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Michael Eric Dyson: Marriage Pledge

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show,Michael Eric Dyson, professor of sociology at Georgetown University and author of Can You Hear Me Now?: The Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight of Michael Eric Dyson, discussed the Family Leader's "marriage pledge," as signed by Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum, that included the passage, "a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President."

Putting the 'slavery comment' in historical context

Dyson said slavery did have a disastrous effect on African American families--because it literally outlawed the family. African Americans could not be married under slavery, and slave owners purposely separated family members. Yet they came up with their own rituals, such as "Jumping the Broom" that recognized bonds, and as soon as slavery ended, African Americans married in great numbers.

The familial bonds, even though officially restricted by the state were so powerful that Black people were attracted to them nonetheless.

The modern context of African American 'broken families'

Dyson pointed out that there are societal injustices that compound the difficulties facing Black families, particularly the public policies that prevent men from being strong presences while receiving aid from the state for their children.

There's no question that African American families are under assault and that the marriageable pool index of Black people is being undermined by what--over-incarceration of Black men. Black women are being left alone because many Black men are being unjustly and unfairly imprisoned, besides the destructive practices that may be nurtured within the culture.

The statistic of children born out of wedlock in America is rising very fast across the board, but within African Americans it has reached 70 percent. Dyson doesn't deny the legitimacy of concerns that young African Americans are choosing not to marry, but he doesn't chalk this phenomenon up to the legacy of slavery.

A lot of families are under assault, marriage is declining in general across the board, and we know that when people have a lot of money and they happen to be White or richer, they end up not necessarily being indicted in the same way. If you have a child out of wedlock and you happen to be able to provide for them then fine. So it's not the moral stigma that's attached, it's the racial and sometimes gender stigma that's attached to people.

The Family Leader may be trying to address legitimate societal concerns with its 'marriage pledge,' but Dyson is concerned that they are distorting history through their ideological lens.

Guests:

Michael Eric Dyson

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Comments [65]

Shadeed Ahmad from New York City

Ultimately, to help prevent the cultural catastrophe of the disintegration of families in any group worldwide there are some fundamental tools.

An abundance of kindness, compassion, respect and logical thinking should be fostered in the makeup of human beings globally.

These tools of enlightenment are mandatory to raise the global consciousness and living conditions to dignified levels.

Jul. 16 2011 04:10 PM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@hilts

I have never heard Chris Matthews be anything other than dismissive of Ms. Bachman and her blather...

Let's see where her campaign goes when her husband is finally outed!

Jul. 13 2011 01:06 AM
Deadeye from NYC

A few things:

There are no illegitimate people on earth. What is the definition of illegitimate? Unlawful, illegal, irregular, not sanctioned by law or custom. If we were to associate "illegitimate" with people, then tons of married people would fit under the definition.

The reason for misbehaving, misguided children is the that the government now overrule parents. Parental instincts have been completely usurped by government oversight of EVERYTHING - disciplining your children, what your children eat, how your children learn. The state controls every aspect of family life.

@David from Ditmas Park - The materialism of the hip hop community derives from the materialism of American society. Are there any "middle class" people on TV anymore?? I knew Wall St bonuses were back when the sales of exotic cars and ultra-luxury homes rose this past spring. Our government sanctions taking resources from the poor & giving them to the rich.

@bernie from bklyn: the vast majority of the black community are productive citizens, but you'd never know it because the only thing ever discussed about the black community is how "bad" something is.

I'd also like to mention to you that most black men want to be an active participant in their children's lives, but due to the business, education and judicial environments that have become increasingly pro-female, it is becoming more difficult for ALL MEN to participate in familial life. But most of all, most black men have just as many children with multiple mothers as white men do. Multiple marriage/childrearing is just as prevalent in white communites, but its never discussed openly.

@gary from queens - racial discrimination does still exist (although not to the extent it was in our earlier history) but blacks can be successful despite it. There's too much wallowing in resentment of past injustices. Unfortunately this "anger" is reinforced by civil rights groups and churches because "oppression" is a big business. So few young people join these organizations today; younger blacks have a more optimistic view of black life but we are still aware of racial injustices.

