In the ever-popular T.V. quiz show Jeopardy the moderator gives the answers and the contestants ask the questions. e.g. Ans. It is the most
popular language spoken in Canada.
Ques. What is English?
In my title I gave the answer: Mass Incarceration.
Question: What is the main cause of Absent Black Fathers?
You may have seen headlines like: Where have all the Black men gone? or, where are the Black fathers?
This is a subject that some of our own successful Black men have addressed.
President Barak Obama spoke eloquently about absent Black fathers..
The message was also carried by the once famous American father, Bill Cosby and also Sidney Poitier.
The problem was so urgent that The Hon. Louis Farrakhan of The Nation of Islam invited one million Black men to Washington for a day of atonement and recommitment to their families and communities.
This was a very serious issue affecting Black people.
President Obama speaking at a Father’s Day service, told the congregants: ” If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that too many fathers are missing, missing from too many lives and too many homes. Too many fathers are MIA. Too many fathers are AWOL. They have abandoned their responsibilities. They’re acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it. You and I know that this is true everywhere, but nowhere is this more true than in the African-American community.”
This was merely stroking the fire as many ministers from the pulpit had spoken passionately on this subject. All heaped blame on these absent fathers.
But soon after the president’s speech, Time Magazine carried a critique pointing out that the stereotype of Black men being poor fathers may well be false.
Research carried out at Boston College by a very notable social psychologist found that Black fathers not living at home are more likely to keep in contact with their children than fathers of any other ethnic or racial group.
But while many whites and Blacks identified numerous social problems plaguing Black families such as high level of unemployment, discrimination, segregation and unequal distribution of wealth.
While these were articulated over and over, there was no mention of the overflow of the prisons with Black inmates.
The discourse about missing fathers triggered another debate, the lack of eligible Black men for marriage. In the U.S. the majority of Black women are unmarried and this includes about 70% of all Black professional women.
Where have all the Black men gone?
This fact is a common refrain among Black women, disappointed in their efforts to find life partners. But there is a reality to all this.
In 2002 the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there are nearly 3 million more Black women than men living in the Black communities, a gender gap of 26%.
The comparable disparity for whites in the U.S. is just about 8%.
In spite of this reality no one is prepared to answer the urgent question. The nearest I got to an answer was in an article published in 1994 where I suggested that one could not fault the alligator in Florida for its own pending extinction. Likewise the absence of Black men may not be the fault of the men themselves.
The reality is, that hundreds of thousands of Black men are unable to be good fathers and husbands, not because of a lack of commitment or desire, but because they are locked away.
These Black men did not walk out on their families, they were taken away in handcuffs, often due to a massive programme known as The War on Drugs.
Because of this so-called war, thousands of Black men have disappeared in prisons and jails for drug crimes which are largely ignored when committed by whites.
The openness of the incarceration for these crimes and the overwhelming majority of Black men jailed, sends a message that these Black men must be contained.
With the law on the side of police departments and the blame on the Black man, the police had a field day.
So the prisons became overcrowded with Black men. The police was even given incentives for bringing in more and more Black convicts.
Prison was not the final punishment. Once a Black man was convicted the stigma followed him through life.
He is seldom rehabilitated hence is excluded from mainstream society.
Many people believe that the War on Drugs and the fact that so many Black men were incarcerated goes further than what meets the eye.
The Civil Rights movement had succeeded in abolishing many of the Jim Crow laws, and Blacks were beginning to feel that equality was not far off.
Yes there were some progress, some success and whites were beginning to feel that they were losing control.
So that’s where The War on Drugs comes in with all its laws made it legal to control Black and brown men.
Once one is set free, he is faced with discrimination and other social characteristics, which will force him to become a member of the under-caste. Unable to cope, as he is denied basic privileges and rights of citizenship, he is relegated to an inferior status from which he will never escape.
In the Canadian justice system we also see a disproportionate number of Blacks and Indigenous men in prisons.
We know that many of them are repeaters, which suggests that society is harsh towards ex-convicts, as well as the rehabilitation process is weak. The War on Drugs is to maintain control and inequality which is the goal of the white society.
Will ‘Black Lives Matter’ successfully lead the charge against this Mass Incarceration?
We hope so, and we hope that progressive Whites join in.
At the same time we often see U.S. type of behaviour being adopted in Canada. This will confirm the old phrase that whenever the U.S. sneezes, Canada catches a cold.
Please keep your Mass Incarceration behaviour within your borders, not for export.