I admit, Chris Rock is one of my favorite comedians. In one of his ROFL performances he talks candidly (how else would he do?) about parenting and women who think it is just fine to raise their children without the father. Here is the cleaned up version of his comments, to the best of my ability: “A bunch of girls think that you don’t need a man to raise no child. Shut up! (expletive expletive) …Yeah, you can do it without a man, but it don’t mean it’s to be done. You can drive a car with your feet if you want to, it don’t mean it’s a good (expletive) idea!”
I couldn’t agree more. Not everything that can be done, should be done. Here’s a better idea: For us to end the cycle of poor health, poverty, under achievement in schools and irreparable emotional scars on our young boys and girls, we need to end the dangerous narrative in our community that we don’t need our men and that our children will be just fine without their fathers. This is a lie.
Men are critically important to infant health and childhood development. Women need the support of their male partner to give their babies the optimal nutrition from birth–breast milk. Children need their fathers from infancy, point blank.
But let’s face it from the baby showers to so-called family supportive posters with no dad to be found, men often get pushed out of the picture. Add to this an “I got this” mentality among black women and a dangerous thinking in our community that glorifies the single moms that do it all without a father and you’ve got the makings of a serious problem–one that can impact the health outcomes for black infants.
A while ago, I (jokingly) wrote that I feared Essence magazine might cancel my subscription or ban me from the office building (I’m a former senior editor) for saying something that may sound harsh on black women but needed to be said. It was this (no joking): Black women may be unknowingly contributing to the breakdown of the black family by continuing a cultural legacy of acting like we don’t need our men. Saying, “forget him” or that we will be just fine. This is dangerous thinking on our part (read my full post here). Yes there was a time during slavery when we couldn’t count on our men as caregivers and providers because they could be taken away from the family at any given time. Later many of our men went North for work and women had to run the family on their own. But those days are over. But ideas that our men are unreliable and unnecessary linger like a painful scar–and our children pay the price.
Last week I was in San Antonio at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation‘s First Food Forum, an annual gathering of breastfeeding-related grantees. I had the pleasure of moderating a dynamic panel discussion on the role of male caregivers with some amazing men involved with male engagement in various ways. Here’s what I learned:
We have to stop assuming absent or distant dad’s just don’t care and allow that feelings of inadequacy (men are told to provide and protect. If he can’t do that he may feel be has nothing to offer and just stay away), his own fears or perhaps the mothers attitude may also play a part.
A few weeks ago, I attended the screening of a documentary called Spit’in Anger, produced by the non-profit, Father’s Incorporated. The powerful film chronicles the impact of absent or distant fathers on the lives of several men of different ages. The story included the journey of Kenneth Braswell himself, the founder and executive director of Fathers Incorporated, who has spent over 23 years advocating for fathers and creating father support programs but never dealt with the impact of his own absent father . Too many black men have grown up without present fathers and have never had a safe space to express that pain –many men at the screening opened up that night (read Kenneth’s recent letter to LeBron James). It was a powerful evening. But it became very clear to me that when it comes to fatherhood, men can be what they didn’t see. And, more to the point, “Hurt people hurt people.”
So we need to create space for understanding black men beyond “he ain’t isht” judgments and valuing their contribution only in dollar amounts.
We have to stop saying our men “don’t care” when that is our assessment not their actual words. When I work with young moms and they say the father “doesn’t care” I always ask ‘what makes you feel that way?’ A young mother of a two-month old in Milwaukee told me, the father showed up at the birth and that was it. I shared that showing up at the birth sounds like someone who cares to me. After we talked she realized that after he showed up at the hospital nobody in her family spoke to him. Some members were very rude and that he might have felt pushed away.
And my good friend Kuroji Patrick, a devoted father of five and a powerful advocate for male caregivers particularly as it relates to breastfeeding support, always talks about being ignored or not addressed by doctors and nurses while actually standing next to his wife. By and large negative stereotypes about our black men affect doctors, nurses, lactation consultants and other healthcare professionals. This has to stop.
As women we have to stop confusing our relationship with the father with the child’s relationship with the father. Those are two separate things. As a divorced mother, I learned this lesson myself. One has nothing to do with the other. Neither does child support. Whether or not my ex-husband had given me a dime has never come in between my children spending time with their father. My children being with their dad is priceless to them (and me) and I could never equate that to money or material things.
We need a new way of being and a new mantra for the sake of our babies. It goes like this: We need our men. We need our men. Our children need their fathers. Breastfeeding mothers need their men.
And until we have tried everything, put aside our baggage, asked ourselves the tough questions, let go of our judgment, and opened up every opportunity for our child’s father to be in that child’s life–that we are not driving cars with our feet anymore.
