By Marc Little, The Prodigal Republican

America is populated with over 300,000,000 people. One out of every six of these Americans lives in poverty. According to the Food Research and Action Center, nearly 48 million of them are on food stamps and have joined the ranks of the 7.7% unemployed in the nation, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I wonder what success means for us now as a nation and whether or not Americans still hope for success in their future in this post-recession economic climate.

To many of us, success is equivalent to the amount of money we have. You’re not likely feeling successful if you cannot pay the bills. But the fundamentals of success do not start with money.

Understanding success is a complicated matter in the context of pop culture. Success has become a reflection of what we see in the media and not what we are taught at home. Society is missing the main ingredients needed to foster a healthy perspective on life and success. One ingredient is marriage.

For example, in the 1960’s, 7% of white children were born to unwed mothers. Today that number is 38%. In the black community today, more than 69% of children are born to unwed mothers; the number is 44% for Hispanic children, according to an article by Robert Rector for The Heritage Foundation. We have become a nation that does not value marriage as we once did and there may be a direct correlation to achieving success.

Men are wired to be providers and mothers are typically the nurturers. Together, they teach a model of success to their children and the results manifest in school, marriage,  relationships, on the job and even bank accounts.

“When compared to similar children raised by two married biological parents, children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to fail in school, abuse drugs or alcohol, commit crimes, become pregnant as teens, and suffer from emotional and behavioral problems. Such children are also more likely to end up on welfare or in jails when they become adults,” Rector writes.

With more and more children being born to unwed mothers, the model for teaching success is broken. This is clear by the images that our popular culture projects. Today, the successful celebrities devalue women and call them(selves) nicknames that begin with a “B” or an “H”. The successful must have the Phantom Rolls Royce, the Rolex, the private jet, all while popping bottles of champagne in the club. These images are consumed by blacks and whites alike and are unrealistic for most. In fact, the FCC should start labeling these ads, videos, and lyrics with, “Don’t try this at home. This activity can be harmful to your mental condition.” C. Delores Tucker, a civil rights activist, spent her life standing against the devolution caused by the pop culture.

But reality settles in.  Brad Plumer, blogger for the Washington Post says 46.4% of Americans don’t even make enough income to be required to pay federal income taxes. Success for them is a daily effort.

We will always have the “haves” and the “have-nots.” But the gap between the wealthy and the poor is growing. The median household net worth for whites was $110,729 in 2010, versus $4,995 for blacks, which is 22 to 1; the difference is similarly with Hispanics, who had a median household net worth of $7,424. The ratio between white and Hispanic wealth expanded to 15 to 1, reports CNN Money. The American Dream seems to be getting away from more and more Americans, generation after generation.

This is what happens when the model of parenting all too often is missing one-half of itself, notwithstanding the federal government’s ever expanding effort to subsidize American life and whose welfare policies fail to encourage marriage.

Black and Hispanic two-parent households are disproportionate to whites; the gap of success for whites over the other groups may be directly tied to marriage.

While there is no guarantee for anyone to succeed, the best starter kit is in the home with a mother and a father no matter the race.

When we begin to value marriage and fight to keep our families together, we will all begin to see success in our future again.






Marc Little

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