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Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society

Strengths, Weaknesses, and Strategies for Change

Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, David Blakenhorn

Publication Year: 2003

The majority of African American children live in homes without their fathers, but the proportion of African American children living in intact, two-parent families has risen significantly since 1995. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society looks at father absence from two sides, offering an in-depth analysis of how the absence of African American fathers affects their children, their relationships, and society as a whole, while countering the notion that father absence and family fragmentation within the African American community is inevitable. Editors Obie Clayton, Ronald B. Mincy, and David Blankenhorn lead a diverse group of contributors encompassing a range of disciplines and ideological perspectives who all agree that father absence among black families is one of the most pressing social problems today. In part I, the contributors offer possible explanations for the decline in marriage among African American families. William Julius Wilson believes that many men who live in the inner city no longer consider marriage an option because their limited economic prospects do not enable them to provide for a family. Part II considers marriage from an economic perspective, emphasizing that it is in part a wealth-producing institution. Maggie Gallagher points out that married people earn, invest, and save more than single people, and that when marriage rates are low in a community, it is the children who suffer most. In part III, the contributors discuss policies to reduce absentee fatherhood. Wornie Reed demonstrates how public health interventions, such as personal development workshops and work-related skill-building services, can be used to address the causes of fatherlessness. Wade Horn illustrates the positive results achieved by fatherhood programs, especially when held early in a man's life. In the last chapter, Enola Aird notes that from 1995 to 2000, the proportion of African American children living in two-parent, married couple homes rose from 34.8 to 38.9 percent; a significant increase indicating the possible reversal of the long-term shift toward black family fragmentation. Black Fathers in Contemporary American Society provides an in-depth look at a problem affecting millions of children while offering proof that the trend of father absence is not irrevocable.

Published by: Russell Sage Foundation

Title Page

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CONTRIBUTORS

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pp. vii-viii

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FOREWORD

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pp. ix-xiii

The family is arguably the core institution of human social existence. For this reason, those interested in understanding the conditions, status, and prospects of any ethnic-racial group typically make the family a central topic of concern. Social scientific efforts to assess the...

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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pp. xv-

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INTRODUCTION

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pp. 1-5

In November of 1998, Morehouse College and the Institute for American values convened a conference on the state of African American fathers. Presenters at that conference included William Julius Wilson, Steven Nock, Glenn Loury, Elijah Anderson, and Ron Mincy, to name but a few. ...

PART I: DECLINES IN MARRIAGE WITHIN AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES

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1. THE WOES OF THE INNER-CITY AFRICAN AMERICAN FATHER

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pp. 9-29

Today, one quarter of all families and six of every ten black families are lone-parent families, and most of these lone parents are never-married mothers. One half of all marriages end in divorce and only one half of divorced fathers make the payments that they owe by law to support their...

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2. MARRIAGE AND FATHERHOOD IN THE LIVES OF AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN

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pp. 30-42

Marriage and fatherhood are important aspects of most men's lives, and they typically lead to predictable changes, especially when the two occur together. For example, research on fatherhood outside of marriage found that it has many of the same consequences for men five to...

PART II: MARRIAGE FROM AN ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE

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3. THE MARRIAGE MYSTERY: MARRIAGE, ASSETS, AND THE EXPECTATIONS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES

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pp. 45-70

Many people have noted that the out-of-wedlock birth rate of African Americans, 70 percent, is much higher than the rates for whites and Latinos (20 percent and 40 percent, respectively). This difference is so great that some—including some contributors to this volume—ask...

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4. THE MARRIAGE GAP: HOW AND WHY MARRIAGE CREATES WEALTH AND BOOSTS THE WELL-BEING OF ADULTS

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pp. 71-83

For understandable reasons, the marriage debate in this country has concentrated on the welfare of children. When mothers and fathers do not get and stay married, children are at increased risk for a whole host of problems and disorders: mental and physical illness, crime...

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5. THE EFFECTS OF CRIME AND IMPRISONMENT ON FAMILY FORMATION

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pp. 84-102

Marriage and marriage rates are affected by many social, economic, and demographic variables. Demographers place a great deal of emphasis on sex ratios and look for imbalances. Sociologists and economists argue that marriage is more than a mathematical model and is...

PART III: CONTEMPORARY ISSUES OF FATHERHOOD

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6. BUILDING A FATHERHOOD MOVEMENT IN SOUTH CAROLINA

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pp. 105-124

This chapter describes the efforts made in South Carolina to place the issue of father absence and its relationship to poverty on the social agenda. It delineates the key role played by a faith-based philanthropy in spearheading this effort through a strategic partnership with the...

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7. FATHERLESSNESS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES: PRIMARY, SECONDARY, AND TERTIARY PREVENTION

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pp. 125-137

The increasing rate of father absence in the homes of many African American children presents numerous challenges. It may be instructive to examine the different approaches that are used to address this issue. I will use a public health model to examine the problematic nature of the...

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8. IS IT WORKING? EARLY EVALUATIONS OF FATHERHOOD-RENEWAL PROGRAMS

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pp. 138-152

There is a new consensus that fathers matter to the well-being of their children. Research consistently finds that, even after income and other sociodemographic variables have been controlled for, children who grow up with the active involvement of a responsible father are less...

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9. MAKING THE WOUNDED WHOLE: MARRIAGE AS CIVIL RIGHT AND CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY

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pp. 153-164

These are true stories about children I know—four of the real children behind one of the most alarming statistics about the African American community: In spite of some recent encouraging news as noted by the editors of this volume, the fact is that a majority of African...

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CONCLUSIONS

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pp. 165-170

In the summer of 2001, a series of independent reports based largely on new data from the 2000 Census, all pointed toward a remarkable social and demographic fact. After at least four decades of steadily getting weaker, the black family today seems to be getting stronger. ...

INDEX

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pp. 171-179


E-ISBN-13: 9781610441278
Print-ISBN-13: 9780871541611
Print-ISBN-10: 0871541610

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2003

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Subject Headings

  • African American families.
  • African American men -- Family relationships.
  • African American fathers.
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