Reading the recent Royal Gazette piece on Dr. Ronald Mincy, the individual commissioned for the latest study on black males, has turned some interesting remarks on his part, particularly with regards to marriage, affordability and potential causes of fatherless homes:
His studies have made him keenly interested in the decline of marriages and its effect on children. Differences in earnings between men and women are a factor. “The situation shaping up in Bermuda really does conspire against people taking up marriage in the first place and then it being sustained, at least among blacks where among younger women are much more successful at landing jobs and sustaining jobs than young men.
“If men are not able to support a family the likelihood they will want to get married or someone will choose them is very slim. That’s an important part of it.”
He said studies showed men wanted and needed to get attached to their children — but the cycle of fatherlessness continued.
“A common theme that many of the young men have is ‘I grew up without a father and that created a lot of pain for me.’ They say to themselves ‘I will never do to my children what my father did to me — desert me.’
“But if you are not clear and determined to see these things through and you feel at fault for not holding up your end then we, as human beings, seek rewards and we flee from trouble and I think that tends to push away the dissonance of ‘I am not going to do this and then doing exactly that.’
“It means from one generation to another this cycle of fatherlessness continues.”
The upshot was increased crime and violent behaviour. “You are less likely to find that with young men who have fathers in their homes to set boundaries. Children want boundaries. They want to say ‘Mom, dad, set me straight on this’.”
Some of this was interestingly witnessed within regiment. There were a small handful of trouble-making individuals who seemed to not only yearn for, but thrive on discipline while the rest of us were largely the ones punished for their misgivings. It’s always funny to hear people say that they joined the Corporals Cadre (extra time committed to gain rank) to get away from the troublemakers. For, in my year, it was the troublemakers who joined and thus there were those who avoided it simply to avoid them and thus being just a Private has been a much better experience than it ever was in recruit camp.
Anyway, back to the study:
His study will question whether children raised in single parent homes have better employment and graduation rates than those in a nuclear family. Prof Mincy is teaming up with Statistics and is planning several trips to meet educators, business leaders and MPs.
Somehow it has to be highly doubtful that he study won’t show that single parent homes are part of the problem. The real question that should be answered is how do we avoid or improve single parent homes to address problems today?
Asked about the affect of naked racism on the plight of the young black male he said: “But plain old racism can’t explain ‘why girls?’. So in other words it’s not plain old racism.
“It may be nuanced racism because girls are black as well. They may not be as threatening or off-putting because there is a male culture they are less affected by. But that means it is not plain old racism.
“But it could be that young black women earn a lot less than white women earn for the same set of skills. But so far the most sensational aspects of these problems, the ‘on the wall’, the crime, the drugs, the arrest rates, all of that is distressing and is a manifestation of male behaviour but I am also interested if there are differentials between white girls and black girls in Bermuda.”
A good point and argument against plain old racism as the sole cause of Bermuda’s problems. It will be interesting to hear the “differentials between white girls and black girls” as compared against “the same set of skills” as it should give us a good gauge as to a truer picture of racism in our community.
Overall, there are still questions as to why we need another study and what is going to be done now to address the problems of youth in our community. However, after having read Dr. Mincy’s remarks it can at least be comforting to know that the $200,000 earmarked for this particular study doesn’t sound like it will be a complete waste of our money.