Last Thursday, Beyond Baby Mamas launched its very first weekly webcast in a series called Conversations with Single Mothers of Color. After a 25-minute delay due to technical difficulties, my wonderful panelists — mother of two, social media butterfly, and blogger Vik VarWoo, government finance specialist and mother to one son Jakiba Herndon, nursing assistant, part-time nursing student, and mother of one girl Katrice Evans, fundraiser-by-day, advocate against sexual violence Damali Robertson, and freelance writer and mother of a five-year-old daughter Mahoganie Jade Browne — and I embarked on a wonderful conversation, highlighting a few statistics that are often levied against single moms as evidence that the composition of their families is deeply problematic. We also talked about stereotypes and the joys and challenges of single motherhood.
Unfortunately none of that recorded.
I did some “micro-recapping” of our discussion at our Tumblr page, but rather than waiting until this week and jumping in with Episode Two (“The Help”: Building Support Systems and Villages), I asked a few of my original guests to come back and re-record.
This time out, I decided not to engage the statistics during the webcast, as that proved counter-intuitive to our focus, which is to tell our stories not for the purpose of “refuting” statistics but rather for the purpose of providing support and encouragement to one another and to add a more human perspective to the national conversation around the “epidemic” of minority single parenting in the U.S.
We’ve been running the stats, via Tumblr, concurrently with our webcast Conversation. If you’d like to read them before or after viewing the episode above, our previously cited numbers here, here, and here. Each of these either debunks a myth (e.g. “Most single/poor mothers are on welfare.”) or provides further context (Married or single, 49 percent of total pregnancies in the U.S. are “unplanned,” according to one study. According to another, children born to unmarried parents aren’t necessarily “fatherless”).
Though we do intend to devote an entire upcoming Conversation to child support, last night’s webcast did touch on our panel’s experiences with it, in the interest of pushing back against stereotypes. To provide further statistic context, here’s a partial U.S. Census report on child support payments, according to income, relationship status, and race:
About 40 percent of custodial parents in each of the following groups received full child support: those who were never married, those who were Black, or those in poverty (Figure 5). Thirty-two percent of those under 30 received all the child support they were due.
This suggests, first, that a far greater number of young, Black custodial parents whose income places them at or below the poverty line are not receiving the child support they’ve been court-awarded than those who are receiving their monthly court-ordered payments. Secondly, this suggests that the idea that a representative number of custodial parents are using child support “over-payments” as their sole or primary means of income is patently ridiculous.
And among those who are receiving child support, the likelihood that they are receiving enough for independent wealth is slim to none:
According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau report (pdf link), the median child support payment in the U.S. is $280 a month. The average child support payment is a little higher – $350 a month. That’s a noticeable amount – similar in scope to payments on a new car – but it’s hardly the crushing, slavery-like burden some MRAs seem to describe child support as.
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