I know my father. I knew my father's father. I know the name of his father as well although he died in 1918, long before I was born. I have confidence that my resemblance to all of those men is more than genetic. I inherit their character and demeanor, and I have been well served by this.
The other day, reading in The Confusion, I came across a passage that immediately made me think of contemporary black American society.
“These Malabar women are as free with men, as Charles II himself was with women,” Jack explained. “In these parts, a man can never tell which children are his. Or to put it another way, every man knows his mother but hasn’t the faintest idea who his father might be. Consequently, all property passes down the female line.”
“Including the crown?”
“Including the crown. One peculiarity of this arrangement is that a man, going in to pay a call on a lady, never knows what other man he might discover in her bed. To prevent awkward situations, a gallant therefore leaves his weapon leaning against the door-post when he enters — as a sign to all who pass by that the lady’s attentions are spoken for.”
Stephenson, Neal (2009). The Confusion (P.S.) (Kindle Locations 11373-11379). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.
I don't mean to suggest much more than that there is a well-functioning matriarchy alive and well in black society, and it is significant. Perhaps if it were admitted and understood, then we might find some interesting patterns emerging.
Like most of the Kwaku set, I engaged quite a bit on last week's controversy over who got married in slavery days. And since I wasn't born last week, I have heard all of the generalizations about the greatness and persistence of the African, the legacies of slavery, the refutations of Moynihan, black macho and the myth of the super woman, and my new favorite - the Luther Problem, which is kinda like The Denzel Principle. So let me digress on that a bit.
The Luther Problem is the extraordinary acceptance of black women of the romantic blatherations of gay black men on the reverse DL. IE gay men singing love songs about women. Which is to say there is something profoundly odd about the fact that women fall in love with men who use the romantic proxy of gay Cyranos. A chair is just a chair, even when there's no one sitting there, but a male is not a man and a homo is not a wingman. Unless he is, and Luther was. There is surely something to protest in this point of view, but I won't hear it from anyone who prattles on about Catholic priests. Either love is Platonic or it is not. End of (strange) digression.
So this basically boils down to the fundamental question of whether it is reasonable to make beef about the extraordinary fact of black single parentage. Is it cultural or economic phenomenon? If it is a cultural phenomenon, then the extent to whether it should be considered positive or negative must depend on your view of matriarchy.
What say you?
I say Moyniahan was right.