Dear Ferguson Protestor,

You have suffered a grave, systemic, institutionalized injustice.

But it’s not what you think it is.

It’s not The Man and it’s not racism. I do not deny the existence of racism but the color of your skin is not at the heart of this matter. The problem is more powerful and profoundly wounding to your souls.

You are suffering the outcome of the disappearance of committed fathers in your community.   Seven out of ten, SEVENTY PERCENT, of you didn’t have a dad throwing the football around in the back yard with you or helping with your homework.  You never had the firm heart of discipline, which can only come from a father, when you clocked your brother for taking your toy. Examples of grown men taking responsibility for themselves and their families were rare for you. You were never shown how to be strong, not violent, when facing the inevitable struggles in this life.

I am heartsick and profoundly sad for your loss because you deserved, and you needed, so much better.

So, understandably, you are pissed.  There is a thriving, deep-seated rage inside of you that can get out of control. I might not know you personally, but I have met you, just with a different name and face. I have counseled and comforted children who were discarded by their fathers.  I struggle to put into words the depth of longing, the subconscious rejection that kids internalize when they are abandoned by the man who is supposed to love them most.

You are angry about inequality. But government is not responsible for your poor living conditions- the breakdown of the family is.  On average, the annual income for married household with children is $70,000.  For single-parent households it’s less than half that. On average it’s an impoverished, government subsidized, $30,000. By my calculations the government’s provision is woefully inadequate when compared to a father’s presence and role fulfillment in the family.

You cry out for justice. But it’s not the police who are responsible for the disproportionately high population of blacks in prison.  It’s that children who grow up without fathers are more likely to commit violent crime. Fathers teach children different lessons than mothers do and fathers do a better job of teaching children to police themselves. They just do. So, when that father fails or is flat-out absent, the first time a young man learns about boundaries might be when it involves actual police and serious, life-altering consequences.

See, when you were born, your mom was right there and she knew that you were something precious.  But chances are, your father was absent because they were unmarried. Marriage is the glue that attaches fathers to their children.  And the black community, more than any other population in this country, has been disproportionally hit by our crumbling marriage culture. The cultural elites are more able to ride out the waves of family breakdown. That tends not to be the case for your average working family.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s generation was denied opportunities in employment and education and the legal system because of their race. However, Dr. King’s generation was blessed to come from mostly in-tact homes.  Strong and proud black mothers and fathers raised their children together.  Now fifty years later, those macro-systems of educational and governmental injustice have been rectified and you have all the freedoms that Dr. King dreamed you would have.

It’s not enough though, is it?

Because the most important of all institutions has been denied you- the institution of marriage. That which provides you with stability, nurture, discipline, and the involvement of your mother and father from birth to adulthood. You have been barred from participating in that micro-system which is critical to child development: the nuclear family. Without it a child of any race will struggle to make sense of the world.

Desperate to blame someone?  Don’t blame “the system.”

  • Blame your father who should have loved you and your mother enough to stick around.
  • Blame those who teach and promote sex-without-consequences.
  • Blame the sexual revolution which divorced commitment from sex.
  • Blame any form of feminism that suggests men are unnecessary or disposable.

I am not a marriage advocate because I pine for the good old days.  I’m a marriage advocate because you, YOU, Ferguson protestor, deserved better.  Every kid deserves more than an exhausted mom struggling to do a two-person job alone.  I am a marriage advocate because I HATE that black men are over represented in the prison population. I am a marriage advocate because I don’t want you living in poverty.  I am a marriage advocate because I want you to succeed in life. I am a marriage advocate because I want our communities, no matter their physical appearance, to thrive. Marriage- fathers and mother raising their children together- is our best chance at making that happen.

Dear Ferguson Protestor.

Perhaps you have continued the cycle and fathered children out of wedlock. Instead of destroying things, consider the lives you are destroying by being absent.

Go home.

You have the ability to repair the most broken institution of them all.


28 thoughts on “Dear Ferguson Protestor,

  1. This discussion must be had- and I don’t know what the conclusion will be, but I’m glad to see someone was brave enough to (finally) start it. We need to examine what’s going on and look for viable solutions. That 70% statistic is rather frightening. Obviously, something is going wrong and having dire consequences.

    • I don’t know what the conclusion will be either. But these young men are starving. When I hear radio commentators or read blogs about the challenges in the black community I rarely hear anyone address the breakdown of the family. Not the politically correct response, of course. But it is the greatest underlying issue and the very one that every member of the black community can do something about.

  2. I am surprised the comments are slow in submission here, touchy topic no doubt. I think you have nailed a massive contributing factor to what is now going national in protest. Excellent piece.

  3. What part of “Michael Brown had a father” has been lost on you?? As someone with a master’s degree in sociology and a master’s in criminology, I would like to request that you seriously sit down and read and do some research about the root causes of criminality and about race and the criminal justice system. I suggest that you begin by reading The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Your post seems to have much to do with your desire to promote your right wing ideology and, unfortunately, the post has little do with any real understanding or listening on your part with regard to what the lives of African Americans are like.

