Originally posted on Family Scholars, blog for the Institute for American Values
I read, along with millions of others, aboutÂ â€The Marriage Vowâ€“A Declaration of Dependence upon Marriage and Familyâ€ that was signed by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Taken on itâ€™s face, a â€œdeclaration of dependence upon marriage and familyâ€ is a positive step in the right direction when it comes to government officials participating in community initiatives to promote marriage and family, because from a policy (and common sense) perspective, study after study shows that children raised by two parents do better in school, have less behavioral problems, and are less likely to use drugs and drop out of school. Â Married couples tend to be healthier and wealthier. Â Itâ€™s good policy to promote marriage.
But hereâ€™s where the declaration fell flat on itâ€™s face, and I fear that any real chance of the black community getting on board with this pledge was thwarted by this language:
Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USAâ€™s first African-American President.
If this initiative expected any support from black churches, moderate to conservative blacks, community and other pro-family organizations that could have HELPED them spread a potentially positive message just evaporated in a puff of smoke.
I am befuddled that â€œThe Family Leaderâ€ could get the American history so disastrously wrong. Â Black slaves were not allowed to be married. Â While they had their own â€œsymbolic marriage,â€ by jumping over a broom, which signifies two people leaving one life and jumping into a new one together, that was as close as African slaves could get to marriage. Â Black men were used as studs, and black women were treated as brood mares, and their offspring were separated and sold. Â How anyone is government unaware to this well-documented truth completely boggles my mind.
And thatâ€™s where â€œThe Family Leaderâ€ blew it. Â Now I fear, nothing they could ever say could get black people who are pro-marriage and pro-family on board to support them, which is sad. Â Black people have by far the highest out-of-wedlock rate (73%) than any other race in America. Â Theyâ€™ve sinceÂ removed the language, but itâ€™s way to late. Â The horse is out of the barn.
When policy makers and organizations use ignorant language like this, you miss the opportunity and marginalize yourselves. Â What the organization should have said is that the black family was the strongest after slavery, when they had the highest marriage rate. Â At the time Martin Luther King Jr. did his â€œI Have a Dreamâ€ speech, over 70% of black children were being raised by a married mother and father. Â Thatâ€™s what â€œThe Family Leaderâ€ should have said.
But itâ€™s too late. Â Now no one whoÂ shouldÂ be listeningÂ willÂ be listening. Â And thatâ€™s a shame.