Double Duty: The Black Woman's Struggle Raising Boys Alone

By Deric Muhammad -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Oct 26, 2009 - 2:26:06 PM

What's your opinion on this article?

Graphic: MGN Online
‘It is only a matter of time before Hallmark designs and manufactures Father's Day cards for Black women. They would fly off of the shelves in the Black community and it would be difficult for us as a community to protest given the fact that we have helped create the market for it.’
The nation's attention has been captured by the cell phone video of 16-year-old honor student Derrion Albert being beaten to death.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Rev. Jesse Jackson and I believe God Himself is issuing a call to action to all of us to stand against the destructive “deathstyle” that left young Derrion “gone too soon.”

We must unite and stand against youth violence with all the strength that we can muster. As I watched in horror, I saw the high level of brute force used by those who took our brother's life. I then said to myself that we must meet this brute force of ignorance with an equal or greater force of truth, love, and sincere activism.

As I reviewed the video again, I wondered how many of those involved in the melee were being raised by single mothers? If national statistics are used, probably 7 out of 10 of them are being raised without a father in the home. Their absence has a direct effect on the way young Black males relate to one another.

It is only a matter of time before Hallmark designs and manufactures Father's Day cards for Black women. They would fly off of the shelves in the Black community and it would be difficult for us as a community to protest given the fact that we have helped create the market for it.

God, in His infinite wisdom, has set up a system for the family structure. He gives every child a mother and a father. Both parents are by nature made to fulfill their roles so that the child receives what he or she needs to grow into their full potential according to the plan of an infinitely wise God. So the presence of a father in the life of a child is not only a human need, it is a human right.

The Black nation is hemorrhaging from within because so many Black boys have been denied this human right. There is a deep, scathing, internally scarring pain on the inside of us as Black men, because we have felt the sting of apparent rejection from our fathers. Every young Black male who feels “dissed” by his biological father sees himself as a victim of injustice. He is hurt. He is bitter.

Injustice, according to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, could very well create an imbalance in the mind and careen out of control into savage behavior like that that killed Derrion Albert. The young Black male is “Fatherless and Furious.” If we intend to stop the violence in our communities, we must be ready to address the pathology of the problem and how it turns into the disease of self-hatred.

While it takes two to make a baby boy, it seems like the Black woman has been left with the burden of being the king maker. Black men are showing up in the bedroom, but not showing up in the delivery room. Too often, this drama is played out in some courtroom. It is because the lessons about life that fathers are supposed to teach their sons are being taught by and misinterpreted by the streets, television, rap stars, etc.

It is in the woman's nature to be a loving nurturer of her son. She is given by God a feminine quality that serves as a source of support for her son who is growing into a young man. But too often mother has to step outside of herself (her nature) to play the role of father. It is a role that she is not naturally made to play, but has no choice. This is mentally, spiritually, physically, financially and even clinically an unfair burden to her and we as men must do a better job of helping her. The stress of being both mother and father to the Black male has probably taken an incalculable toll on the health of Black women in this nation.

Raising Black boys in a world like this is difficult for two parents. But, when a woman has to do it alone it's like playing a doubles match of tennis against Venus and Serena Williams all by yourself with no partner. Impossible, you say? Well, The Honorable Elijah Muhammad taught us that God destroyed the concept of “impossible” a very long time ago. There is no such thing as impossible.

If you are a single female who is shouldering the solo responsibility of raising a son, take solace in knowing there have been many great men who were raised by their mothers alone. We should study the mothers of great men like Minister Farrakhan who grew up without a father in the home as well. What did Mother Farrakhan do that helped to make her son the man that God has made, and is still making today?

Many other brilliant and successful Black men, such as Barack Obama, Rev. Jackson and others grew up void of a father and became great helpers in the cause of our people. The point that I am making is if the mothers of these great men can produce servants of God's people then so can you.

I would also like to point to the example of Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a single Black woman who raised a son. Some will argue that Mary was NOT a single mother, because God was the father of Jesus and God was with Mary. I say, fine. But, guess what? As a single mom, God is with you, too, sister. And if God is with you, even Venus and Serena couldn't beat you in a doubles match (smile).

Mary looked like she was by herself, but she wasn't. Every single mother must take the attitude that she may look like she is by herself, but she is not. With God's help we can steer our young boys in a better direction, stop the bleeding in our community and start the building of our community. But the Black woman should not have to do this by herself; we as Black men must take some responsibility for the misdirected anger that kills young brothers like Derrion and subsequently accept our God-given duty of raising our babies; especially Black boys.

(Deric Muhammad is a Houston-based community activist who will host the premier of his documentary “Raising Boys; Tips for Single Moms” at Houston's Angelika Theater on November 5th. He blogs at