Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The N.Y.C Anti-Teen Pregnancy Campaign

If those of us who are African-American are honest with ourselves, we must admit that there are times when we don't pick our battles wisely. There are a myriad of issues that deserve discussion, planning, and solutions that are executed. In other words there are many battles that are worth fighting. Things like unemployment, gun violence, and poverty are all things that we should be ever diligent in combatting, and then there are things like, African-Americans having the right to drink a Big Gulp, or how many African-American shows are on T.V. (As if children don't watch enough T.V. as it is), that seem trivial in comparison. Fighting for these things are a waste of time because they are not pertinent, or particularly important. They are what I call "fruitless fights" because they don't yield anything that is really substantial.
The latest "fruitless fight" comes in the form of a controversial ad campaign in New York City spear-headed by Mayor Bloomberg. The ads are aimed at Black teens, and discourage teen pregnancy.

The advertisements, which will run on subways, buses, and social media platforms, feature a multiracial cast of babies in various states of distress accompanied by text that explains how hard their lives will be because of their parents' ages. One image of a dark skinned little girl includes the message, "Honestly mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" Another features a crying toddler with curly blond hair telling the world, "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."

Jamilah King, wrote a piece for Colorlines magazine issuing a strong admonishment to Mayor Bloomberg stating the the ad campaign is aimed at shaming teen Moms of color. She also said that , "A 27 percent drop in teen pregnancy rates over the past decade apparently isn't good enough for politicians in New York City".

I am amazed the anybody could fine fault with an ad aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. Have our expectations for African-American teens gotten so low that a 27% drop in teen pregnancy over the past ten years is looked at as a sign of victory, and a step toward eradicating the problem? If so, what does that say about us as a people. It almost seems as if the bar for standards is being treated like a limbo bar, with the objective of seeing how low someone can go without hitting the bottom. If we received 27% of a pay check. that would be s crisis. If we returned home to find 27% of our homes gone, that would be a crisis. But a mere 27% drop in teen pregnancy is an improvement?! It is sad that teen pregnancy has become so acceptable to some people that there is actually an emphasis, or concern about Black teen Moms being ashamed. Shame is the least of their problems, and the facts should not be hidden, sanitized, or swept under the rug in the name or political correctness, and sensitivity. Hello! NEWS FLASH! Teenagers are not supposed to get pregnant no matter what color they are.
REALITY CHECK! 75% of all Black households are single parent households. So like the ad says,
"Honestly mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?"
Although it is a sad reality, it is reality none the less. But I guess some people feel that these facts should be ignored in the name of sparing feelings. The bottom line is that the children born of teenage children are at a disadvantage, as opposed to those who have adult parents or a two good parents in their homes. It is what it is.
We have always complained about issues that disproportionately affect our communities being addressed by the media, but when they are, some of us complain about how. Those who are offended should ask themselves if they are willing to adopt the children of teenage girls in the event that they cannot adequately take care of them. If not, would they mind donating a portion of their resources to help these teenage mothers in need? Are they willing to have a real conversation about the the incarceration rate of African-Americans? Many of whom happen to be the offspring of teenage mothers? These are the questions that should be answered before there is an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to any effort to curb the problem. Those who view these ads as a racial issue fail to realize that the show "Teen Mom" on MTV is an anti teen pregnancy ad in and of itself, and the majority of the teens on the show are white.
There are many problems in the African- American community that need and deserve attention. But the shame of pregnant teenage girls is not one of them. Preventing teen pregnancy in the first place should be the main concern.


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