I also agree with you with the the culture of dependency and inferiority that suplanted a strong family. It began in the 70s when Black areas were being devastated due to the loss of urban manufacturing, the heroin crisis and welfare programs that forced hardworking responsible men out of their homes. The hustlers, pimps and gangs moved in. Sadly, many young black men modeled themselves after the thugs because there were no other male role models to look up to.

@jgarbuz from Queens - Blacks from Africa & the Caribbean took control of their economy & society because Blacks are the populous majority in relatively small countries. Blacks in America have always contended with the issue of being the minority in a large nation. It was more difficult for our freedoms to be gained.

Jul. 12 2011 07:00 PM
Educated from Right here, right now!

I'm hearing some straight ignorance. First of all, African-Americans haven't failed--we've seen terrific success in light of being victimized by the greatest crime in history. There are innumerable contributions made in spite of the hypocritical and immoral denial of franchisement in society by a group some in this thread would consider blameless, non-complicit, innocent to the point of lack of note. Our culture exists (some would say cultures, but we won't split hairs here) and could require some strengthening. That is not failure, that is just showing room for improvement.

Many statistics show the need for improvement. However, not having a mother AND father in a home is not a prescription for moronic behavior. My wife and her sister were born into such a home, as was her sister. My wife earned a doctorate and her sister earned two masters degrees. Their success is not singular, but repeatable. However, it is evil to think that this nation (not just gov't but people) can stand figuratively stand on the neck of a people and then criticize that people for not standing quickly enough to satisfy the oppressor.

It's time to turn you ridiculous voices off and go about the business of strengthening our communities in the way we see fit--this requires we tell the cold hard truth of our history. I promise you, many of you won't like hearing that where you are in life is not wholly due to your best efforts and that of your forbears. Some of you spend my money when you pay your mortgages. Some of you live in my house and drive my car to my job. I take as an example the fact that MLB stats prior to full integration of the leagues are meaningless. Who cares how many home runs the Babe hit? He didn't have to face the best pitchers, he wasn't a colleague of the best hitters, and therefore is and will forever be subject in the eyes of the truly objective. The same applies to you, and you and you.

With best regards,

One who says it loud--I'm Black and I'm proud!

Jul. 12 2011 06:11 PM

Brian,

This had to be one of your worst "interviews" ever. You barely got a word in while the good Professor dodged the few softball questions you were able to ask. This was simply a very boring filibuster of cliches. Please book guests that are interested in dialog more than the sound of their own voice. Just awful....

Jul. 12 2011 05:31 PM

Brian,

This had to be one of your worst "interviews" ever. You barely got a word in while the good Professor dodged the few softball questions you were able to ask. This was simply a very boring filibuster of cliches. Please book guests that are interested in dialog more than the sound of their own voice. Just awful....

Jul. 12 2011 05:21 PM
gary from queens

Tony from Bayside

you asked, "So I guess your saying the reason american blacks have suffered is because of lack of a culture of there own?"

Whatever culture they were left with after slavery and jim crow was not helpful, and the culture of dependency and inferiority that suplanted a strong family, contributed to what we see today.

The Al Sharptons and Eric Dysan's (who defended Michael Vick and minimized his cruelty to dogs) and all the black baby boomers forgot that their children were overhearing their discussions about the past, and overreaction of racist demogoguery.

What had virtue has become a farce:
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/271109/s-racist-jonah-goldberg

Jul. 12 2011 02:55 PM
Linda Feller from Brooklyn

All the remarks about slavery ring true, but one. The DNA testing done on the ancestors of Thomas Jefferson said a Jeffersonian male had fathered Sally Hemmings children. The headlines in the papers the next day said "DNA proves Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemmings children" The next day a retraction was printed on the back pages to read:"A Jeffersonian male..." This does not alleviate or make light of the fact that Ms. Hemmings was raped, but in his lifetime Jefferson always denied that she was his "mistress".

