First, we have to understand history to better understand why there is this phenomenon. Slavery is the root of American history, and there is no way around it. The impact of slavery is still very present today. We have a new form of slavery, which is the criminal justice system. During the colonial period, Africans were not valued as humans and were not allowed to get married, and were often split up during the slave trade. Fast forward to the 1950's and 1960's, unemployment in the black community was escalating. Under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson, women could not receive benefits if they were married, or their husband resided in the home. This created the lasting effect of fatherless homes.
Now, in 2015, we still have single-parent homes than ever. Leaving social workers puzzled on how to make social change. We want our clients to be self-sufficient, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. There are a lot of restrictions that prevents us from being change agents. The common person would say get a better job or go to school. However, in some cases that is easier said than done. We look at the lack of programs for fathers. How come fatherhood programs aren't taught in schools? That's where a lot of the fathers are located in schools, and in the community. Also, we can't discount the prison system.
Since 2001, 1 in 6 African-American men has been incarcerated. That is an epidemic!
So what can we do as social workers?
First, we need to start having discussions that this phenomenon is occurring and be aware that this is not only impacting African American men but Latino and Native American men as well. Then we need to attend city council meetings/ town hall meetings to make our elected officials aware of the statistics plaguing our communities.
We need to work with other community partners to advocate for policy changes that targeted African American men. If a lot of the fathers are locked up, how are we giving our children a chance to thrive?
We must organize and lobby on the state and federal level to get our elected officials to make policy changes to provide more prevention as well as programs and services for the prison population.
Now, let's open up a discussion here, what else can we do in order to tackle this social issue?
Please comment below! Thank you for reading.