African American, culture, fatherlessness, Judeo-Christian, nuclear family, single-parent, systems of oppression, transform, white culture, whiteness
The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History & Culture devotes a great deal of space on its website to discussing “whiteness” and “white culture.” We were disheartened to learn that this site classified the nuclear family and the Judeo-Christian tradition as “systems of oppression” to the African American culture.
In fact, the opposite is true. The nuclear family (father, mother, and children) and Judeo-Christian tradition are the key factors in building a civil society. Let’s take a look at the facts.
A large portion of African American children do not grow up in a nuclear family; they grow up in a single parent home. In 2018, 65% of African American households were single-parent families where the father is absent. This compares to 24% for white households. The percentage of all households that are fatherless is 35%.
There is a father absence crisis in America, especially in the African American community. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 19.7 million children live without a father in the home. The consequences of this are devastating in America today.
Here are some examples of the astounding impact fathers have on their children:
- Involved dads improve their children’s overall emotional and social well-being
- Children with involved dads are less likely to be mistreated
- Children who live with their dads do better in school
- Adolescent/teen boys who live with their dads are less likely to carry guns and deal drugs
- Involved dads reduce moms’ parenting stress
- Children with imprisoned fathers are more likely to have depression
- Children living without their father in home are 47% more likely to live in poverty
- Men with absent fathers are more likely to become absent fathers themselves
- Women with absent fathers are more likely to have children with absent fathers
- Boys have fewer behavior problems and girls have fewer psychological problems when they have involved dads
- Infant death within the first 28 days of life is four times higher for those with absent fathers than those with involved fathers
- 92% of parents in prisons are fathers
The cure for this crisis is not better welfare systems or schools. We need fathers, mentors, and coaches to teach our young people how to be virtuous and righteous.
The story of Philip coming alongside the Ethiopian eunuch to explain the scriptures to him is an example of what is needed in our culture to overcome the hate and division in our nation.
But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert road. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of the Can′dace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless some one guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Acts 8:26-31 (emphasis added)
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, a larger share of African Americans than white Americans say they are Christian. The study showed that 79% of African Americans identified as being Christian compared to 77% of Latinos and 34% of Asian Americans. In the same study, 70% of white Americans identified at being Christian. If Christianity is an oppressive system, why do so many African Americans embrace it?
Transform Families Transform Culture
The family is the bedrock of a civil society. It is cross-cultural. St. John Paul II famously said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” It is only in living out God’s plan for marriage and family that our culture will be transformed and renewed. It is our only hope for the future of our nation and world.
Our culture will be transformed to extent that families invest in the lives of others, walking alongside them, teaching them the profound truths of the Gospel. Jesus Christ is the Divine Healer. He is the one that can unite us in perfect harmony.
Look for a family that you can take under your wing, show them the love of Christ through your acts of generosity, mercy, and kindness. Suburban churches need to partner with inner city churches to build community and support families. It is our only hope and through the grace of God, we can rebuild our culture one family at a time.
Sanctify them in the truth; thy word is truth. As thou didst send me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth. “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me. John 17:17-23
 Kids Count Data Center, Children in single-parent families by race in the United States, internet: https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/107-children-in-single-parent-families-by-race#detailed/1/any/false/37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867,133,38/10,11,9,12,1,185,13/432,431 (accessed July 17, 2020).
 National Fatherhood Initiative, quoting 2017. U.S. Census Bureau data, children living without a biological, step, or adoptive father; internet: https://www.fatherhood.org/father-absence-statistic#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20U.S.%20Census,U.S.%20Census%20Bureau. (accessed June 18, 2020).
 Pew Research Center, Black Americans are more likely than overall public to be Christian, internet: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/23/black-americans-are-more-likely-than-overall-public-to-be-christian-protestant/ (accessed July 18, 2020).
 John Paul II, homily given in Perth, Australia, 30 November 1986, internet: https://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/1986/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19861130_perth-australia.html (accessed July 18, 2020).