An Honest Conversation About Race (Through Hip-Hop) Part Six: Abortion & Fatherlessness

J. Cole’s “conscious music masterpiece” broaches two topics that hardly figure into mainstream discussions about blacks in America: mass abortion and fatherlessness. It is rather strange seeing as that is all people ever talk about these days—Black people, this! Black bodies, that!—and, besides, that the facts are not at all difficult to parse—even we were able to sniff ‘em out. 

We do not condone abortion. We view the practice as murder. Nevertheless, we do understand and commiserate with the terrible calculations and feelings young women are forced to deal with in the face of an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy; who may be facing the prospect of raising a child on their own. 

For as passé as it sounds, children need fathers. Not just for insemination and fertilization. Paternal investment in children is a foundational aspect of humanity; it is arguably one of the strategies that elevated us so far beyond our primitive and laughable ape cousins. Being brought up without dads is an unequivocal detriment to kids. 

Caveats aside, we can say that women should not be pardoned for their improprieties. Being a malignant sexist, it behooves the writer to charge them with the degree of agency and responsibility we do with men. Save for circumstances involving coercion and/or force—obviously!—ladies make conscious decisions. They select the men they let fuck them and the terms upon which said fucking occurs. They assess the man’s character and know the consequences of their actions. They are partly to blame if they allow homeboy to knock them up, as well as if he dips afterwards.

Young black women are more likely than any other group of females in the US to become pregnant while young and unmarried, with 70 percent of their children being born without the confines and bonds of marriage. They are second, behind non-Hispanic white women, in rates of abortion; 33 per cent of abortions in the US are of black babies. That’s over 20 million black babies since abortion was legalized in 1973.

In “Lost Ones”, Cole waxes from both the perspectives of a young, expectant mother and her ostensibly admirable sire. While she is adamant about taking the kid to term and raising it, he professes his remorse and sense of inadequacy to take up the task. 

“See, I’ve been givin’ it some thought lately

And frankly I feel like we ain’t ready and this—

Hold up now, let me finish!

Think about it, baby, me and you, we still kids ourself

How we gonna raise a kid by ourself?” 

Cole may be giving the song’s male protagonist too much credit. It is more likely that most black guys who knock up their girlfriends give the result of their actions no such deliberation. Rather, they “be knockin’ girls up and skate out.” 

For example, focus all the attention you can muster towards objectively examining the life of Dr. George Floyd, amateur abortionist. This apparent model for black men everywhere, the martyr who “changed the world,” was extraordinarily fecund and flighty; siring five children from at least two different women, some of whom apparently had no idea who he was until their mothers pointed it out upon seeing his now indelible visage on television. His youngest child lived with her mother in Houston, Texas, over 1,000 miles away from her father who had departed for Minneapolis in 2014, after serving five years in prison.

“I let you hit it raw, mothafucka!

Now I’m pregnant, you don’t wanna get involved, mothafucka?

Tryna take away a life—is you God, mothafucka?!

I don’t think so! This a new life up in my stomach

Regardless if I’m your wife, this new life here, I’ma love it

I ain’t budgin’, I just do this by my mothafuckin’ self

See, my mama raised me without no mothafuckin’ help”

The words of Cole’s female protagonist, too, present circumstances that are regularly much worse through a rose-tinted filter. It may very well be that black girls do not care much whether the fathers of their children stick around, or even actively push them out. When the federal and state governments are so generous with the benefits they offer to unwed mums, oftentimes it can pay off to raise kids without a man around.  

Though it is frequently argued that welfare recipients receive little in terms of actual money, when the dollar value of tax-free healthcare, education, and food stamps are taken into consideration, that argument falls apart faster than the black family after LBJ’s Great Society. Consequently, keeping one’s family intact and acquiring education, training, or work experience to earn more money wind up coming with costs that greatly outweigh any short- to medium-term benefits. 

