All my life I’ve seen black men walking out on their children, leaving women to apply for welfare and other services. My mother used to refer to the governor of the state as “Big Daddy” because his signature endorsed the welfare checks. One day she received a letter from her social worker. She was to attend a meeting at her local welfare office the discuss future benefit eligibility.
Forty women, my mother included, were herded into a room and told their welfare benefits would be cut off. The women yelled about children that needed milk, fathers who were in prison, missing or dead-beats that refused to pay child support. Others stated that they were that they were still in college, it would stunt their job choices. The man informed them that individuals that were still in college would have to attend a job readiness classes and find work; my mother fell into this category.
The man who had given the grave news turned and wrote two words on a large drawing board in front of room. It said “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.” More questions were thrown at the man but he refused to respond verbally. With every question, he simply pointed. “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.”
My mother said this went on for another half hour or so until the women were told that the meeting was over and they dispersed. My mother came home and gave me the news. I was told that there would be no more medication or therapy sessions for me. My health benefits would end effective the last day of the month. I was already depressed, so this was no shock. I was seventeen years old. To me it was more of life’s unfairness in action. I only had 4 months until I wouldn’t be eligible in any case.
From the way I saw it these women were being informed that the state would no longer pay for their bad choices in men. A broad brush was being applied to the issue. My mother was incensed. She even traveled to the state capital for a rally to repeal certain aspects of the welfare reform bill. I don’t blame her for it. The situation was being handled poorly. When I was in technical school there were many young women who were being forced to attend to become “medical assistants”. The penalty of refusal was termination of their welfare benefits. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been weary of going to the hospital unless under threat of death.
My mother remarked that when she attended the rally there were few black men in attendance. The story she told stayed with me. I knew of men who took care of the children but where I lived these men were far and few between. In time I would close my ears to the excuses of black males that didn’t think they should pay support for children they claimed as their own. How “White America” was locking them out of the job market. The excuses go on and on like a broken record.
Let me state plainly and clearly how I feel about this. There is NO EXCUSE for a real man to NOT take care of their children and to leave the women who bore them to fend for themselves! I don’t care what statistic you pull out of your ass! As an adult your mantra should be “PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.” Period.