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The Double Standard Of “Loving” Boys And “Raising” Girls

The Dangers Of Loving Boys And Not Raising Them Too

Her Voice

In passing, I read a tweet that read, "A lot of mothers are actually the reason why their sons are toxic narcissistic assholes...but y'all aren't ready for that discussion." Triggered into deep thought of the many examples of this man who I have stumbled across in my life, I mentally shook my hand like a polaroid picture in the air per Andre 3000's instructions, fervently murmuring "owww" as if I could get her attention to let her know I was ready from over on this end.


I've heard my aunt talk a million times about raising a strong black girl with reckless regard for the type of son she is raising—one like her brother and many of the men I've come to know in my life who have been "loved" instead of raised.

It's no coincidence as she helped her mother to spoil and love her older brother to the impairment of his independence and ability to think in a way that reflects his physical age: 50! That of a grown ass man. And now I watch shaking my head as the cycle of men who don't do dishes, don't cook, and are disruptive to their environment are carried on the teet due to society's desire to infantilize boys long past the age of boyhood.

We raise girls—especially black girls—in a way that demands they grow up sooner than they should have to and etches the strong black woman trope into them bankrolling on it making them rather than breaking them.

The prejudice ways in which we treat boys and girls has dichotomous outcomes to say the least. The aforementioned examples are lite by comparison. "So what he doesn't do dishes. He's a little spoiled." But I've seen the dangerous side of raising boys inadequately due to their codependency on mothers as well, as codependency often comes tethered to a lack of accountability and willingness to admit what your child is capable of while out of your line of sight.

I watched my best friend of 20 years work her ass off in high school for a new car after a car accident that was truly an accident while her brother was bought 2-3 brand new cars in a two-year period — rewarded for his poor decisions to get behind the wheel under foolish circumstances.

I've watched as she has had to table her education because her mother wouldn't sign for a loan for her because she chose to do it for her son to attend an out-of-state institution he hadn't earned after years of his time in high school had been spent doing damage control on his poor decisions, including being kicked out of school.

The men in my world are but a microcosm of the world we live in.

I believe black mothers may be more gentle on our sons because they have a tough world to face once they leave the nest but that's all the more reason why we have to do better at finding balance and stop making acts of responsibility a gendered experience. What message does it send to little black girls when they're forced to carry little black boys on their back with little to no reciprocity due to the lack of responsibility and accountability we place on boys and men?

Girls are taught to be responsible while teaching both boys and girls that "boys will boys." And for the sake of time and energy, I won't even go into how this lack of accountability plays out in rape culture but baaaaby. What I will say is that it also plays into the adultification of black girls, or the belief that black girls are held more accountable for their well-being as it concerns sexual assault and other issues they face starting at the age of five, yet for black boys this age is ten. It does however create a cesspool of men for us women to choose from as they seek out women who have been to them what their sisters and mothers have been to them: pacifiers who coddle them from the real world.

What's more is that Black women are here to lift black men up out of reciprocity, not to be stepping stones.

Our role as black mothers (present and future) means creating the aforementioned balance that allows all children to be children as long as time will allow but prepares them to be efficient and self-sufficient in adulthood. And our role as a black community? Ensure that in black love, whether familiar or romantic, black men are still learning the importance of pouring back into their women in the ways that we pour into them.

The trope of the strong black woman -- the romanticizing of the black woman's strength -- will be the end of us. Being taught we must pour into everyone but ourselves will be the end of us. We have to pour into ourselves and be poured into, and this must be taught early on. We cannot continue to carry the entire team on our back; it's not good for us or our black male counterparts.

So when I speak of loving our boys to death, it's not just their detriment that I'm talking about but ours as well.

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Staples.

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