A woman would be taking a massive “pay cut” were she to involve herself with the father of her children, who on one hand, as noted in the section on A Tribe Called Quest’s “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo”, is likely to have only a high school diploma or less, and a low-paying, low-skilled job. If he has one at all. On the other, as stats outlined in section about Police Brutality and N.W.A’s “Fuck Tha Police” show, is likely to be a no-good thug jailbird; if he has not yet been smoked by another no-good thug jailbird. In essence, the children become meal tickets that the man is merely a means to beget.

Cole, rapping as the woman, continues:

“From a man, but I still don’t understand how you could say that

Did you forget all those conversations that we had way back

‘Bout your father? And you told me that you hate that nigga

Talkin’ about he a coward and you so glad that you ain’t that nigga

‘Cause he left your mama when she had you and he ain’t shit

And here you go doin’ the same shit… You ain’t shit, nigga!”

In the words of Dr. Warren Farrell, a speaker and prolific writer on men’s and women’s issues, “Both Dad-deprived boys and girls suffer in fifty-plus areas of development[…]” This report by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, replete with citations, gives us an idea of how growing up without a father does harm to children. What follows are some of its noteworthy points regarding the sexual proclivities of fatherless children:

“A girl whose father leaves before she is five years old is eight times more likely to have an adolescent pregnancy than a girl whose father remains in her home.”

“African-American girls are 42 percent less likely to have sexual intercourse before age 18 if their biological father is present at home.”

“Boys that are close with their fathers have better attitudes about intimacy and the prospect of their own married lives than boys who do not feel close to their fathers.”

“Adolescents who live without their father are more likely to engage in greater and earlier sexual activity, are more likely to become pregnant as a teenager, and are more likely to have a child outside of marriage.”

These points alone give great insight into how the cycle of fatherlessness and human degradation perpetuates itself. Individuals raised without dads are likely to bring their own kids up without dads and so forth.

Those who are inclined to dismiss these facts—so-called Liberals, Progressives, and Lefties of all shades of red—as racist propaganda symptomatic of systemic racism or whatever, may be shocked to find that their ideological predecessors took them quite seriously. For example, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyy back in 1986, life-long Democrat and former press secretary to US President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, produced a special report for CBS about this very dynamic; it was titled, The Vanishing Family: Crisis in Black America.

In the special report, Moyers talks to actual Negroes living in the slums of Newark, New Jersey. Just the first few minutes of the piece are illustrative of our point. 

The association between fatherlessness and deviant and criminal behaviour, may appear to give credence to the idea that abortion is an effective means of reducing crime. Allowing parents to kill off their unwanted babies results in fewer kids being raised in tumultuous single-parent homes to grow up to be criminals. This association, first posited by researchers John Donahue III and Steven Levitt in 2001, has been disputed ever since

They asserted that the decrease in the commission of murder among teenagers in the US 18 or so years after Roe v. Wade, could be attributed to the legalization of abortion.

One of their critics, Steven Sailer, pointed out that homicide rates for 14- to 17-year olds in 1993 were nearly quadruple what they were for 14- to 17-year olds in 1984. That for just black males, the 1993 homicide rates were five times greater than in 1984. 

Sailer explained that, to the contrary, it is possible that legal abortion led to the births of more unwanted and neglected children. Assuming that there is an extremely irresponsible group of people (which he deemed the black underclass, contrasted with the more responsible black working class) who did not just neglect to use contraception, but eschewed aborting their unplanned children as well; these youngins would have gone on to wreak the havoc seen during the crack epidemic of the 1980’s and early 90’s.

Therefore, whatever effect abortion may have on reducing the incidence of crime by eliminating some undesireables, is cancelled by its contributions to the births of what can be said to be even less desireables. 

Ironically, the fanatical posturing in support of black lives typically erupts from those who also extol abortion and social programs as human rights, essential to the flourishing of society. In whose minds it is only barbaric and religious and miserly subhumans who support their abolition. 

When one continually promotes ideas and policies that disproportionately harm the groups they simultaneously proclaim they wish to help, eventually onlookers must adopt the conclusion that their true intentions are, indeed, to do harm.

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