Jul. 12 2011 02:49 PM
gary from queens

tony from bayside,

Of course the legacies of slavery and jim crow had a devastasting effect. including the examples you gave.

But the greatest effect was on the generation that endured that injustice. Not two generations later. You need institutions to keep the anger and resentment to continue, long after the initial injustice was discontinued.

My best buddy and co worker, bill baker (now deceased) was black. the most capable craftsman who succeeded because he would not let the condescending liberal culture make him feel inferior.

My step son is black, but he's been very industrious and worked hard all his life. he's 44 now. He's the most moral and generous person I ever knew. His Haitian father was a good role model in his work ethic.

If you wallow in resentment of past injustices, you get the 15 yr old palestinian who believes jews are forcing him to remain a refugee without a home, as opposed to europe and the UN and neighboring Muslim states.

Ask how many blacks youngsters want to betray their peers and people and become cops? In NY, it's high. in other cities, it's low. white youth want to follow in their dad's footsteps. there are no institutions whispering in their ear that it would be a betrayal. There are few Jews on the police force too. Do jews allege racial descrimination?! No. Culture and tradition determines what careers jews select. Same with blacks.

Jul. 12 2011 02:37 PM
tony from bayside

So I guess your saying the reason american blacks have suffered is because of lack of a culture of there own?

Jul. 12 2011 02:30 PM
gary from queens

What I meant to say was that the Jews in germany fell back on a culture that was compatible to the social environment of post war germany.

By contrast, the social environment of the Southern US in 1860 was not anything like that of Africa---from where blacks were taken from.

But it doesnt affect my point. Culture influences everything.

Jul. 12 2011 02:12 PM
tony from bayside

Gary, interesting point. I personally like your examples of Caribbean blacks and such. But what explains the complexion of the FDNY? I mean Blacks are only 3 percent of the department while 23 percent of the population. Did you hear the piece on npr about the disproportionate stop and frisks in nyc of blacks and other folks of color? You know well as I do that if we took a trip to Williamsburg we'll find at LEAST the same amount of drug use and possession amongst whites but not the same level of harassment or arrests. It is also a fact that lending practices amongst banks are still discriminatory.

Poor blacks are subject to the legacy of things never being that fair or equal. Did you know the New Deal excluded domestics and agriculture workers from receiving social security? Who do you think that effected most during that era? Do you know that Blacks were also disenfranchised from the GI bill and mortgage programs after WWII?

While I do believe there is definitely a level of personal responsibility we have to look at the history.

Jul. 12 2011 01:59 PM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Amy, I take your point. Thanks.

Jul. 12 2011 01:31 PM
Roy from Queens

Whether you agree with Dyson or not, the thing that's troublesome is that there are people who are insidious to equate African slavery to gay marriage.

I mean, as a black man, how the hell is two men or two women getting married to each other a danger?

Jul. 12 2011 01:12 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The antisocial "black subculture" came into being primarily because unlike Jews or Asians, they lost all vestiges of their West African tribal cultures, and were mixed up and dehumanized for centuries, Jews and Asians and most others had sages, histories, and moral codes written down in books they "shlepped" around with them from place to place.

By contrast, Blacks in the Caribbean were freed much earlier on, and developed entrepreneural habits, and a degree of self-reliance that American blacks have only recently come to experience en masse. Now that we have had a Black president, they can no longer dodge their greater social responsibilities and continue on with that anti-social mindset. While racism and antisemitism never die, nonetheless as long as fairness and equality of opportunity are enshrined and protected in law, the anti-social "rap" will continue to lose its earlier magnetic appeals. Interestingly enough, "Rap" has been taken up by many Whites as well as people abroad who consider themselves shortchanged as a means of expressing their frustration and rage. Personally, I don't care for "Rap" myself. Hurts my brain. :)

Jul. 12 2011 12:15 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Fuva, Brian & other interviewers often posit questions to give the guest a chance to answer them, not because they themselves think there's any legitimacy to them. He's actually addressing race ignorance, rather than participating in it. As some of the other comments show, plenty of people out there do think or at least wonder if it could be legitimate.

