As Seen On CNN’s “Black In America”

Top: Photo from marriage ceremony arranged by Marry Your Baby Daddy. Bottom: I wonder if “Marry Your Baby Daddy Day” will include the nuptials of VP candidate daughter Bristol Palin, 17, and her boyfriend Levi Johnston? No, you say?

Remember when CNN did “Black In America” and everyone was like, “Man, that blew chunks” and everyone specifically complained about the feature on black women and this “marry your baby daddy program?”

Well, they’re still going strong to hitch unwed black mothers to their recalcitrant boyfriends.

Reports show that the growing number of out-of-wedlock births and an increase in unmarried households have forced a new dialog about relationships in America according to Marry Your Baby Daddy Day™ founder and St. Martins Press author Maryann Reid.

She and her team are already planning for Marry Your Baby Daddy Day™ 2009, a mass wedding of 10 unwed couples w/children to strengthen 2 parent homes and stabilize communities. Applications are being accepted early to announce the 10 selected NYC area couples on Valentine’s Day 2009. On September 24, 2009, 10 couples will get married in NYC, but others across the nation won’t be left out.

“We are gathering licensed MYBDD™ partners in different cities in order to hold a simultaneous wedding on the same day,” Reid says. “It’s as important for us to help a couple in Sacramento as it is to marry ten in New York City. We have a growing national database of moms and dads who want to marry each other that we share with a licensed MYBDD™ partner in their area.”

The press release (which popped up in my inbox) goes on to say the program has married 40 “baby mamas and daddies.”

I don’t know how to feel about all this. On one hand, I’m a big fan of marriage. On the other, there is just something unseemly about the term “baby mama” or “baby daddy.” Maybe I simply wish there were more family planning/sex education programs available for young black boys and girls so they can learn to avoid these pratfalls. I wish there was more focus on after school programs, mentorship and scholarship. I know wanting to go to college and have a career kept me from getting prematurely knocked up.

Is it just me? Maybe this is a really meaningful gesture, but I feel like it’s a band-aid on a gaping wound. It is the embrace of ignorance — encouraged by everyone and everything from black popular culture to some churches — is endemic throughout black culture and is the No. 1 culprit to all asshat behavior of black people.

Just as it was at the end of slavery it remains true today. Education has and will always be the key.

So marriage is great, but if you don’t have the educational tools to earn a decent wage, support a family and the maturity to deal what did this program really create?

The creator of the event Reid ends her press release with this answer to critics:

(Reid) is often questioned about whether it’s right for these couples to marry because they have children together.

“Are they not supposed to get married? That’s what I want to know,” Reid says, as she stresses that many of the couples have been together at least 5 years. “We don’t have to sell anything, our couples come to us. It shows we are making a difference and impacting lives in wholesome and relevant ways.”

Blogger AverageBro wrote about what he saw as the more positive aspects of this program when it was mentioned on “Black In America” back in July.

16 thoughts on “As Seen On CNN’s “Black In America”

  1. I think this is a stupid program. Why do you need this to get married? To me it is simple, you love each other and you want to be together, and you want to make it legal with marriage. Or you just live together and raise your children in a loving environment. This is a common occurance in Denmark. They live together and raise their children. To me this is a waste of time and effort.

  2. romona: After reading through Reid’s site it did seem a little unseemly to “counsel” couples who weren’t thinking marriage to do it.I just think education is more important because people can make better informed decisions. But I don’t see how coercing couples to marry solves the problem of unwed pregnancies in the black community. Marriage isn’t some magical panacea. Other things have to happen.

  3. “Maybe I simply wish there were more family planning/sex education programs available for young black boys and girls so they can learn to avoid these pratfalls. I wish there was more focus on after school programs, mentorship and scholarship.”Nail. Head.

  4. This program is completely distasteful. I absolutely cannot STAND the phrase “baby daddy/mama”. It’s sanctioned retard-speak (excusez-moi)! This program is an insult to any thinking person – invest in sex ed and pregnancy prevention, not marriage after the fact! Ridiculous.

  5. I agree with the Snob, this program seems like capitulation to me, as if we just accept that having babies out-of-wedlock is the new norm and that marriage is an afterthought. I won’t get on the whole “our morals are declining / what happened to those good ol’ family values?” rant, but the energy would be better directed toward making sure that baby carriage doesn’t come before the love and marriage. Nonetheless, this program is better than the alternative.

  6. Trying to make lemonade out of lemons. I’ve waited so long for the ‘right’ situation I need a time machine to go back and change things. Which reminds me – Terminator was so great last night! Prison Break has jumped the shark. Wenty’s appeal alone is not gonna save this show.