Kimberly Seals Allers
Kimberly is a Food and Community Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation increasing awareness of the first food–breast milk.
By Kenneth Braswell, Executive Director, Fathers Incorporated Hello Beloved Brother, My name is Kenneth Braswell, executive director of Fathers Incorporated. My work for the last 23 years has been in business and not-for-profit leadership on behalf of vulnerable communities and Black men and boys. Today, I read with pain, excitement, angst, horror, delight, fear, concern [...]
12 Foods To Help Boost Your Metabolism
Yay! Dark Chocolate Made The List!
It’s Tasty Tuesday and two of our favorite moms, Tia Mowry-Hardict and Tamera Mowry-Housley share great food choices to help build your metabolism on their lifestyle site (tiaandtameraofficial.com)
Ok so we’ve all been working hard to eat healthier and tone our bodies for the swimsuit season. What you might not know is there are foods that take care of some of some extra calories for you! Whether it’s foods that make your body work harder to digest, or that contain a particular compound that help lower your insulin or increase fat-burning, there are a handful of ingredients that can give your metabolism a jump start and make it easier for you to have a healthy weight and a healthy heart. Here are a list of 12 and how they help:
Switch up your morning coffee (or afternoon latte) for some delicious green tea to bring on some great health benefits. The caffeine combined with antioxidants called catechins are said to stimulate your nervous system and increase fat-burning.
This low-sugar ball of deliciousness can help reduce insulin levels after eating a meal. That means your body processes food more quickly and you burn more calories and store less fat.
Broccoli, good for you? This one is no surprise. But you might not know that because broccoli contains calcium and vitamin C, the super duo can together help boost your metabolism.
These guys are rich in fiber, which means they need a lot of calories to break them down. Plus, like other whole grains, they keep insulin levels low after you eat, helping you burn even more calories!
Speaking of other whole grains, brown rice is delicious and so good for you. It’s full of fiber, which means it’ll boost your metabolism, help you stay fuller longer, and help you lose weight. Choose brown rice and whole grains over white rice and white flour anytime!
You might have heard that dark chocolate contains antioxidants, but did you know it can help you lose weight? Apparently people who eat chocolate have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which prompts the body to store fat. Next time you’re stressed and craving some chocolate, go for it!
Peppers like Cayenne, chili, jalepeno, and habanero contain capsaicin, which is an irritant and you’re probably familiar with the burning sensation they produce. The heat can boost your metabolism by up to 25% and can even increase your energy!
Because beans are full of soluble and insoluble fiber, they use more energy (aka calories) to break down and again, lower insulin levels after digestion. So says the University of Colorado that if you eat foods high in “resistant starch” you can increase your calorie-burning power up to 24% in a day!
These nuts are high in fat, but the fat they contain is a good monosaturated fat. According to this study, these good fats can have a positive effect on insulin levels and also make people feel more full so they eat less overall.
Yes, the doctors knew what they were talking about with that “apple a day” thing. Because they’re full of fiber, they’ll help you stay full longer.
I throw this one in my green juice because it has so many health benefits. Besides all the great things I mentioned in my earlier blog, the spiciness can decrease appetite, improve digestion, and boost your metabolism after eating!
Another food I toss into my green juice! Garlic has the ability to break down fat, increasing the metabolism. It works by both lowering unhealthy fats in the blood (that lead to high cholesterol) and also by reducing fat in the body’s fat cells.
Photo credit: Barbara L. Hanson
It’s Tasty Tuesday and we’re talking about eating nutritiously with raw, vegan or eat-anything diets that still taste good. Shelley Alexander, a Holistic Chef and Certified Healing Foods Specialist and author of “Deliciously Holistic,” (aharmonyhealing.com) shares her five fav foolproof recipes ( 3 raw, vegan; 1 vegan, 1 meat) for packing in nutrition without sacrificing taste. [...]
We’re closing out Women’s History Month by motivating all women (and everybody, really!) to find their passion and turn it into a money-making business they love! Having trouble finding your passion? Don’t fret! Start here with a quick self-assessment to get you on your way: 1.What are you doing when you feel happiest? 2. What [...]
“We Can Do It!” was a World War II-era battle cry that empowered women. Today, however, the expression for many women is more like, “We can do it — if there’s time.” By their 40s, more than 80 percent of American women are mothers, according to the U.S. census. Meanwhile, they also make up roughly [...]
But really he could talk about pretty much anything and I’d listen. Check out Kimberly’s latest post. http://mochamanual.com/blog/
African American children with asthma have a death rate 7 times that of non-Hispanic White children, according to recent stats. Learn what you can do in your home to limit asthma attacks and hospitalizations. Let’s keep our kids healthy!