I like your point about the "butterfly effect."

Jul. 12 2011 12:02 PM
gary from queens

Tony from bayside:

Good question.

Are Jews living in Germany socially dysfunctional? No. Yet they too had everything taken from them. What they had was a healthy culture.

Blacks from the Carribean and modern africa succeed in the US. They too have a culture.

What "ghetto blacks" have today is a "culture of resentment". They watch "mississipee burning" (just played on WNET last saturday) and think those conditions still exist!

WHY? because people like Dyson (and my Aunt, who was a civil rights activist of note) maintain that racial descrimination still exists. People like John McWhorter and Shelby Steele argue that it's no longer significant. That it's black culture which is disenfrachising itself now.

Jul. 12 2011 11:35 AM
tony from bayside

Gary,

I feel the real discussion we all REALLY fearful of is that Blacks deserve a true mechanism level the playing field.

Jul. 12 2011 11:33 AM
tony from bayside

Gary,

So do you believe history and it's legacy have no bearing or effect on blacks today? Not to mention the continuing way blacks are treated by our society today...

Jul. 12 2011 11:29 AM
Kim from Harlem

Brian,

I'm glad someone actually discussed the use of African-Americans in this pledge and the distortion of History. I also think that Michael Eric Dyson does a public service when he addresses issues of race in the public sphere. However, I wonder if NPR missed a chance to expand it's roster of guests. There are very prominent female scholars in the NYC area who have written groundbreaking books addressing parenting and intimate relationships under slavery who are equally eloquent and a lot more informed. See, for example, Debora Gray White, Board of Governors Professor of History at Rutgers and Jennifer Lyle Morgan, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at NYU.

Jul. 12 2011 11:18 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

bernie,
the marriage rate in question -- which is more complicated than as presented -- is a manifestation of underlying conditions that are way older than 60 years.
And while I am a little worried about you, I am more worried about the historical and sociological unawareness your POV reflects, because it gets in the way of effectively addressing these kinds of problems, which affect us all.

Jul. 12 2011 11:09 AM
gary from queens

jgarbuz from Queens

i think we agree. not sure.

my view is that CULTURE determines most of it. that include many things, including role models, peer pressure, etc.

A black child raised in a Jewish or asian family and his neighborhood and friends are of that culture as well, is going to study hard in school and not wear bling and talk about evading cops etc.

Black subculture is the problem we fear discussing, ELSE people like Dyson will get on BL's show and demogogue us into silence.

Jul. 12 2011 11:09 AM
bernie from bklyn

Fuva-
i don't know what you mean. i'm not implying anything more than what i'm saying....as dyson said himself, 80% of all black kids in the '50's came from 2 parent households. this is a relatively recent thing.
it's a cycle that needs to be broken and it's only 60 years old so breaking isn't as hard some might think.
stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and worry about yourself.

Jul. 12 2011 11:01 AM
FC

This may come off sounding wrong but why is the first cited example about the black community? I am pretty sure that the members of this organization are lnot a members of that community and pretty much largely removed from that community. Why is it that conservatives who advocate the "your on your own" mentality feel the need to constantly point out the flaws (real or perceived) of the black community as opposed to talking about what's going on in their own? This becomes especially offensive when you think of the levels of meth use, child abuse, wife abuse, corruption, organized crime et al that goes on in their communities.

Jul. 12 2011 10:59 AM
hilts

Signing this pledge is just one more example of the nonstop buffoonery Michele Bachmann has demonstrated since she began serving in Congress. Yet, clowns in the MSM like Chris Matthews give her a free pass and continue to take her seriously.

Jul. 12 2011 10:58 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

bernie,
then how did the black community get broken?
Was it "broken" when mothers/fathers/children were pulled from their families, chained and rounded up onto the slave ship Jesus?...
There is a subtext, a certain thread to what you're saying; there's something you seem to be implying, that you should just make plain...

