Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Does it really take a village?

In the context of waiting for the release of President Obama's budget today, I've been talking about children a lot lately. But I'm not the only one.

Apparently Melissa Harris-Perry got the lunatics going with this MSNBC ad.

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For folks like Rush Limbaugh, this is Marxism personified. But it gave Melissa a chance to respond and knock it out of the park.
I believe wholeheartedly, and without apology, that we have a collective responsibility to the children of our communities even if we did not conceive and bear them. Of course, parents can and should raise their children with their own values. But they should be able to do so in a community that provides safe places to play, quality food to eat, terrific schools to attend, and economic opportunities to support them. No individual household can do that alone. We have to build that world together.

So those of you who were alarmed by the ad can relax. I have no designs on taking your children. Please keep your kids! But I understand the fear.

We do live in a nation where slaveholders took the infants from the arms of my foremothers and sold them for their own profit. We do live in a nation where the government snatched American Indian children from their families and “re-educated” them by forbidding them to speak their language and practice their traditions.

But that is not what I was talking about, and you know it.
All I've got left to say is "bada-fucking-bing!"

Its interesting that in the context of all that - First Lady Michelle Obama will travel to Chicago today to speak to a group of business executives about their responsibility to invest in protecting our children from violence.
According to the White House, Mrs. Obama will speak at a "Joint Luncheon Meeting: Working Together to Address Youth Violence in Chicago," hosted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which will include members of Chicago's leading civic organizations: the Commercial Club, the Economic Club, the Executives' Club, and World Business Chicago.

"Mrs. Obama will be urging Chicago's business leaders to invest in expanded opportunities for youth across Chicago's neighborhoods."...

"Chicago's businesses are partnering with social service professionals and community groups to make our neighborhoods safer for innocent children," said Wilson. "The current level of violence has been decades in the making and is unacceptable. It's time to fix this the Chicago way, working together."

Specifically, the business community challenge will support mentoring, intervention and conflict resolution programs, provide seed funding for new programs, and work to rebuild community supports in neighborhoods most impacted by violence.
Sounds like this group of Chicago business leaders doesn't buy Rush Limbaugh's lunacy and are stepping up to take responsibility for the children of their city.

From what I'm reading, the speech planned today by Michelle Obama will come from her heart and we all know from the past that she can profoundly touch ours when she does so. Stay tuned for this one!  


  1. I shouldn't be so hard on Rush. He could have a yet to be discovered scumbag gene. That means he can't help himself. And I take it that his listeners get weekly lobotomies. There's no way someone should have a problem with what Dr Harris-Perry said. Her commercial was innocuous. At this point we know they're upset about that soon to be gone in group status.


  2. I had the good fortune to live in Senegal for 9 months, and I saw there what it looks like when the community takes responsibility for its children. In general, Senegal is, or was when I was there, much safer than the US. There's crime, but very little violent crime. But what struck us was that everybody watched the children who were around them. In the neighborhood, children would just run around. In the US, we'd say they were "unsupervised," because their parents weren't actually gazing at them. But in reality, everyone was watching them, as if they were their own. On the bus, a woman with a baby would hand her child to a stranger as she prepared to sit down. The idea that someone would harm any of these children wasn't part of the picture. Nobody worried that some stranger would abscond with the child.

    I took from this a strong sense that the way we raise our kids in this country, in isolated nuclear families, means that to a very large extent we don't raise our kids. The job is too much for the parents themselves. But truly, we think, and our legal system confirms it, that children not biologically our own are not our responsibility, and not even our interest.

    I look back on my own childhood and I know that I overwhelmed my parents' ability to parent sometimes, and it hurt me as I grew up. I needed a community and I didn't have one.

    So, when I read about people going on about "collectivist" this and that, I remember Senegal and how, whatever problems there were there, children were actually raised.

  3. I grew up in small towns with an extended family. Who was sitting at the dinner table on any given night - or which table I was sitting at - varied considerably. I don't ever recall thinking that it was unusual that various people in the town would be looking out for me, or that my parents wouldn't be aware of any misbehavior. I might hope that no one would tell my parents, but I wasn't counting on it. Along with that was the idea that "big kids are supposed to look out for the little kids." From friends who grew up in cities, they had similar experiences, just on the neighborhood level.

    So the idea of "it takes a village" is not a new one, it used to be a common assumption. It's a shame that the right wing, which so often thinks of "the good old days" doesn't seem to grasp that concept at all.