Dads Against the Divorce Industry

DA*DI is devoted to reinstating the societal valuation of Marriage and the traditional, nuclear American Family, with particular emphasis on the essential role of FATHERS.

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NEW MOOD AMONG BLACK FATHERS: COUNT US IN



Gallagher's first book, Enemies of Eros: How the Sexual Revolution is Killing Family, Marriage and Sex, was published by Bonus Books in 1989. Judge Robert Bork called it "lucid, witty, profound, devastating," and George Gilder pronounced it "the best book ever written on men, women and marriage."

Currently an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values, Gallagher has worked as an article editor of National Review, senior editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, and as a senior fellow at the Center for Social Thought.

by Maggie Gallagher

This Father's Day, four out of every 10 children will sleep in homes where their fathers do not live. But the situation in black communities is particularly dire: Fewer than one in five black kids will grow up in an intact family, thanks to higher-than-average rates of both divorce and illegitimacy.

Since 1965, when Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan first called attention to the rise in black single-parent households, the subject has been a touchy, divisive, racially charged issue. But no more.

A group of prominent, mostly African American leaders and public intellectuals have just released a historic document, The Morehouse Statement on African American Fathers, co-sponsored by the Morehouse Research Institute and the Institute for American Values (where I am an affiliate scholar). These diverse leaders urge African American churches, civic groups and civil rights organizations to put reversing father absence at the very top of the black, as well as the American, agenda.

"We call upon all African American leaders to bring to this movement the same energy and dedication, the same passion and fearlessness, and the same creativity and courage that was summoned to wage the struggle for basic civil rights," the Morehouse statement says.

The list of signatories is virtually a mini Who's Who of the black cultural elite, including public intellectuals such as William Julius Wilson, Elijah Anderson, Glenn Loury, John Sibley Butler and Stephen Carter; leaders in influential institutions, such as the president of Morehouse College, Dr. Walter Massey, the Ford Foundation's Ron Mincy, and Dr. Jeffrey Johnson, president and CEO of the National Center for Strategic Nonprofit Planning and Community Leadership; along with established leaders of the fatherhood movement, such as Wade Horn, Ken Canfield and David Blankenhorn.

In particular, the signers urge Congress to pass "legislation this fiscal year authorizing at least $2 billion over the next five years to support community-based fatherhood programs" that seek to reverse the trend of father absence by promoting "both marriage and marriageability, especially for young, poorly educated, low-income men."

Other new ideas to promote marriage and marriageability among poor urban families include federal laws to allow states to extend child-care and medical benefits for transitions off welfare that take place through marriage (as well as work), increased support for entrepreneurship training in poor communities, and reducing the marriage penalty in the Earned Income Tax Credit.

But the biggest impact of this groundbreaking document may be felt not in the political realm but in the cultural arena. For the mostly unexamined flip side of the old argument that single-parent families are somehow a "black thing" is the unsavory, some might even say racist, idea that African American fathers somehow matter less to their kids than white dads. This is an argument a whole lot of African American men are no longer willing to swallow.

Bill Stephney is one of those outspoken African American dads, the CEO of Step Sun Music Entertainment, a hip-hop music company, who signed the Morehouse Statement. "African American family members are now separated at a rate not seen since the active slave trade," he declares. "If this issue does not activate us, nothing will."

William Raspberry summed up the new mood among African American men when he spoke at the Morehouse Conference on African American Fathers last November:

"I'm old and I'm tired, and there are some things that I just don't want to debate anymore. One of them is whether African American children need fathers. Does marriage matter? You bet it does. Are black fathers necessary?" he pauses for a moment to let the words sink in. "Damn straight we are."

Set, point, match. End of the divisive, distracting racial debate. Now we get to the hard part: doing something about it.

(Readers may reach Maggie Gallagher at GallagherIAV@Yahoo.com.)

COPYRIGHT 1999 MAGGIE GALLAGHER

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