Jul. 12 2011 10:53 AM
bernie from bklyn

i don't think the problem would be solved with a marriage certificate. just a piece of paper...i mean young black men impregnating young black women with reckless abandon and taking zero resposibility for their actions.
and it's not economic. sorry. do you ever hear about poor chinese or poor pakistani kids robbing people on the subway platform or anything else like that? why don't you? because they come from a family situation where the parents or parent will not tolerate that kind of behavior even if they are poor.
i'm puerto rican and your ridiculous racial incarceration assertions are ridiculous. seems that everyone who agrees with dyson on this board are doing the same things he does- changing the subject and not addressing the real questions that need to be answered.

Jul. 12 2011 10:52 AM
black and married in 1850 from upper west side

Brian and Michael -

Please distinguish between 'blacks' and slaves. Michael mentioned earlier that blacks were unable to marry before the Civil War... I'm pretty sure this is not true.

While most blacks may have been slaves before emancipation, I don't think we add any value to our racial dialogue in this country by perpetuating what must be the majority belief that all black people were slaves pre-civil war, and always equating 'black' with slave.

Just as an example, many members of my family (free black people in slave states) were married and their marriages are documented going back to the first census in the late 1700s.

Thanks.

Jul. 12 2011 10:52 AM
Jack Jackson from Central New Jersey

@bernie - out of wedlock DOES NOT EQUAL 'illegitimate', There is no such thing as an illegitimate person. There are people who don't have legal claim to inheritance. If blacks felt that we had more to pass on, there would be more marriages.

Also, re-listen to the WNYC series on the racist use of 'stop and frisk'...How do you explain the percentage of black and latino convictions on drug offenses while white drug use is statistically the same or higher. My explanation is a more likely conviction because there is no money for good lawyers. What's yours?

@gary - That's one factor. Lengthy felony convictions are one way that society controls any subgroup. In this case, money is more important than color, don't you think.

It would be far more interesting for the evangelical types to try walking a mile in the other persons shoes rather than make up rules for living from a mythological history that they clearly do not fully understand.

Jul. 12 2011 10:41 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

CORRECTION: gary alleges that the STATEMENT IN QUESTION included a reference to slavery's "disastrous" effect on the african-american family...

Jul. 12 2011 10:41 AM
Pamela Price-Haynes from Bronx

I am disturb by what was said by Bachman but not surprise. There are many issues happening in the African-American community that needs to be dealt with by them. However, to rewrite history by saying a black child would be raise in a two parent home during slavery is malicious. Did most slaves have a home? Were most slaves allowed to keep their children? Research says no!!!
If there is an issue paricular to some members of society that is detrimental and you speak in the name of God, is there a better way to posits this issue? What kind of people are Bachman and Santorium? They scare me. Furthermore, children raised in a less than traditional setting only indicative to African-Americans or can we see this trend throughout America? Apparently,
America's politics means we'll do anything to get a vote but Bachman and Santorium cannot become president without the black vote. If this is their way, they should save their money and their supporters

Jul. 12 2011 10:40 AM
ericf

there seems to be a tacit assumption underlying much pseudo-conservative and pseudo-libertarian rhetoric that there was once a golden age of american captialism that was undermined by the new deal and all that americans need do to solve todays problems is return to that imaginary golden age. the simple facts that much of american expansion and prosperity depended directly or indirectly from forced appropiration of labor and land is conveniently ignored.

attempts to make slavery seem comparitively benign and consistant with conservative social values rather than being at odds with the most fundamental real conservative and libertarian values seem consistent with this policy of voluntary delusional thinking.

