Louisiana. Minnesota. Dallas.

President Obama and Speaker Paul Ryan responded differently to the events of Dallas, but with one common assumption: peaceful protest. They said (and rightly so) that the people of Dallas were exercising their first amendment rights in protesting the violence of two policemen the previous week.

Many marched for peace. But we do not seem to be able to accept that others did not. Sniper shots were NOT the only shots fired on the evening of July 7.

I. Rev. Jeff Hood & “The Infrastructure of White Dominance”

Enter the Reverend Jeff Hood.

Rev. Hood was the lead organizer for the Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. He declared that his goal was to “create a space for anger and rage.”

Before the march began, Rev. Hood “preached” this message to the crowds:

He declared that police were the enemy and that we need to light a fire under our a** and do something.

Smilingly referencing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright he shouted: “God damn White America!… God damn White America!”

Later: “White America is a f****** lie!…. White America is a f****** lie!”

The crowd cheered and then they marched. And soon after, lethal shots were fired, taking the innocent lives of five police officers and injuring seven more.

The sniper, Micah Johnson, was reported by Police Chief David Brown at Friday’s press conference to have said before his death: “…that he was upset about Black Lives Matter. The suspect said that he was upset with White people and wanted to kill White people, especially White officers.”

Undoubtedly, to say that the Reverend’s comments caused such violent actions would be absurd. But to deny any correlation between the two messages would be wishful thinking.

The next day, Rev. Hood expressed regret for his comments. He also offered two rationalizations to deflect his guilt:

  1. The space: “Those words were meant to illustrate the anger and the rage that were in that space… In those situations there is a need to speak to what is felt in that space.”
  2. The structure: “I want to speak truth to power… I was condemning the infrastructure of White dominance…”

I want to focus our attention on the second claim of the Rev. Hood: the infrastructure of White dominance that discriminates against Black Americans.

II. The Socio-economic Statistics of Black Americans

The socio-economic statistics continue to worsen for Black Americans. Over the past 7 years:

  1. 58% more Black Americans are on food stamps
  2. The labor force participation rate for Black Americans is down 20%
  3. Home ownership by Black Americans has decreased 4.6%
  4. Median income for Black Americans is lower

We are NOT talking about numbers on a piece of paper; we’re talking about faces, the faces of Black men and women and children in our country. No people should suffer such suffocating circumstances. This reality cries out for justice before the throne of God! How can justice be served?

Enter Larry Elder.

Larry Elder is a Black American lawyer, writer, and radio and television personality. In a post-Dallas interview he stated: “The number one problem in the African-American community, the Black community is the absence of fathers.”

Mr. Elder then referred to an interview he had done years before with Kweisi Mfume the then President/CEO of the NAACP (National Association of Advancement for Colored People). When the head of the NAACP was asked whether the presence of White racism or the absence of Black fathers posed a greater threat to the Black community, he stated immediately “the absence of Black fathers”.

President Obama knows this. He stated in his Father’s Day Address of 2008 that a child without a father is:

  1. 5 times more likely to be poor
  2. 5 times more likely to commit crime
  3. 9 times more likely to drop out of school
  4. 20 times more likely to go to prison

And yet, one in four children in the United States is raised in a single parent home. That figure is higher than any other industrialized country in the world! But it is far worse for Black Americans: 73% of Black American births are out of wedlock, as reported by Don Lemon in 2013. Only 3 in 10 Black children have a mother and a father to whom they can return after school.

III. The Ideology of Black Lives Matter

Before we quote BlackLivesMatter.com at length, let’s ask a basic question: what is an ideology? Luigi Giussani’s The Religious Sense sheds light on this commonly used, but more often misunderstood, political buzzword.

An ideology is a theoretical, yet practical way of looking at the world. This vision is dangerous precisely because it is subtle. Rarely are ideologies founded on downright falsehoods. Rather, they are based on aspects of reality or partial truths. For this reason, ideologies are not reasonable because they neglect other truths, other parts of our experience. Lastly, ideologies possess explicit tones of redemption and salvation, making them captivating, especially to the youth.

Black Lives Matter, while focusing on the tragedy of racism in the United States, offers no reflection on the reality of fatherlessness in the Black community. Instead, we are offered a different narrative, the “Guiding Principles” that qualify this movement as ideological:

  1. Black Village: “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”
  2. Black Family: “We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work ‘double shifts’ that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.”
  3. Black Women: “We are committed to building a Black women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male‐centeredness.”

IV. The Disparity between the Statistics & the Ideology

The explicit parallels to Marxism aside, in no passage regarding Black community dynamics does the word “father” appear. Instead, we are given explicit “commitments” to destruction of the family structure, patriarchal practices and male-centeredness.

