Katrina's Unintended Consequence: A National Dialogue on Fatherhood?

By Jessica Peck Corry (Jessica@JessicaCorry.com) Rocky Mountain News editor Vince Carroll hits the nail on the head in his Tuesday analysis of the liberal push to have a national “conversation on poverty” in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

He writes: “until Katrina, we are supposed to believe only media commentators, academics and Democratic politicians thought or cared about poverty, because—well, because they’re just a lot more compassionate and thoughtful than everyone else.”

The fact of the matter is that most Americans--regardless of their political views--are compassionate, caring people--the vast majority, however, are consumed by their own financial and family obligations thus preventing them the luxury of partaking in such an academic dialogue. The problems are immense, beginning with the poverty that persists in inner-city America despite billions of dollars devoted to so-called solutions every year.

If we are going to have a real dialogue about poverty and race in America, Carroll writes, we must look honestly at factors leading to poverty. Seventy percent of black babies are born to single mothers (a figure closer to 80 percent in New Orleans, according to many estimates) compared to just 30 percent of white babies.

Marriage, traditionally defined in America as a moral institution—is perhaps even more significant as an economic one. Consider this: black two-parent households have an earning potential as high (or even higher in some cases) as white families in almost every state in the nation, with the exception of some in the Southeast where college education rates are extremely low for black men.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen many courageous single mothers become the face of Katrina. These woman should be saluted for their commitment to their children. Down the road, however, as we pick up the pieces left in Katrina’s aftermath, we must ask an essential question: when will our society stop making excuses for fathers—black or white—who abandon their children?