As the mug shots of the alleged killers of NFL star Sean Taylor were shown on television, I kept wondering when we were going to see their parents step forward. I saw a couple of mothers, but their dads were missing in action.
Dads matter, and it's ridiculous for us to act as if all it takes is a loving mom.
Now, I don't know what it means not to have a father in your life. I'm not familiar with a mom being strung out on a crack binge. And when my parents were called to the school when there was a discipline problem, Mom and Dad didn't go off on the teacher or principal. In fact, I can still feel the pain of my elementary school principal's paddle being applied to my butt when I acted a fool. The principal could only pop me three times. Dad? He had no limit.
Bottom line: I can sit here today and celebrate them and enjoy a wonderful life because my parents were hell-bent on raising their children to do right by them, especially my dad.
We can spend all day talking about the ills afflicting urban America -- and there are plenty that are institutional -- but the decaying value of life in inner cities clearly can be traced to the exodus of fathers from the lives of so many young men. Excuses often are tossed about as to why black men leave their children (and their children's moms) to fend for themselves. But a lot of them are just sorry and refuse to accept the responsibility that comes with raising a child.
A lot of my colleagues will suggest it's too simplistic to assign such a high value to a dad being in the life of a child. But just take a visit to your local jail, juvenile hall or state prison. You likely will be confronted with a sea of black men -- strong, able-bodied, creative and restless -- who have spent or will spend years and years with a prison number identifying who they are.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, of all the black men in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 29 in 2002, 10.4 percent were incarcerated. Hispanic and white men? Just 2.4 percent and 1.2 percent respectively. If a poll were done on how many grew up without fathers, I can guarantee you the numbers would be staggering.
Read the entire article on the CNN website (new window will open).