Time To Stop Lactating

Drive through any poor African-American neighborhood or stroll through any prison, and you will be astonished by the legions of African-American men milling about – doing nothing and planning little else. If you take the time to look closely you will see that these men don’t look particularly unhappy. They laugh, they joke, they hoop, and they hang out. They play dominoes, they smoke, they drink, and they kibbitz. Despite no visible means of financial support, somehow they survive.

They survive because their Mommas take care of them. They survive because their girlfriends and their wives take care of them. They survive because even their sisters, their grandmothers, and their aunties take care of them. For the more unscrupulous of these parasites, petty criminality provides them basic sustenance. Living the street life and staying “true to the game” provides them with peers of similar circumstance and outlook. And, once their female resources are exhausted, incarceration provides them shelter from the slings and arrows of their critics.

Codependency in the Black Community

hard on a black man

These black men are, in fact, freeloading. They are bums; parasites in the true sense of the word. Their mothers, their girlfriends, their wives, their sisters, their Big Mommas, their grandmothers, and their aunties make it easy for “L’il Boo” to survive and to not stand up as a man.

He says he’ll get a job, but how long has it been? Weeks? Months? Years? Why can’t he seem to see the same Help Wanted signs that everyone else seems to see? Why can’t he become motivated to rise every workday and put in a shift of work?

Aren’t you tired yet of your resources being sucked up, while he’s supposedly “getting on his feet”? Aren’t you tired yet of having to take care of an adult person; a grown man? If you are tired, then it’s time to stop lactating. Stop taking care of grown men. It only enables them to not face their adulthood and take care of their responsibilities. Moreover, it provides the wrong model for your children — female and male — to follow.

I know. We’ve heard it all before.

“It’s hard on a black man out there.”

“He’ll get on his feet soon.”

“He’s going to look for work next week.”

“They’re prejudiced down at that factory.”

ManMan or PunkPunk?

All these excuses, while milk is spilling all over the place. You might find yourself pleasantly surprised by just how motivated these men become once the enabling stops. If nothing else, you’ll have more resources left over for any real children who actually need your support.

Until he becomes familiar with the words accountability and responsibility, the young boy who many of us referred to as ManMan as a child might be more appropriately titled PunkPunk or SuckerSucker as an adult.

Or perhaps, just perhaps, we should re-examine what our definitions are for being considered an adult African-American male.


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Dr. James Davison, Jr. is an African-American licensed psychologist and university professor. He conducts a private practice in Seattle, Washington, and has appeared on several nationally-aired programs including The Phil Donahue Show, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and C-SPAN. Dr. Davison hails from Philadelphia, and is the author of several books - Prisoners Of Our Past and Sweet Release - related to individuality and personal freedom for African-Americans.