Jul. 12 2011 10:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Gary from Queens,

I too was raised in the housing projects in Brownsville and also never committed a crime. We eventually moved out, and a decade later, Blacks started to move out too, and wherever I have moved, Blacks have moved in right behind me. But the reality is, since the Giuiliani era, and since Blacks went through the "Million Man March" roughly 17 years ago, crime in New York has dropped considerably. I live in a neighborhood that is majority Black, and have not been the victim of assault, mugging or any kind of crime, which is very different from when I was growing up in Brownsville over 50 years where crime and mugging and rioting was an endemic, daily, frightening reality. So, I do not believe that given equal opportunities and treated fairly, that Blacks are more inclined to criminality than are Whites. Too a large extent it is a matter of inequality of fairness and opportunities. Once upon a time, Brownsville was a hotbed of Jewish criminals, e.g. Buggsy Siegel and Murder, Inc.

Jul. 12 2011 10:38 AM
Gevian from Chicago

I don't even know where to begin, but to keep it short and sweet. For those of you who think we're living in a new post-racial world, it's funny, but from where I'm standing, it's looking a whole lot like the old world.

As the child of two parents who came from broken families, but went on to come together and raise 6 children of their own, I find this whole situation vile and disgusting. If anyone has any doubts about the true nature and tenor of the Tea Party and its representatives, then I leave you to your willful ignorance.

As the husband to a Black woman, step-father to a Black son, and father to two Black daughters (one who is over a month old), let someone come to my door and try to take my family away from me...it's going to end badly for them.

Jul. 12 2011 10:37 AM
david


he talked and talked, but didn't really say anything...what a narcissist.

Jul. 12 2011 10:35 AM
Fuva from Harlemworld

Brian, to even posit that the statement in question could be at all legitimate is offensive and indicative of how race ignorant this society is. I'm disappointed in you....If, as gary alleges, slavery had a "disastrous impact on african-american families", then why cite it as some kind of model/ point of reference? Of course, a mother and father and child together on a plantation was a "family-unit" in the most general, superficial sense, given how subjugated and demeaned the parents were IN FRONT OF the children, how they had absolutely no control over their families and lived in constant uncertainty under the threat of separation at the whim of the enslaver. Family life after chained slavery -- during the period of terror and indentured servitude that followed for another hundred years -- was similar. That equals 400+ years of these and other horrific conditions. And yet, the same people who can grasp the "butterfly effect", for instance, can't understand how conditions and ripple effects that had 400+ years to entrench and metastasize could still be with us today. This is COGNITIVE DISSONANCE, at the least...There will be no magic bullet that wipes out the damage done. It will be an iterative process. Get used to it.

Jul. 12 2011 10:34 AM
Shana from Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

Bernie, you do know that rates of marriage are down among all races? In addition, slave families were usually separated as policy! Also, many polls have found that many of the children supposedly being raised only by one parent are in fact being raised in two parent households, but they are not considered two parent households because they have put off or choose not to marry or there is a same-sex relationship. My husband's cousin in Sweden is a father of four and raising his kids with their mother on a dairy farm. They are not married. By your standards those kids are illegitimate.

And really you seriously think all the ills of the black community come down to whether or not people are married when they have kids and not institutionalized racism and the lower quality of education available in many predominatley black communities? It's nice to know, according to you, black people's problems will be solved with a marriage certificate.

Jul. 12 2011 10:33 AM
bernie from bklyn

72% last year, sorry...probably up to 75% now anyway-
http://savannahnow.com/news/2010-11-07/blacks-struggle-72-unwed-mothers#.ThxZfs1O_ew
why does dyson have to bring up completely differnt facts about other things when confronted with a tough question who's only answer is that the black community is broken?

Jul. 12 2011 10:33 AM
gary from queens

AHHH, so it's the racist white society that incarcerates black men that's the cause of black family dependence on government assistance?

But then why are black men committing crimes? mostly upon the members of their own race?

Committing crimes is not a problem. I lived in the projects for 9 years growing up. How come I don't commit crimes? because I'm white??

Jul. 12 2011 10:30 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'd like to draw a connection between this "pledge" & the billboard claiming that the most dangerous place for a black child is now the womb. Both use ostensible concern for black people--badly--to try to sell conservative positions.

