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Shelly Aldean: An amorphous movement

By Shelly Aldean

In a decidedly gutsy move, retired NFL defensive end Marcellus Wiley (an African-American) recently explained his reasons for opposing the painting of Black Lives Matter (BLM) on the floor of basketball courts. Unlike many of us, Wiley actually took the time to read the mission statement of BLM as posted online and noticed that the objectives of the organization go far beyond police brutality and the message implicitly inferred in the name itself. BLM asserts, among other things, its desire to “dismantle the patriarchal practice … and disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement …”

In response, Wiley reflected on how important it was for him as a child to have an intact family unit and how destructive the absence of this cohesive social structure has been for children raised in single-parent households including many of his childhood friends. He then proceeded to tick off the following statistics from 1995 — children from single-parent homes are five times more likely to commit suicide, six times more likely to be in poverty, nine times more likely to drop out of high school, 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances, 14 times more likely to commit rape, 20 times more likely to end up in prison and 32 times more likely to run away from home. The implications of these numbers to the future health of society and the positive progression of future generations are disturbing.

In an article published in the Atlantic earlier this year, co-authors W. Bradford Wilcox, a senior fellow at the Institute of Family Studies, and Hal Boyd, an associate professor of family law, concluded that “Whatever the merits of extended or other nonnuclear forms of family life, research has yet to show that they are entirely equipped to shoulder the unique role of a child’s two parents.” Robert Sampson, a Harvard sociologist, affirms this assertion by insisting that “Family structure is one of the strongest, if not the strongest predictor of variations in urban violence across cities in the United States.”

Working with a team of scholars, two of Sampson’s Harvard colleagues, economists Raj Cherry and Nathaniel Hendren, have concluded that “black boys are more likely to achieve upward economic mobility if there are more black fathers in a neighborhood and more married couples as well.”

It was further concluded that for poor children of all ethnicities, there is an inverse relationship between economic success and being raised in a neighborhood with a large percentage of single parents.

At a time when we should be championing the benefits of intact families as a way of improving conditions in our communities, there are those who are trying to dismantle the very unit that provides societal cohesion and stability in favor of a more disjointed, disparate culture.

I know from my own experiences as a child, the benefits of being raised by a pair of loving parents. Both my mother and father were dominant influences in my life, providing me with the daily structure I needed to become self-aware and self-disciplined. They taught me the value of honesty and hard work and the satisfaction that comes from accomplishing something of value, but, perhaps more importantly, they provided me with a sense of physical safety that a lot of children are now being denied, especially in Black communities where gun violence in recent weeks have claimed the lives of multiple children.

In a recent televised exchange between CNN host Don Lemon and African-American actor Terry Crews, Crews questioned why BLM was seemingly ignoring the issue of Black-on-Black crime. In response, Lemon insisted that the Black Lives Matters movement isn’t about Black-on-Black crime, it’s about police brutality. A quick perusal of the BLM website dispels this notion since mention is made of multiple other objectives including empowering Black transgender people, building space “that affirms Black women and is free from sexism, misogyny, and environments in which men are centered” and, as previously mentioned, dismantling the nuclear family.

In the final analysis, I sincerely hope that Crews’ desire to “unite people” regardless of race, creed, color or ideology is an idea that we all, as part of the human family, can embrace. I am fearful that people in this country are becoming increasingly impatient with the “cancel culture” as their institutions are attacked, their traditions are assaulted, and the safety of their communities is threatened with the end result that any sympathy they might have felt for the legitimate grievances of the victims of law enforcement abuses will be subsumed by anger, frustration and forceful pushback.