David Miller

*It’s no secret that the institution of the two-parent household has fallen on some hard times in Black America.

According to statistics the paucity of such couplings has become so severe that the Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families has placed special emphasis on its African-American Healthy Marriage Initiative, which is a part of its larger Healthy Marriage Initiative.

Although make a strong case that children who grow up in healthy married, two-parent families do better on a host of outcomes than those who do not, the reality is that a clear majority of African American children are growing up in single-headed households.

How the Black community responds to the circumstances that drives this condition is critical, however, equally important are the support resources that can be offered to single-parents (a majority of whom are women), while they engage in the rigors required to be a successful parent.

In his new book, Raising Him Alone Book – Things Black Women Can Do to Raise Boys to Be Men, former educator David Miller provides a platform for single mothers to share their goals and concerns unique to raising healthy and productive black men. Featuring valuable tips and resources, the book also serves as an introduction to Miller’s nationwide program, Raising Him Alone (RHA), which dedicated to researching, designing, and implementing support for the social well being of single mothers raising boys.

The Robertson Treatment recently spoke with David to find out more information about his new book and program.

Robertson Treatment: Why does the condition of single parenthood continue to plague the African American community?

David Miller: With an alarming 72% of African American children born out of wedlock an over whelming percentage of these children are being raised by mothers & grandmothers.  Nationwide about 24 million children go to bed every night with without a hug or kiss from Dad.  Fatherlessness in America costs the U.S. Government close to 100 Billion dollars a year.  The long term economic and social challenges related to absent fathers is crippling America.  Over the years we have come to recognize that father absence is one of the largest social issues that this nation must confront.

Additionally, fathers and men have not created minimal standards for fatherhood.  Thus many men are able to have a baby and leave.

Many of the challenges African American families face today can be attributed to the marginalization of the role of the family and the erosion of communities.  For example growing up in the 70’s we learned that “responsible fatherhood was at least a 25-30 year commitment,” this no longer seems to be a common theme within the community.

Finally, through music, popular culture and parenting young males are socialized to not be accountable for major life decisions like having a baby.

RT: One might assume that a man who comes from such an environment  would instead focus on different behavior models as a parent?

DM: So many families in our community have become locked into a generational cycle of absent parents, poverty and poor educational experiences. Many of the boys and men we meet have never had a sober & responsible father and or male role model in their life. Having these kinds of men in the lives of ours sons helps to reinforce positive aspects of “Manhood” as well as helps define the role of men in society.

We have an image problem within the African American community. It begins will defining and highlighting responsible manhood and the importance of fathers and families.

It is hard to get young men to “pull up their pants” if they do not see adult men pulling up their pants!

RT: Discuss the phrase “my baby’s moma” and the lifestyle it promotes in the African American community?

DM: It is a term that we are not fond of because it diminishes the essence and the role of motherhood.  This seems to be a popular term often used by fragmented families to describe the mother of a man’s children.  Much of the negative language being used in reference to mothers & fathers who are not together continues to perpetuate negative stereotypes in our community.

RT: What can communities do to make a difference in the life of single parent children?

DM: Greater advocacy and support is need for single parents and grandparents. This support would focus on increasing parenting based resources (training & coaching), support groups for parents, mental health resources (individual & family counseling), financial literacy resources.

Often single parent are so overwhelmed that it is difficult for them to participate in PTA meetings and other meetings related to their child’s development.

Additional as a larger community we must begin to deconstruct the myths and stereotypes related to being a single mother in America. According to US Census data over 70% of single mothers are employed.  It seems that much of the discussion about single mothers suggested that the live in the projects and receive social services. These kinds of stereotypes are grossly inaccurate and impact that psyche of single mothers, many who work hard and support their families.

Many of the single mothers that we interviewed for our first book, “Raising Him Alone: Things Black Women Can Do to Raise Healthy Boys to Become Men” were college educated. Several had MBA’s, law & doctorate degrees but due to life’s circumstances had become single mothers.

RT: Tell us more about your Raising Him Alone Campaign?

DM: The campaign’s goal is to reclaim families through strengthening the coping & resiliency skills of mothers and grandmothers raising boys.  We believe that if we can reach mom we stand a better chance of reconnecting dad.  The campaign believes that fathers are the “secret weapons in our community.” However, mothers usually determine the amount of access dad will have with his children.

The campaign uses a combination of grassroots community workshops as well as a “Learning Community” to disseminate positive parenting information to families. Using our web site www.raisinghimalone.com families can get connect to a variety of topics related to raising a male child. These resources include a bi-weekly eblast that goes to over 11,000 single mothers, grandmothers and organizations that work with parents.  The campaign also sends out monthly motivational voice mail messages to the parents in our networks.  The campaign also offers quarterly Tele- conferences calls and access to our Face Book Group for single mothers (Single mothers raising boys).