Jul. 12 2011 10:29 AM
Carolita from NYC

I'm really surprised nobody notices the implication that African Americans even when in power (ie first black president) can't take care of themselves, that they were better off under the guardianship of whites! It's not concern for children motivating these people, but outright racism, a belief that whites can do things better!

Jul. 12 2011 10:29 AM
gary from queens

Stop the demogoguery against Rick Santorum. His marriage is fine.

I've had to actively research Rick's personal life to learn anything about his faith and family situation, which I found admirable.

Whether you agree or not on abortion, he really walks the walk on the pro life issue. He and his wife opted to have a baby knowing he would be severely handicapped. (They have 7 children.)

Jul. 12 2011 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

While I consider marriage an antiquated and obsolescent relic of the past in its death throes, I also believe that those who choose to enter in this allegedly permanent, or at least long term contractual relationship should take it seriously and be fully committed to fulfilling its terms. Just like any other contract or obligation. Like paying one's debts.

I also agree that the children of divorce in a society that claims to uphold the institution of marriage as central to its makeup, will suffer greatly as a result of it. But once marriage is outlawed, and children are produced and raised either by the state or by corporations, this sense of abandonment will change.

Trying to keep marriage in place by force won't work with rapid development of alternative means of producing and rearing children.

Jul. 12 2011 10:28 AM

As a first generation American, I take offense at Mr Dyson constantly saying "White Americans.." in regard to slavery. Not all White Americans owned slaves and are responsible for slavery. He needs to be more specific otherwise he comes off as a Hate Monger too.

Jul. 12 2011 10:26 AM
ProfPickle from Northeast

History of marriage is fairly complicated -- please note marriage customs in the colonial period were governed by English customs and traditions. Marriage was not exclusively the province of the church and state in that period -- common law marriages were also considered legitimate until the mid-1800's. There was no requirement to marry in front of clergy / state official. When property was involved, it was important to formalize the marriage. Since most people did not own property, traditions developed to mark the marital ceremony. 'Jumping the broomstick' was a rural English custom to mark a marriage.

So, formal marriage also became a class marker, which in time, became an aspiration for the striving middle. Common law marriage became a marker of lower class status. Jude the Obscure does touch on this aspect.

Jul. 12 2011 10:26 AM
BC from Flushing

My God, what a thudding bore this man is. Yes, Dr. Dyson, We Can Hear You Now. But really man your, ahem, Inspiration, Wisdom, and Insight would come through much better if you declaimed less and simply, you know, spoke?

Jul. 12 2011 10:26 AM
Brian from Hoboken

I find this evangelical pledge to be typical evangelical prejudice against gays and blacks (ever been to Iowa? I don't think most Iowans have any urban or African American exposure to make a good opinion).
That being said, why doesnt BL as guest address whether the quote is accurate? Did more black kids born into slavery have a mother and father raising them than a black kid today? BL keeps saying that the quote discusses whether the black child was "better off" bit the quote only addresses the numbers. Is the quote (only about the numbers) accurate?
I am allfor a rigorous debate about a subject (broken black family structures) that needs debate. But you keep glossing over whether the quote is accurate.

Jul. 12 2011 10:25 AM

GOP and Tea Party show no understanding or knowledge of history regarding black history and race relations. What a surprise.

Jul. 12 2011 10:25 AM

What does this say about the people who would vote for a Bachmann type. How could one vote for someone who would seek the favor of these types of groups

Jul. 12 2011 10:25 AM
JT from LI

@bernie
A link please for your "accurate" number.

Jul. 12 2011 10:24 AM
Paul Fess from Manhattan

This issue is an example of how marriage was such a political football for the 19th century slave society. On the one hand, this marriage agreement speaks to the ways in which the so-called institution of marriage was used under the guise of southern paternalism (the argument that African Americans were better off as a result of slavery; the plantation society "improved" them in some way). What isn't being discussed here are the ways that the perversion of marriage and the break down of slave families caused by slavery itself were used by the abolitionist cause.