Why must this agenda be one of tearing down? Why can we not build up? Rather than dismantling a fundamental institution of humanity (i.e. fatherhood), can we build up Black American men that embrace their high calling to fatherhood; that empower and promote the dignity of the women in their lives; that provide, protect and establish their sons and daughters? What is so sad is that it is precisely the community or village, family, women and children that suffer from such ideological deconstruction.

This is NOT the stance of true revolutionaries! This is an acceptance and even promotion of what statistically makes children poorer, more likely to commit crime, drop out of school and end up in prison: fatherlessness. A true revolution challenges the status quo; it doesn’t reinforce it.

V. How Black Lives Matter Can Help Black Lives More

We do our country a profound disservice by juxtaposing either addressing racism or fatherlessness. The statement need not be comparative: both realities are threats to Americans, especially Black Americans. But we do it one worse by avoiding a question (i.e. fatherlessness) that cries out for an answer.

To the extent that the reality of racism is embedded within the infrastructure of American society, social change must occur. I stand with the Rev. Jeff Hood on that ground. God and the dignity of Black men, women and children of our Nation require it. But if fatherhood is not considered one such fundamental infrastructure of society, the problem is being both ignored and perpetuated. Far from helping Black men and women, such ideology is marginalizing them even further. Their hearts cry out for more than reduction; they cry for justice! Every mother and every child deserve a father. Black Lives Matter can help Black Lives More by focusing on fatherhood.

  • Steven

    A friend and I just read the black lives matter page and we brought up this very point. There is no reference of father on the page.

    If black lives matter lets fight racism AND issues that truly plague a hurting community.

  • Ezinne

    Quite an insightful article. Thank you for bringing the matter of fatherlessness in the black community to fore and on a par with with racism. I completely agree that one does not take precedence over the other.

    I only want to point out what might have been a misunderstanding of the Guiding Principles of Black Live Matter. In the first statement and I quote “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure…” I believe they are most likely referring to the extended family as we have it in African communities. You see, I’m a black African and grew up in a large home with both parents(Mother and Father 🙂 ), grand-parents, uncles, aunties, cousins. There was so much love and care growing up that I just never really understood why people pushed for nuclear family lone structure. There was no distinguishing between my cousins and I. Everyone was treated equally and fairly. Of course we had our fights and frictions but they were always resolved by the elders. I wouldn’t have loved growing up any other way. We Africans believe a lot in communal living.

    I also understand the concept of the nuclear family but I must emphasize like the Guiding Principles says that it is a Western culture and as beautiful as it is, it doesn’t still change the fact that that is not how African communities thrive. Also, the nuclear family structure also has its own downsides just like communal living does. I guess that is what that guiding principle no 1 was trying to point out – We should accept what has always worked for us: Communal living that fosters love. But I could also be wrong. Like I said, I’m not American. I have spent sometime in America though to understand that some of the challenges the African American community face is trying to marry their identity with a culture that isn’t entirely theirs.

    About fathers and their role in the family, you are quite correct about that. You can never take away the importance of having a father in a home. It is such a strong factor, infact, the most dominant factor in African communal living so omitting the mention of a Father in that Guiding Principle is a grave mistake.

    I just thought it would be nice to point it out so that we don’t take the words out of context and completely slay them for saying they want to “disrupt the western- prescribed family structure” That statement, I believe was made because it is not an African culture and they believe extended family structure works better for them, same as I believe it too, having experienced it.

  • Joseph

    Thank you so much for simplifying the state of an entire people to the lack of participation by black fathers. However, the CDC report dispels that myth. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr071.pdf Your experience and mine are not the same. Have you ever been followed in a store while shopping or ignored by a salesperson only to have a white person walk up behind you and immediately receive service? Have you ever had to tell your son that he couldn’t wear a certain type of t-shirt because it would draw extra attention from police? Had you ever had to tell your son not to wear the hood of his hoodie while driving because that gives police a reason to stop him and if he does get stopped to keep his hands on the steering wheel in plain view, don’t make any moves, and to explain to the police what you will do before you do it when he asks for license and registration? I have. Have you ever been placed in the back of a police car when you and two friends are in a car that brakes down and are about be attacked by a group of any white teens who tell the police that you wanted to attack them. I have; thank God for an honest service station owner who told the police the truth. Have you read the studies that show how the demonization and dehumanization of people of color has resulted in the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of black students for the same offense as their white counterparts. Black Lives Matter is not an affront on the lives of others. Its a call for the equal treatment of people of color guaranteed by the same U.S. Constitution that I took and oath to support and defend and devoted 22 years of my to.