I n d i G o| b L u

WordPress.com

Archive for Poverty

Following|in Her Footsteps|and in His Shadow

Approximately 70% (66% to be more precise) of single black women are raising children. A disheartening 50% of these single black mothers live in poverty, and if one lives in poverty it is very likely that they will stay in poverty. This is increasingly becoming more of the rule than it is the exception. Soledad O’Brien’s Black in America  Part 1  on CNN only confirmed what I have always known and that is that the children of single parent households generally  follow in their parents’ footsteps, or shadows  when it comes to the absent father.

Black children who grow up in single parent households are more likely to:

  • Go to jail (mostly males): It’s no secret that many young, black men are incarcerated.
  • Get pregnant at an early age/Become “Baby Mommas”: With no father figure around, a lot of them go looking for a father figure and the love of a father that they never really had. Despite some women’s best efforts for their daughter not to make the same mistake she made, this seems to be the trend, especially for young girls whose mother had them at an early age.
  • Become “Baby Daddies”:  Considering this is, more or less, what his father did to his mother, this is the example his father set for his son by default.
  • Drop out of school: Nearly 50% of black students drop out of school and never graduate.
  • Join a gang (mostly males): 80% of black males who join gangs are those who have no father figure in the household. A lot of them look up to “OGs” or Original Gangsters as father figures. The OG is merely his name’s sake, and only cares about increasing his money through drugs and elimination of his competition through murder—-enter the young black troubled mind looking for a fatherly figure.
  • Get caught up in drugs: A lot of the black men in jail are there because of drug-related crimes. Murder, rape, and theft are also reasons.

The other side of this is some children know the mistakes their parents made and want to avoid them at all cost so that they can have a better life and future for themselves and family, however, statistics show that these are a small minority.

I am reminded of my two small cousins, one is 1 ½ and the other is 2 ½ —both are girls. Of course, I only want the best for both of them but I fear for them that they may very well following their mother’s footsteps or linger in their father’s shadow. God knows I pray that they are a part of that small minority and that the minority one day becomes the majority.

Now…why were/are some people mad at Barack and Cosby again?

Advertisements

Paying|Children|to Attend|School

1 student every 26 seconds drops out of school in America. Nationally, only 53.4% black Americans get a high school diploma. What happen to the other half? Numerous factors, of course, weigh in on this statistic.

As Soledad O’Brien’s part 1 report in the CNN special of Black in America reveals, some people are taking steps to change this. In New York, there is a program in process that actually pays children to go to school.

The program last 2 years and is obviously experimental; the children who participate in the program start young (10yrs old), and they get paid for scoring perfectly on test given.

As crazy as this may sound to some, this isn’t anything new. In the mid 1990s, Mexico implemented a similar plan except it paid poor parents to keep their children in school and to take them for regular health check-ups.

The Million”, another experimental program implemented, is a cell phone that disables text messaging, certain internet features, and other distracting features of cell phones while children are in the class. These particular phones allow children to learn and take test via their cell phone incorporating traditional teaching as well. When outside of the classroom, the cell phones function normally.

Most of the children in these programs are children from poor backgrounds and/or broken homes, which makes them all the more likely not to graduate from high school among other things.

Some people may look at this as a “bribe” of some sort, and basically, it is. It serves  more as motivation for the children than anything else.

People above the poverty line may take motivation from those around them, family, friends, etc. On the other hand, 33% of all black children live below the poverty line and these children typically do not have this kind of motivation in their lives. Most of their families/friends are poor like I mentioned earlier, so they don’t have the degree(s)/careers and such for a child to “look up to” so to speak. Often the things that they do have to “look up to” is very bleak.

For people like you or me who may look at things from a long-term point of view, we may think motivation lies in getting the diploma, degrees, and then great careers, supposedly, that are to follow. We are motivated in knowing we will eventually get to that point with the right steps taken.

However, these children mostly look at the “now” because most of their circumstances are based on the now and not the “later”.

For example, if there is no food in the refrigerator and their mother/father doesn’t have the money to buy food today for them to eat because they don’t get paid until 3 days after today, and the parent is barely living and providing pay check to pay check—- the child is still hungry and waiting for those three days will not cure his/her hunger.

So far, the program has been successful but it is simply too soon to tell if the true success of graduating these children from high school, furthering that into college, and giving an overall promising future will actually be achieved.

