The generation of Brenda’s babies

November 4, 2011
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Brenda’s gotta baby….” You know how the rest of the song by Tupac Shakur goes.

But where is Brenda’s baby now? That was in 1991, 20 years ago.

All last month, I heard the onslaught of discourses pertaining to black politics, economics and social justice.

John Fountain III

I have heard about the depressing incarceration and graduation rates pertaining to black males ages 15 to 29.

I have heard of how these males are more likely to die of homicide at the hands of one of their peers.

I have heard about longer school days, safer neighborhoods and blah, blah, blah!

All this got me to reminiscing about my brief time spent at Rezin Orr High School on Chicago’s West Side. I remember seeing all the pregnant girls walking in the halls. Pregnancy was like True Religion jeans — everybody had to have them! I remember some of them transferring to alternative schools for pregnant teens. I recall that most of their baby daddies would not offer any support.

And then I started to wonder what happened to those babies.

It dawned on me.

Are some of their sons adding to the crisis in impoverished neighborhoods? These girls, now women, were not able to teach their children lessons about being productive in society. Hell, I remember how much of a hardhead I was. So, I am all too familiar with the “don’t tell me sh—” attitudes of some of these girls at that time.

Mothers cry because their sons are shot dead, and some of them don’t have the nerve to even whimper. You knew what your son was doing on the corner.

But it really didn’t matter just as long as he gave you money when you asked for it. Or how about when you wail in the courtroom as the judge sentences him to life in prison for committing a crime?

You knew damn well when he was taking pictures holding up the Vice Lord gang sign, and his daddy, cousin or uncle saying, “Lil n—, you gone be just like me!” that he was going to grow up to be a menace.

So while we have this debate about what is better for the state of our children, we should also consider this notion of personal accountability.

Why is it that when certain people make bad choices they leave it up to society to handle their mess? After the struggle of the first two or three children, why would you go and have more? Oh, yeah, public aid — that’s over.

Meanwhile some of you never took time to learn to read, get a GED or a vocation, claiming that you had all of these mouths to feed. But who put you in that situation to begin with? You!

Stop blaming people for your mistakes.

I get that some of you were products of the crack generation. Your parents were too strung out to provide for you. So, in knowing this, why would you want to be a part of the cycle?

I know someone is going to comment and say white kids aren’t angels either. Yes, I know. But white kids aren’t 40 percent of the prison population, but only 14 percent of the general population. White males graduate at higher rates than blacks.

I will add to the whole controversy and say that longer school days will not protect your children, better educate them, get them into college, keep them off of the street, turn off B.E.T., cut off Lil Wayne and Drake, or teach them self esteem.

That’s your job!

austintalks.org@gmail.com

10 thoughts on “The generation of Brenda’s babies

  1. Very well stated. Folks can get mad if they want to but the truth is the truth! I added to the population boom of the 90s, having had 2 children by 1992 at the ripe young age of 21. While I don’t have sons born of that generation, I can attest that the daughters of my peers aren’t faring much better. Far too many of the girls I grew up with became grandmothers well before they reached their 40th birthday. This happened because the cycle wasn’t broken and our young women weren’t taught any better. I took a long hard look at my life and decided I wanted better for my girls and me. Nineteen years has passed since my second oldest was born and I’m glad (I have an issue with saying I’m proud) to say today I’m a college educated, married mother of four that doesn’t have any grandchildren. I’ve not one time had to deal with my girls bringing home any of “Brenda’s bad boys” because I gave them the real and raw facts of how life could be if they chose to date the kind of guy.

  2. Very well stated. Folks can get mad if they want to but the truth is the truth! I added to the population boom of the 90s, having had 2 children by 1992 at the ripe young age of 21. While I don’t have sons born of that generation, I can attest that the daughters of my peers aren’t faring much better. Far too many of the girls I grew up with became grandmothers well before they reached their 40th birthday. This happened because the cycle wasn’t broken and our young women weren’t taught any better. I took a long hard look at my life and decided I wanted better for my girls and me. Nineteen years has passed since my second oldest was born and I’m glad (I have an issue with saying I’m proud) to say today I’m a college educated, married mother of four that doesn’t have any grandchildren. I’ve not one time had to deal with my girls bringing home any of “Brenda’s bad boys” because I gave them the real and raw facts of how life could be if they chose to date the kind of guy.

