[FATHER/HOOD] Villages Don’t Raise Children Anymore


Let’s go way back. On the 1996 De La Soul classic Stakes Is High, Posdnuos emceed “Neighborhoods are now ’hoods/’Cause nobody’s neighbors/Just animals/Surviving with that animal behavior,” and ignited a huge conversation. At the time, people who agreed and disagreed were evenly matched. Fast-forward 17 years, and many of us are having the same dispute.

One side argues that the lack of a cohesive Black community is a media fabrication. The other side accuses Black folks of thinking we “made it,” a supposed fallacy brought about by the mythologizing of the Civil Rights Movement and the election of Barack Obama. The truth, as always, is quite a bit more complex.

For the past decade, I’ve been working with adolescent males in the juvenile justice and mental health systems. I do community-based work, so I’m always where the people live and work. During the course of my day I see heartbreaking things, but the following killed me. They happened 10 minutes apart:

1. A teenage sister was walking with a little girl. She took the girl’s bottle, poured out the water, filled it with soda, and gave it back to the little girl, who eagerly drank.

2. A young couple was walking down the street, pushing a baby boy in a stroller. The baby became fussy, so the young woman picked the baby up, hugged and kissed him. The young man snatched the little boy and shoved him back into his stroller. The little boy started to wail. The young man looked at the young woman and said, “You better stop spoiling that little ni;;a. You want that little ni;;a to be b!+¢h?”

After those incidents, I felt disappointed in myself because I didn’t step in to offer support. This was new for me, as I always intervene. Always. I live by a simple code: Act the way you want the world to be. Don’t react to the way that it is. I want the world to be a place where children are raised in love and health. So, what stopped me?

Read the rest of Shawn Taylor’s “Villages Don’t Raise Children Anymore” at EBONY.com.

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

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