Survival|of Africa

I was not born anywhere on the continent of Africa, I am only of African decent, as is everyone, although I am most noticeable in appearance. I also can not claim to know all about life’s struggles and troubles in the many countries the continent embodies; I don’t think anyone can truly attest to this but the dead and suffering. I am merely a descendent of African Diaspora. What do I know? I could not possibly offer any denouement, even with careful exegesis. Besides, I am insouciant, you know….living in America born and raised here—in the land of seemingly endless opportunity. EVERYONE has tried to solve the problems of Africa, yet no one has the answer(s). The government is corrupt, they say, and it’s people are sycophant, so there is really nothing….anyone can do to alter any of this. Perhaps, some say, Africa is an anathema. In fact, very few are sanguine about the future of Africa as it stands presently, which saps overall hope  and successfully flags others. I have heard many Africans say that Americans are so blind about the world and what happens in it, not realizing that everything that goes on in the world effects them too, either directly or indirectly. I concur; it is true; there is a lot of that going on. I would, like to add another group to the list as well—able Africans themselves.

The are many Africans who love their countries, in culture and in their people, but a lot of that love is obviously conditional. Then some are appalled by the fact that their “Americanized” offspring do not know their mother tongue in a voluble manner. There should be an exact that everyone going abroad to study must contribute to their country in some way for a certain amount of time after attaining degrees and table those not willing to comply. What cause do I have to say all of this? Some will come to America and go throughout Europe to attain different degrees and avarice, which hardly goes to the advancement of their own land—mostly it goes to the advancement of America and countries of Europe. This is especially saddening for Africa. I understand there is a process to this whole thing; I am talking about people with PhDs—the highest attainable degree—- still here or somewhere else other than home, who are not at least essaying something for the betterment of Africa. There are people who are not as able as people with PhDs doing more—this is a cardinal wrong.

Then when all hell breaks loose in their countries, as it often does, they complain and grumble but do nothing to alleviate the situation. Just as someone rails about the American government, under which I live, and all the fallacies by which it is enriched, but never attempts to make a difference in whatever they are grousing about…they really are not justified to complain; the same can be said here.

Certainly, most will send money “back home” to loved ones to help sustain their families, however, how many actually go back and home and try to DO something about their beloved country’s situations? In these cases, I am not so sure that it is love for one’s country so much as it is an attempt to seem consequential. I can hear the seething of someone’s teeth as I am typing these words; the truth hurts sometimes, but only it will set you free—not excuses because honestly, there really is no excuse. What do I mean?

Think about it for a minute. Just like me, you are in the safety of carefree America or Europe, land of the free, home of the brave; both of which are basically viewed as an apotheosis. Unlike you or I however, there are many people on that vast continent of Africa that actually LIVE there, not who were just born there and are now looking out from the safe haven of the US recalling some distant memory called “home” or merely going for a little visit—a lot of these people are struggling to survive each minute of their lives from common colds and other common disease that are easily treatable, hunger, thrist, AIDS while we, yes able Africans included, are enjoying the luxury of AC and internet; this is suppose to be your allegiance.

What can one do? Anything is better than nothing in dire situations such as these. I am not, in any way suggesting these things are an easy task, hardly anything in life comes easy, but to at least attempting to make a difference, is much better than doing nothing at all; to do nothing is simply pusillanimous.  Small things amount to bigger things if done by a lot of people and consistantly. Those who are chauvinist for the good cause, people who remonstrate and get jailed, those who participate in the dirge of fallen heroes who fight for the struggle are better than those who sit silently and do nothing. Someone writing a book, starting an organization, participating in ANY way is better than someone doing nothingFunny enough, those living in carefree America are at a better position to do this than those people back in Africa because they are putting themselves constantly in harms way and risk loosing everything even when they had little to begin with—but they don’t quail and they actually do it. There are people from other countries outside of Africa doing more for Africa than some people who are more able or equally able who are African and this is Africa’s fight more so than it is anyone else’s. It’s called sacrifice and it’s called love, and real love is unconditional.  Some have tried to do zero and claim nothing can be done; this is a sign of hopelessness at its worse. Keep waiting on the world; you’ll be there for a while. To all the people who do contribute other than sending bundles of money home every now and then for family, I truly admire you. It is only logically meet, that the only people who are truly going to save Africa is Africans, not the world.