Single-Parent Homes vs. What Makes America Great


Last week at my home-bar (read: pool hall), I got lectured on what it means to be American - by a guy who is a native of New Zealand, lived in London for a decade, and married a Colombian American with a loving extended family.  In his opinion, the thing that makes America great is the 1st Amendment: Freedom Of Speech. Having lived in several countries, he assures me that this is not an option in most places on the globe.

He also told me his Colombian family has been Democratic for decades, and decided at the last minute to vote for Trump - 30 votes - because someone they knew personally told them that Trump is not racist and "will pick up a golf club with anybody." They hated Hillary that much. 

I've never played golf with anybody, and I have interacted with a lot of non-golf players.  I can't say for sure that playing golf is a fair measure of one's racist tendencies.  I harbor doubt.

I was able to reciprocate insight by lecturing him on the difference I have observed between White American Families and Black American Families.  He had referenced a trend in lack of Fathers in American families, especially Black families. Yeah, that urban legend.

I countered that while the single-parent household trend is real, there is a non-publicized reason for it: the lack of fortitude in father-figure. American women have found out that not only can they do everything themselves, they are often left to do just that, even if they are married to Baby-Daddy. While the trend of Typical Man was to get a career, get a wife, get a house, get some kids, the father wasn't really there for the children and wasn't really there for the wife: wasn't present.

The difference I have seen, I told him, is that my Black American single-mom friends have a seemingly solid extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - actively involved in child-rearing. White Americans seem to favor the nuclear: just me and my kids.  My new friend seemed surprised, but he was willing to think about it. 

Thinking about it. That's brilliant. More people should do that.

We also briefly discussed the unhappy New Zealand history of removing Maori children from their families to assimilate them into White CultureYeah, America did that, too. 

What we agreed upon is that all Americans need to be willing to come to the Discussion Table, and to speak while they are there, and listen while someone else is speaking. The problem I see with America right now is that a large portion of our society is unwilling to spend two minutes considering something outside their daily belief-set. A portion is unwilling to hear any alternative realities because theirs has been the accepted "normal" for so long, and another portion is unwilling to come to the table because they've been unwelcome there for so long.  Depending on who's sitting where, they are still unwelcome.

Here's a shiny wrap-up for this observation: my new New Zealand friend also feels that America is the last place on earth where a man will still hold the door for a woman.  This is interesting.  I see American women holding doors for the next person, too.  

And, he says, if someone tries to cut in queue, some American will always say: 
"OI! End of the line's back there." 

We do have that.

Further Reading:

Our Stolen Generation: A Nonchalant Wickedness

From The Spinoff,  investigative journalism detailing a group "now known as  Nga Morehu (The Survivors.)"

 Native American Children: Taken From Their Families
From PBS, the story of American Government-run boarding schools instituted to assimilate Native children into Whiteness.


Comments

  1. Good writing AND thinking! Thanks!

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