Seven and a half months into Ta-Shai Pendleton’s first pregnancy, her child was stillborn. Then in early 2008, she bore a daughter prematurely. Soon after, Ms. Pendleton moved from a community in Racine that was thick with poverty to a better neighborhood in Madison. Here, for the first time, she had a full-term pregnancy.
As she cradled her 2-month-old daughter recently, she described the fear and isolation she had experienced during her first two pregnancies, and the more embracing help she found 100 miles away with her third.
It is an iron-clad rule, presumably taught in journalism schools, that when discussing black single mothers and their children, one must never, ever ask: Who and where is the father, and how many fathers are there? Tens of thousands of articles have been written about the struggles of black single mothers, and the appearance of their children is always treated as a virgin birth. Not only are there no fathers in sight in such articles, there is no curiosity about where the fathers are and why they’re not stepping up to the plate. Instead, the reader will learn in great detail either about the callous lack of taxpayer-funded social services or, as in the present article on black infant mortality, about the provisions that a wise and benevolent government has made available to the mothers and their miraculously-conceived children, who seem to appear with the same inevitability as the tides.
When [Brandice Hatcher] learned last June that she was pregnant, Ms. Hatcher said, “I didn’t know how to be a parent and I didn’t know what services could help me.”
Over the summer she started receiving monthly visits from Laura Berger, a county nurse, who put her in touch with a dentist . . . . Ms. Hatcher had been living in a rooming house, but she was able to get help from a program that provided a security deposit for her apartment. . . . Under a state program, a social worker visits weekly and helps her look for jobs. And she receives her prenatal care from the community center’s nurse-midwives.
Very nice. But no amount of government programs can possibly compensate for the wholesale exemption of males from the responsibility of caring for their children. The fiction of the inner city virgin birth makes for a booming social service sector, but it otherwise spells disaster for a culture.