Jul. 12 2011 10:23 AM
gary from queens

I'm sure the issue of the denial of gays to the name "marriage" will come up.

The Bible favors heterosexual relations. It doesn't favor racial classes over others.

Since marriage is blessed by religion, and began as a religious institution, then it makes sense for religious people not to be associated with a sexual behavior proscribed in the Bible.

Doesn't that make sense? Why can't federal law make "domestic partnerships" equivolent to marriage?

Jul. 12 2011 10:22 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

The bigger issue is the class divide. That's where we're all going--the haves and have nots.

Jul. 12 2011 10:22 AM
bernie from bklyn

@sophie- ok, do you think the black community is raising productive citizens?
and jeez, this guys is such an idiot, he really is... racist incarceration? are you kidding me?

Jul. 12 2011 10:21 AM

Its obvious this is thinly veiled hate mongering. If America was founded on freedom, what right do these people have in pushing their own personal agenda? I thought republicans and the tea party-ists were against government intervention in THEIR lives. Oh what, they are. they arent against government intervention in OUR lives.

Jul. 12 2011 10:21 AM
Steve King from Manhattan

It's interesting that the reference for the comment on Black families is from 2005. I don't recall Obama being president then but of course I don't have Michele Bachmann's knowledge of American history.

Jul. 12 2011 10:21 AM
Marcio from Brooklyn

For a historical comparative, your guest should look into to slave relations in Brazil where slave marriage was not only allowed but promoted by planters and the Church alike. The logic there is that marriage would "pacify" and "civilize" salves.

Jul. 12 2011 10:21 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

On yet another historical note:

The Romans prohibited homosexuals from inheriting property. They also were trying to encourage heterosexual marriage. Read your Gibbon.

Jul. 12 2011 10:21 AM
Marcio from Brooklyn

For a historical comparative, your guest should look into to slave relations in Brazil where slave marriage was not only allowed but promoted by planters and the Church alike. The logic there is that marriage would "pacify" and "civilize" salves.

Jul. 12 2011 10:20 AM
STEPHEN H GRANT from Thiells NY

What can we expect of people whose sole reference point on slavery and the Civil War is Gone With The Wind? Historical accuracy is not evangelical Christians' strong point.

Jul. 12 2011 10:19 AM
Sophie from Poughkeepsie, NY

Sorry, human life is not illegitimate and therefore there are no illegitimate children in my opinion.

Anyway, we all know the definition of marriage is changing and thank goodness for that. What is more important is to support families (however they are created) to raise productive citizens.

Jul. 12 2011 10:18 AM
gary from queens

"There's a lot of other stuff to talk about" Mr. Dyson??

Like perhaps dependency on the welfare state supplanting the black male bread winner?

Or do you just want to harp on one rhetorical comment that was historically incorrect?

Jul. 12 2011 10:18 AM
david from ditmas park


the promise or lure of material goods that denote success among black males as evidenced in hip hop culture has undermined a generation, almost two generations, of familial responsibilities. the gold, the cars, the bitches, the power...very potent stuff for a young man to contend with in a low income neighborhood...

Jul. 12 2011 10:16 AM
gary from queens

BL Producer:

You have just joined in Mr. Dyson's routine race baiting. You neglected to include the prefacing clause, "Slavery had a disasterous impact on African American families."

Try to be honest and at least ask your guest if he agrees with the remainder of the document?

Jul. 12 2011 10:09 AM
bernie from bklyn

as much as i despise those two people, what they are saying is correct. it's sad but true.
75% of all black kids are illegitimate! can you believe that? it's hard to believe but accurate. 75%!!
the cycle of kids having kids in the black community has to end. you can't blame these kids for acting like morons on the street when they're born into a horrible situation with no chance but to act that way because no one is telling them anything different.
mr.dyson needs to stop acting like the self-righteous poetry slammer that he is and start worrying about the failings of his community and how they can be fixed without blaming the white man for everything.

Jul. 12 2011 09:47 AM

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