — who the BLM movement has so poignantly drawn our attention to regarding the inequitable treatment of and lower economic opportunities due to the biased criminal justice system for their men. Astonishingly, according to a 2010 published book, “The New Jim Crow: The Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, by Michelle Alexander, the Huffington Post has highlighted its prominent claim that,
‘There are more African Americans in the US criminal justice system than there were slaves in 1850.’
Furthermore, per the Vera Institute of Justice, Black men makeup 35% of prisons when only comprising 13% of the general population; are more than 5.6X and 2X incarcerated in their lifetimes than Whites and Hispanics, respectively; and in a 2016 Chicago task force for police accountability discovered that Blacks were 4X more searched than Whites though Whites were 2X more likely to have contraband. So that is to say, the BLM has charged the current system as detrimental to the traditional nuclear family structure because of the acceleration of economic and social annihilation of men in this country as illustrated in their Black communities.
Fathers, overall, still makeup the majority of men in this country. From the 2019 published U.S. Census survey in 2014, the majority of men in America are fathers (61.4%) or 6 out of 10 men, with 21.2% White and 24.9% Black between the ages of 20–29, and about one quarter of all men are grandfathers (aged 15 and over). The nine-fold rise to 8% of single fathers (which makes 2.6 million households) is also significant when compared from the 1960’s to 2011 by the Pew Research Center because of the importance still placed on the predictability and future social, economic, and academic welfare of children with the parental involvement of their fathers, as cited on p. 2 of the U.S. Census Mens Fertility & Fatherhood: 2014 report by the works of E. Anthes who wrote Family Guy, Scientific American Mind, May/June 2010 and by the works of Kyle Pruett, M.D. who wrote Fatherneed: Why father care is as essential as mother care for your child, Free Press, New York, 2000.
It is not to say that women or single mothers are weak or incapable. In fact, from data collected between 1960–2011 by the Pew Research Center, it showed 40% of households with children under 18 were cared for by breadwinner mothers; and of those, 63% were single mothers. Moreover, the married breadwinner mothers (37% of the 40% of households with minor children) were more educated than their husbands. However, the income of households with breadwinner mothers who were married was indeed 3.5X more than that of single mothers’ caring for minor children whose single parent was also more likely to be Hispanic, or Black, and less educated. Also, based on the Pew Research Center data in 2008, among ethnic minorities, Black mothers (72%) have the largest share of children out of wedlock:
Based on this, the percentage of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics all largely agree on the negative impact to society that having children by single women is:
Blacks themselves (88%) consider it ‘very important’ that a father be able to be a good provider in a marriage, a precursor for a stable family with children:
Other data has shown that there is more to a child’s future well-being in society than merely income, resources, and the laudable abilities of a single mother, whether greatly educated and/or a breadwinner, and it is inevitably entrenched in greater involvement of the children’s fathers and the total bond of the family in being ideally in married, but amiable, relationships.
Despite the fall in the past 50 years of the structure of traditional marriages and families, and the rise of single parenthood, cohabitation, and LGBTQ+ families, these ‘fragile families’ as labelled by researchers of a study in Princeton University and as cited by the Pew Research Center as creating instability and in the short-term nature of families as argued by Andrew J. Cherlin in his book, The Marriage Go-Round, still do not produce children that fare as well as children from stable families.
Two large studies, following 19,000 children since 2000 in the UK and U.S. in major cities with mostly single parent lower income homes of Black and Hispanic-Americans, analyzed by BBC have found:
- 40% of unmarried fathers had spent some time in prison;
- Children of divorced parents were more likely to fail progress at school;
- Children in even stable single-parent households fared worse on measures of numeracy and literacy than those of two parent stable households;
- 5% more teenage girls were depressed in single parent homes than stable two parent ones.
Consider the University of Arizona study in an article of Slate that noted that
‘…one-third of girls [or 33%] whose fathers left the home before they turned 6 ended up pregnant as teenagers, compared with just 5[%]percent of girls whose fathers were there throughout their childhood.’
Or another 2012 study by The Pew Charitable Trusts that showed that even low income stable families will produce children who were more likely to rise in their income ladder in their adulthood.
The ‘stability’ that appears so crucial in the healthy welfare of children in families from studies in the past several decades refers primarily to the short and long-term nature of the parental relationship as well as the amount of harmful conflict between and among the entire family.
‘What mattered was not how many parents there were, or whether the parents were biologically related to the children. Instead, whether children had problems with their grades or with their siblings or friends depended on whether there was a lot of conflict within families, high levels of disagreements between parents, or endless arguments between parents and kids.’
Therefore, although previous data do agree that lower socioeconomic classes were less likely to be married and by extension be less likely able to provide stable environments for children as compared to wealthier stable and more highly-educated parents, then it couldn’t be stressed enough about the compensation of the positive influence of community or extended members to that ‘fragile family’ in building as stable an environment for a child’s successful development and future welfare.
In the 2007 Reuters article, Father absence ‘decimates’ Black community in U.S., Chris Gardner, on which the Hollywood Will Smith movie, “The Pursuit of Happyness’, is based about a homeless single father raising his child amidst his pursuit of his career, credits other influential father figures in his life other than his abusive step-father. His autobiography was what was turned into the movie and in real life he became a millionaire investor and is a motivational speaker.
In the same Reuters article, Roland Warren, the president of the National Fatherhood Initiative, commented about the fate of children in fatherless households in that,
‘They are two to three times more likely to use drugs, become teen parents, be connected with the criminal justice system, to fail in school or to live in poverty.’
The greatest takeaway this Father’s Day 2020 is to recognize the unassailable benefits that fathers bring to society and to stable families in America. They are as crucial as mothers and women. The foundation of our healthiest societies to date have been built upon the mental, financial, and social health of both men and women, collectively, and it behooves our conversations and endeavors to focus on the policies and institutions that also support, honor, and bolster The American Dad.
Here is to our mothers in 2020 as well:
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