I have become my father. My sons are becoming my father’s son. That is the way it is supposed to be…
But we don’t live in an ideal world. We live in my old neighborhood, Sherman Park. You know – the one in Milwaukee that was on fire last weekend. It was set on fire after a black cop shot a black criminal.
That is what we are told.
What we are not told is that our communities have been on fire long before the first match was struck in Ferguson. Across the country, our communities have been smoldering since the first father was sent away from the home by the brain trust behind the Great Society.
The Great Society started to slowly stoke the flames by turning the working poor into the idle. You see, a family could only receive government assistance if there was a single mother. So “welfare” actually incentivized fathers to say, “well, see ya,” so mom and kids could have a better life. Goodbye daddy, your family is better off without you. At least financially. Come around every once in a while, but make sure no one knows you’re here.
And they left….dutifully. So it isn’t really that mysterious what happened to entire generations of young men of African descent. It isn’t a mystery at all.
What can a boy become when he has no father to emulate? Lost. What can a boy become when he has only criminals to admire? Drug dealers and scammers. What does a boy become when he can only watch a struggling single mother navigate poverty? Angry and rightly so.
Yes, it’s true that there were fathers who stuck around and provided for their families – often with smaller paychecks than the government was handing out. I know, because my father was one of those hardworking fathers who refused to believe the broken promises of the not-so-great society.
I’ve always admired my father for the example he set for me and my sister. But his example was too often the exception to the rule.
Without fathers at home, so many of our inner-city neighborhoods began to crumble. For the many years I lived in Sherman Park, it was on the precipice. It did not crumble, but the foundations were wearing away, and there were visible cracks in a once-solid structure.
For generations before, Sherman Park was known as a true community – and in some pockets it still is – but as the number of aimless, hopeless and misguided young men increased, even the once-strong Sherman Park is having trouble standing.
I prefer for the federal government to stay out of family business. But if it has to intercede, it should do so in ways that keep families together. Instead it has served as an agent of destruction.
The truth is that the government can’t put out the fire it started. Only the strong arms of strong men of faith can douse the flames and restore stability and hope. The same stability my father provided that allowed me to thrive.
What would my father say if he were alive today? I look at my thriving sons, and I thank God that I had his example to follow.
A government – any government — can’t be that father; we can and must.
James T. Harris is a conservative radio show host and social media sensei. You can find him on KQTH, 104.1 FM on your radio dial or livestreaming.