  7. “Maybe I simply wish there were more family planning/sex education programs available for young black boys and girls so they can learn to avoid these pratfalls. I wish there was more focus on after school programs, mentorship and scholarship.”Yes, the concept of loving adult parents with children (AKA family) is breaking down. There is no family to teach these things anymore. Maybe the government can step in and fix our problems!Yikes, I don’t like either solution.

  8. sigh….i just detest the term baby daddy. it mostly is a term that myself and friends use when we are joking, and its been taken mainstream, not only by this but remember that movie a few years ago with the cat from the sopranos and anthony anderson? the cycle continues

  9. If this is to be more than a bandage on a gun shot – the ‘couples’ need life skills counseling on how to be parents, raise a family i.e. all those things that were not learned and resulted in the current situation. Without that education and the tools to succeed they are only going to be set up for failure. Marriage w/out the skills to do what needs to be done is just a piece of paper. The money would be better spent educating children to avoid these situations and providing opportunities to excel as – scholarships, and other education and training. The remaining funds need to be spent on educating adults who did not learn it the first time around 🙂 Give a man fish he eats for that day – teach him to fish he lives for a life time.SMH

  10. E. DuBois said… I absolutely cannot STAND the phrase “baby daddy/mama”.________________________Same here. It makes me cringe. Not really sure what to think of the program, but the title alone makes my lips curl in annoyance.________________________”Maybe I simply wish there were more family planning/sex education programs available for young black boys and girls so they can learn to avoid these pratfalls. I wish there was more focus on after school programs, mentorship and scholarship.”Agreed. Comprehensive sex ed programs would be best along with the other things you mentioned.

  11. As another poster to quote this section…”Maybe I simply wish there were more family planning/sex education programs available for young black boys and girls so they can learn to avoid these pratfalls. I wish there was more focus on after school programs, mentorship and scholarship.”…I have a different take on this since like Denmark, living common law in Quebec, Canada is quite common. The “take” is who the heck says that family planning didn’t play a part in the creation of a common law family? Why the focus on teenagers and low incomes? How many of the children in these families suffer the fate of “bad parenting?”In a common law relationship myself, none of the above apply to our family situation, where two children (uhhh, both from the same father in case there was an overarching sense of worry), enjoy a middle class lifestyle and parents who love them dearly since they tried so hard to bring them into the world. While I’ve not seen the show or the infamous CNN series (not much of a TV watcher), there’s a disturbing amount of what seems to be presumption in the comments and the general concept.

  12. natasha: Couples who choose to remain unmarried but raise families isn’t the issue that is trying to be addressed by this program.The black American community has a disproportionate rate of children born out of wedlock and are raised by a single parent, often with a low wage job and no health care. So the “marriage solution” is seen as a way to fix the high rate of poverty and social ills that come from children raised without fathers.For fathers who are active in their children’s lives and love their partners this isn’t an issue. But more often than not there is a serious issue of social problems tied to black men who are unmarried (like they tend to die of gunshot fire or end up in the prison system) or the high number of black women who believe they have few to no chances at finding a stable partner and make some questionable decisions for themselves in mates.Some of this is perception and some of it is reality, but the solution of marriage is a cover for the larger issue of poor, single unwed mothers and men who feel they have no real options for a future.And that’s what this is about, not imposing social mores on people who don’t want to get married, but trying to figure out how the marriage rates for blacks, which used to be equal to whites in this country, fell so dramatically over the last 30 years and how our communities fell into disarray as well.

  13. Does anyone think that too many young black boys (and girls) have a very wrong idea of what “black culture” might be? So much so, that single-mom-with-multiple-kids is becoming acceptable (God forbid) “black” culture?”..the high number of black women who believe they have few to no chances at finding a stable partner…”Ouch, I have never thought about it in this way. That is so sad on many levels.

  14. joe shmoe: There is a sort of “man panic” going on with black women. I might write about it in the future. Statistically as a college educated black woman there’s supposed to be a high chance that I will remain unmarried (a la Condi Rice).I was married once (and that crashed n’ burned). Neither of my sisters are married. One has a boyfriend. But it’s easy to work yourself into a panic as a black woman if you look at the statistics. And I don’t know how many times I’ve read black magazines suggesting that professional black women “marry down” because of the “man panic.” There are entire blogs dedicated to it, imploring that black women date outside their race to increase their chances of getting married.It’s really fascinating … and depressing and insane.

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