MEDIA/OPINION

Black Mama, White Mama

As I watched the national news last week, there was a major story out of Gloucester, Massachusetts concerning seventeen white girls at Gloucester High School who are all pregnant at the same time. This number is more than four times the number of pregnancies that the school (with an enrollment of 1,200) has had in a year. The news media reported that that the pregnancies may have been part of a pact that the girls made with each other in order to raise their children together.

This town and its residents are described as Catholic and blue collar. I sat in amazement as the media spun a tale that portrayed the Gloucester teens as sympathetic victims who may have been caught up in a teen celebrity culture that glorifies pregnancy and identifies with teens such as Jaime Lynn Spears.

I can’t help but feel that if this same situation were being played out in a high school in South Central Los Angeles, Harlem, Detroit, Chicago or in any urban city in America that the media would not have been as friendly. Black teens would have continued to be portrayed as reckless, immoral, and irresponsible. There would have been howls and shouts of “where was the parental responsibility of black parents?” by Fox News reporter Bill O’Reilly, white conservatives and probably even our own Bill Cosby.

I’m not an advocate for anyone to have a child – adult, teen, white, black or otherwise – who is not capable of providing a financially stable and loving home. But because the teens in question were white and not black, I feel there was a racial double standard in how much sympathy they received and how it was reported.

The Gloucester teens are now going to have to face a huge hurdle in life being young mothers. I hope they are successful for their sake, and for the children they will have to raise. Fortunately for them, they escaped the sting and criticism of the media who didn’t barrage them with a string of questions about the morals. For black teens who continue to have early pregnancies, they unfortunately will more than likely continue to receive ridicule by the media, pundits and others about with whom and where their baby’s father is. This is most certainly another racial double standard. And unfortunate one to say the least.

Najee Ali is Executive Director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E, a national civil rights organization that advocates for the human rights of oppressed people regardless of race, gender or religion. He was selected by Wave Newspapers and Our Weekly Newspaper as one of the 25 most influential black leaders in Los Angeles. More information is available at: www.islamichope.org.


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