    I am a white, heterosexual, Catholic woman. Nonetheless, you make my blood boil time and time again with your posts. Typically, I don’t comment. However, on behalf of African American friends of mine, I cannot just sit here silently while a very sanctimonious individual such as yourself goes on and on about things that she knows very little about. With regard to African American family life, many African Americans have grown up with moms who – unlike you – did not have luxury of spending their time in a privileged little world of sitting around all day drinking lattes at Starbucks. I suggest that you step out of your privileged world and LISTEN and learn from African Americans. I am outraged that someone like you thinks that what African Americans need is a lecture from YOU. Please get over yourself.

    • Hi Christine. Thanks for reading and commenting. I suppose it’s possible for someone in Seattle to live in a racial bubble, but thankfully that is not my story. My life is filled with friends from many countries- some of whom are first-generation Americans (some who are not yet Americans.) My children’s closest friends who live across the street have a black father, and next door to them another mixed race couple. On the other side of us is a Hispanic family. My daughter’s school has a racial make-up where whites are the minority and I’m very grateful for the multi-national experience she’s receiving. In fact, there are so many different people in our lives with so many different hues that when our seven-year-old overheard us talking about the situation in Ferguson, he asked us “Are we white or black?” So much diversity, that he didn’t know where we “fit.” Our immediate family is bi-racial with thanks to our adopted son.

      Yes, the last thing that African Americans need is a lecture from me. The first thing that they need is their mother and father living together and raising them together. I don’t know everything, you are right. But I have sat with some of those African American children (and other races as well) as they have processed (in the form of rage, insecurity, grief and depression) and tried to find their value and worth without their father’s involvement. No small, or brief, task. So if that doesn’t qualify, how might I come by that “real understanding or listening” that you speak of?

      I don’t know much about Micheal Browns family of origin but I know that his parents are not together. Never married? Divorced? I don’t know- haven’t spent the time to scrutinize because it’s not about one person. My post is addressing the waves of angry young men who are choosing to loot and destroy their very own community in an effort to remedy, in their mind, an injustice. I am not saying that every problem is going to be solved if every child is born into and raised in an intact home. But statistically speaking, this is the way to take the biggest bite out of all these struggles that our black brothers and sisters are facing. Any “solution” or way forward that doesn’t address family breakdown in the black community will simply be putting a temporary band-aid over a gaping wound.

      And here’s a couple black men sharing their thoughts on whether or not looming structures of racial injustice is at the heart of the struggles of the black community.

    • Interesting response; but as a wealthy, atheist, gay, European man- I don’t quite understand where you’re going. Do you you mean we shouldn’t ask questions? At all? Statistics are mathematics. Do you mean we should disregard the numbers?
      Proper science (forget left and right) means we have to look at everything from the cold light of day. Are you genuinely prepared to disregard cultural factors that may be hindering the Afro-American population? Or, should we look at them?

  4. Funny, I never noticed mention of Michael Brown in your post. I believe when you addressed your post to “Dear Ferguson Protestor,” that should have been obvious but what do I know? Perhaps Christine read a different version?

    You did quite clearly fail to check your white privilege and the outrageous way you bandy about your “right wing ideology” should make it obvious to any thinking person that you’re probably too dumb to drive and chew gum at the same time.

    As to the “Michael Brown had a father” assertion, I’d sure like that one cleared up. Some online resources call Michael Brown Sr. his “step-father.” Others characterize him as “father.” Same goes for Lesley McSpadden — she’s called both “step-mother” and “mother.” According to the NYT, the junior Brown lived with his mother, sometimes with an uncle, sometimes with a grandmother. In other words, he wandered from pillar to post, hardly a stable situation.

    Of course, in the foregoing reply, I jest. Notwithstanding Christine’s comment, I appreciated your post and understand the heart behind it. Keep it up and God bless!

    • Christine did you really recommend a book written by a racist and a bigot as a reference? That is fantastic.

  5. Christine: Take off the righteous indignation glasses and you will realize that you are making assumptions that are simply not true. In your zeal to dismiss AskMe’s words, you have revealed yourself to be the one who is ignorant of the facts, the one who is hating based on assumptions. Take off the boxing gloves and realize that you and AskMe are not opponents. Calm down and dialogue. Lashing out in anger is what causes problems; not what solves them.

  6. Do you have an email address that I can email you privately? I have a picture (that I found on facebook) that addresses exactly what you are blogging about on this post. As a busy mother of 3 girls, I don’t have a ton of time to research it… But thought you’d be interested in giving it a look. It explains the dynamic of the “family” that Michael Brown grew up in. You’re SPOT ON, if it is indeed true.

    • Of course. And I saw a couple posts about how be bounced around between grandparents and aunts. I also saw a post about how his Father’s church was burned down. 😦 Sounds like his dad was heading in the right direction, but that Michael spend much time with him.

  7. This post is pretty spot on. People often think protest is righteous and a God-given right. But gathering in big groups with strangers to yell and get angry almost never turns out well.

    Dear Ferguson protestor, time to have patient, open discussions with people who see the world differently from you.

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