Pass up that `Baby Mama' dance, girls

March 22, 2006|By GREGORY KANE

Can I be the only one who finds something wrong with this quote?

"They didn't cater to pregnant girls at all. They don't have any sympathy for you. The attitude is, `It's your fault.'"

Thus spake Alyssa Boyd, with all the wisdom accumulated from living 17 long years on this earth, in an article by Sun reporter Sara Neufeld that ran Monday. According to Neufeld's article, Boyd was a top student at Western High School before she got pregnant and transferred to the Laurence G. Paquin Middle/High School, which has a history of giving pregnant girls the opportunity to continue their education.

Now I wouldn't presume to judge Ms. Boyd for getting pregnant. The truth is, I can't. In today's society, we judge folks who object to teen pregnancy. Heaven forbid we should judge the teens themselves.

But I'm having trouble with Boyd's line about "the attitude is, `It's your fault.'"

Well, Ms. Boyd, aside from the young man who made you pregnant, just whose fault is your pregnancy, exactly?

Now I know we live in a society where the words "personal responsibility" have been driven from the language. And I know we live in an age where some folks will blame everyone and anyone for things they alone are responsible for.

Remember the presidential campaign of 2004? No? I can't blame you. There's a reason the word "campaign" has a second syllable that rhymes with "pain."

But Vice President Dick Cheney and vice presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards had a televised debate in which both confessed that they didn't know about the rise in the number of HIV-positive black women in the United States. The reaction of some black folks was sadly predictable.

Did they blame the HIV-positive black men who passed on the disease to black women?

Nope. Too easy. Too much like correctly blaming the guilty parties.

They blamed Cheney. Got mad at him, too. Somehow Edwards avoided the dudgeon.

But here's a safe bet: When those black men with HIV were busy infecting those black women, Cheney was nowhere around. And here's a safer bet: In not one of those sexual encounters was either party thinking about Cheney.

So there you have it: In today's culture, blame everything and everybody but the very person or persons who should get blame. But in the case of teen pregnancy, I can't imagine there's anyone out there who has the thinking that Boyd referred to: "The attitude is, `It's your fault.'"

You mean, in today's "baby-mama" culture, there are still people who think this way?

Well, thank heavens for that.

For those of you not familiar with the "baby-mama" culture, or even where the term originated, I'll give a brief lesson.

A "baby mama" is an urban slang term for an unwed mother. For those of you who have a computer, go to urbandictionary.com and look up some of the definitions. The term is definitely not a compliment.

That didn't stop recent American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino from putting out a song with the title "Baby Mama." And it didn't stop her from including egregiously silly lines in the song, such as "I think there should be a holiday for single mothers trying to make a way."

In other words, being a "baby mama" is a good thing, something to be celebrated. Something to be cherished.

When I suggested that such a message might not be what black America needs at just this point in time - with only 32 percent of black households having a father in them, according to some accounts - some black folks got downright livid. One woman went ballistic when I dared to suggest that those black women who finish college, get jobs, get married and then have children are just as worthy of praise as "baby mamas."

Yes, I got 'buked, scorned and treated like a Tonton Macoute for dissing Fantasia's "Baby Mama." I thought I was combating such nonsense. Apparently I was wrong.

"A lot of this has to do with the culture they're living in," Rosetta Stith said of girls who listen to songs like "Baby Mama." Stith is the director of the Paquin school. She explained how the school has a constant fight in teaching girls not only what decisions to make, but in how to be more discriminating about their taste in music.

"If we teach our children about these things," Stith said, "they make better decisions about what they listen to."

Stith and Paquin's staff also teach the girls that, at times, peer pressure can have adverse effects.

"It's that herd mentality you're seeing," Stith said. "They dress the same. They think the same." When that herd mentality says girls should say "yes" to sex, Stith has an answer for it.

"You know the old saying `It takes two to tango'?" Stith asked. "I want young ladies to say, `I'll pass this dance up.'"

So, Ms. Boyd, your teachers at Western weren't saying it was your fault.

They were just saying you should have passed on the dance.

greg.kane@baltsun.com

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