Finally, on Nov 27, 2010 the campaign will launch Changing Fatherhood a web site www.changingfatherhood.com dedicated to fathers. This new web site is designed to redefine the images of fathers of color. The site will speak to all aspects of responsible fatherhood. Sections will address married, divorce, long distance, coming home from incarceration, military and single dads.

The goal is to connect 20,000 fathers within our first year.

The campaign is funded in part from a grant through the Open Society Institute’s- Campaign for Black Male Achievement.

RT: What does our future look like if the condition of single parenthood persist?

DM: The future does look promising for single mothers raising children. While we will continue to experience alarming rates of violence, poor school performance, fragmented families and alarming rates of men & women going to prison. A great deal of organizations across the country are refocusing their energy to address the plight of single mothers.

We have the power to “reclaim families” it will take much work and a well organized plan that will include all key stakeholders (individual families, churches, community groups, schools and a host of others)

The most critical component of our work in the future is to support the healthy connection of fathers and children.

BEST BETS – THEATRE  – “IN THE HEIGHTS”

BRAVISIMO !   “ In the Heights” explodes onto the Broadway Stage from the opening title tune, “In The Heights” until the closing “Finale”.  Infused throughout, the audience is swept into the “High Energy Performance” of a cast that is phenomenal ! Jordin Sparks makes her Broadway debut in a“nested community” of diverse and exceptionally talented performers.

The play personifies “Theatre for the New Millennium”.

The story of a family striving to provide a better life for their child (in this case their daughter Nina, portrayed by Jordin Sparks) is not a new one. However, exploring the rich and diverse culture and aspirations of Americans of Hispanic ancestry, the ethnicity of the main characters, is presented in a rousing  foot stompin’, hip swaying fashion. It is theatre at it’s best! It not only reflects the hopes and dreams of the Rosario family, one of the main character’s family,  it fuses the hopes and dreams of the entire community. This includes the community matriarch, Dona Claudia. In the end, it is the love, wisdom and generosity of Dona Claudia that reunites the family and the community as a whole.

Nothing is left to chance. The music and choreography make it impossible for anyone to sit still during the performance. The set created by Anna Louizos transports the audience to “El Barrio” the heart of “la comunidad”! The set captures every nuance of this culturally rich community from the backdrop of The George Washington Bridge to the corner bodega which is a central meeting place for the members of the community who are more like family than just neighbors. The Rosario’s Car/Limousine is the family business where Nina’s parent work long hours to support their daughter’s college education is another central location in the story line.

Although this story line is that of a family of Hispanic ancestry, the story reflects the very fabric of America and the personification of the American Dream. So for an exhilarating and inspiring night to remember on Broadway catch an American story told through the eclectic music and dance of, “In The Heights”! It is currently appearing on Broadway at The Richard Rodgers Theatre in New York City. “VIVA”, “In The Heights”!Lauvia Sherman

AUTOMOTIVE SPIN

Cadillac CTS Sedan

From the moment this ride caught my eye, I was immediately impressed with the Cadillac CTS Sedan. Although it is somewhat the new kid on the block, in the mid-size luxury car category, the CTS is a high-achiever that delivered more than I expected during my busy week spent up and down the Southern California coast.

Wow Factor: With its subtle blend of American brawn, punctuated by European elegance, the CTS is great to look at and even better to drive. However, what impressed even more about this ride (especially during these tight economic times) was the Eco option offered on my vehicle, which took a lot of pressure off my wallet.

Ride: My CTS Sedan was outfitted with a powerful 3.0-liter V6 engine and a great four-wheel suspension system, two features that translates into a really solid performance riding experience. The CTS Sedan’s excellent steering system and rear-wheel drive were definite assets that gave me strong confidence behind the wheel.

Comfort: For a mid-size sedan, the CTS provided both me and my passengers with a surprisingly amount of room to move around. I spent a lot of time behind the wheel of the CTS and found its seats scrumptious as they provided me with a great deal of support (especially lower back) during my long-haul drive between LA and San Diego. Driver comfort is further enhanced by the CTS Sedan’s easy to reach (and read) controls that includes all of the usual standard equipment, plus more advance technologies.

Spin Control:  With an EPA estimate that ranges from 16 – 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25-27 mpg on the highway, I predict that the Cadillac CTS Sedan will do very well in its driving segment. With all of its added enhancements and a MSP hovering in the mid-$30’s, Cadillac’s CTS Sedan will certainly give drivers a good return on their investment.

Grade: A