[Marxism] Obama Calls for More Responsibility From Black Fathers

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Mon Jun 16 18:20:39 MDT 2008

In this society, the most that you can hope to legislate is parental
responsibility for the material well-being and physical integrity of
children. HOWEVER, as the NOW statement points out, this is not only
meaningless, but victim-blaming and scapegoating in the absence of social
supports and a social policy that guarantee jobs, health-care, daycare, a
decent education, etc. In fact, It becomes a way of diverting attention
from precisely society's responsibility for children's wellbeing by
blaming the evident failure in this regard on "dead-beat dads." In
essence, this was the content of Clinton's wellfare reform and all the
discussions that took place at that time about wellfare cheats, deadbeat
dads, parental responsibility, teen pregnancy, etc. ALL of that became
racist code. But, it is one thing to say that we need the state's "stick"
(and then you must acknowledge that when the capitalist, sexist and racist
state wields that stick, it becomes a political weapon against oppressed
people) used against child abusers, irresponsible fathers, etc. It is
totally another to imply that you can legislate fathers' spending more
time with their kids. I had the same discussion with my wife, a social
worker with an infant/maternal health program, the other day. She
mentioned an agency here that has the goal of encouraging fathers to spend
more time with their kids. We agreed that there are some fathers we know
that SHOULDN'T spend more time with their kids...

> Message: 15
> Date: Mon, 16 Jun 2008 16:47:40 -0400 (EDT)
> From: Walter Lippmann <walterlx at earthlink.net>
> Subject: Re: [Marxism] Obama Calls for More Responsibility From Black
> 	Fathers
> To: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
> 	<marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
> Message-ID:
> 	<25923263.1213649260588.JavaMail.root at elwamui-cypress.atl.sa.earthlink.net>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
> All fathers, including Black fathers, really do need to spend
> more time with their children. That's so obvious it's hard to
> see why anyone would oppose such a thing. As far as the whole
> business with child-support, that's another kettle of fish as
> it's about a society which doesn't take responsibility for
> the raising of children, and assumes that responsibility for
> everything should rest on the individual and on the family.
> Sometimes I get the impression that the feminist criticism of
> the family, which is a good thing to read and think about, is
> sometimes escalated up into a rejection of the institution of
> the family as a whole. That is, the "a woman needs a man like
> a fish needs a bicycle" kind of thinking. Not very helpful
> when you don't have something else with which to replace it,
> as no one I'm aware of in human life at this time really has.
> We see the problems associated with family disfunction widely,
> including in Cuba, where it's also a problem being looked at
> and a source of concern by the leadership. Under capitalism,
> social responsibility is devolved down to the individual and
> the individual family, an unrealistic thing to impose on so
> modest an institution. Society must take a hand in helping
> the family to fulfill its responsibilities, but the family
> can't be dispensed with by wishing that it were so.
> More parental responsibility within the family? Yes!


Michael Friedman
Ph.D. Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Institute for Comparative Genomics
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street and Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

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