  3. John, honestly do you ever get sick and tired of harping on your favorite subject- single black women who aren’t measuring up to your standards? Remember– He without sin shall cast the first stone.

    While the effects and impact of single parenting is a worthy concern, it’s hardly motivating to continuously lay the blame at the feet of single mothers. Since you’re on time trip, lets remember that in the 90s, there was a large shift in the black community perceptive on single motherhood, going from shame to a celebration of sorts. Here are a few questions i hope you address in your next column:

    1)Why is there an absence for a push for sex ed in schools in high-risk neighborhoods?
    2) What’s the real impact of single parenting proliferating? Aside from crime and poverty?

  4. Jennifer,

    I for one appreciate John’s drive to talk about this subject, and other subjects related to issues in his community and race. I DON’T get tired of discussing this specific subject, and I completely agree with John that there is a huge culture lacking personal accountability and responsibility. I large part of the blame DOES fall onto these mothers that made the choice to have children they can not raise. An equal amount of blame falls on the fathers that knock these girls up and move onto the next (most probably males that came from the same cycle of disfunction).

    I encounter A LOT of these single mothers, and it’s a similar story over and over… some many believe that society owe them everything, yet they should not have to work for it, and that they’re entitled to party whenever they want. I once met a teen, whose 18 month old learnt how to open the fridge and feed himself because he was hungry, and “mommy” was too busy with her own “stuff”. I shudder to think what that boy will grow up to become. They obviously did not get the memo that states your party days end when you have a child.

    The majority of teens do not have what it takes to raise a child, let alone raising one or more by themselves. Add of the attitude of selfishness, and you have an explosive combination for the future.

    Jennifer, your first question is good, but it does not negate the points in John’s article. Your second question implies that there’s some other larger impact, but there really isn’t… the largest impact that single African American mothers will have IS more crime and poverty when their children grow up.

    John’s article brings up important issues that need to be addressed. These mothers, and their children, need to learn responsibility, and learn self-accountability, or else what already seems like an out of control web of disfunction will become an epidemic.

    We do not need more kids in our society turning to gangs and drugs just because their mothers and long gone fathers didn’t have the foresight to see the mess they’d make, or care about how their actions affect society.

    It’s time to learn to clean up your own mess! Society is NOT your servant!

  5. To continue, I’, really glad that there is someone like John writing articles on here, because typically there is so much self congratulating about overcoming struggles, and so much shifting of responsibility to society, or other people… it’s not only refreshing, but hopeful to see that there’s someone who’s can be objective, and voice the faults in his community, where I’m sure his opinion is probably not very popular.

    Thank you John for having the courage to make people in your community face their demons.

    Unfortunately, I’m going to guess that the people who should be reading and learning from the article are probably too busy out there partying, watching BET, getting knocked up… I really cannot see how things will improve.

  6. Guy,
    First off thanks for reading. You are right, my point of view isn’t popular.

    Secondly, I’ll be the first to admit that I really don’t think things will get better.

    And lastly, I just write about these issues because it behooves me that no one else is discussing them. It is frustrating. So, rather than stand in the financial districts or attempt to convert people to my faith, I would prefer to just write it out.

    Thank you.

  7. I really don’t think that teenagers understand what they are doing when they bring a child into this world that they are not ready for mentally and emotionally or financially. While a new baby is cute at first and everyone around you is full of smiles and contratulations, reality sets in as the child grows. It is extremely difficult to support a child and yourself without skills or education, and I don’t think teenagers realize this. Also, it is important for you to have time to enjoy your own life, have fun and explore new opportunities before you bring a child into this world. If you don’t do it before you have the child, you will still want to do it later, it just will be much harder.
    After you have a child, your life is no longer just about you. Take time to think before you bring a child into this world too soon.

  8. I agree with the article. If laws were changed requiring at minimum that teen mothers receiving public aid benefits be required to take parenting as a condition of receiving the benefits, the teen mothers would at least be equipped with some needed skills.

  9. True, true,true… all of the sentiments espressed above warrant some acknoledging….. especially the one who says he is likely preaching to the choir and the audience is missing. Frankly, I’m tired of social services being provided without impact and those who have the opportunity to capitalize on it abuse it. I’m tired of this hypocritical society saying “hush about safer sex, etc.” And I’m really tired of young women bringing more babies into this world without a clue. In that it is not my place to judge or be a savior, I’ll just be tired and provide the services I provide.

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