Melissa Harris-Perry | February 17, 2013
>>> melissa harry perry those of you who follow me on twitter, bear with me for a moment. you probably already know the story. let me tell you what happened friday afternoon. there fs watching president obama in his hometown delivering a speech on gun violence and poverty. he was speaking at hyde park academy, blocks away from the address he called home before he moved to 1600 pennsylvania avenue . the speech was especially poignant for his recognition of two audience members, nate and cleo pendleton. the shooting death of their daughter precipitated his visit to the city. he offered understanding of cities like chicago. president obama recognized this particular kind of gun violence is about more than just weapons used to commit the crimes. it's also about poverty, a lack of access to economic opportunity for all families. the president proposed a policy solution that goes beyond regulating guns to embrace a role for the government in helping lift struggling families out of poverty. we are singing the same tune until the record scratched when he said this.
>> we should do more to promote marriage. and encourage fatherhood. we have single mothers that are heroic with what they are doing. we are so proud of them. at the same time, i wish i had a father who was around and involved. somehow, in the middle of a speech on gun violence and poverty, we were smack in the middle of the president's daddy issues. what i heard president obama 's father detour, i thought those of you on twitter know what i thought. this is what i tweeted. sigh, the fatherhood thing is distressing for me. i know you don't mean to say single moms cause gun violence , but -- that is when my twitter exploded. i went to tweet a link to a 2009 article that i wrote requester "the nation" regarding my thoughts of the president's black daddy. saying you disagree puts it mildly. i heard you loud and clear. i'm not sure after reading my incomplete thoughts that you heard me. so, please, allow me to finish that sentence. i know president obama wasn't saying single moms cause gun violence , but there are several reasons we need to be wary when they provoke fa mealial situations. here is why. policy tends to be blind to the privileged. it's families economically disadvantaged or communities of color that are spectacles of concern. single mother ons chicago's south side living in poverty. allow me to remind you adam lanza may have been raised by a single mom , but she was left wealthy following her divorce. dylan and eric massacred their classmates at columbine high and raised in stable two parent households as jared who drew his pistol on gabby giffords . it's more complicated than just add dad. to the extent fatherlessness is the problem, there's little the president can or should do to create a solution. all of us watching that speech felt genuine empathy for the very human moment the president shared, on friday, about his own fatherlessness. while the president does have a powerful bully pulpit , president obama cannot make men marry the mother of their children. he doesn't have the power to make men be responsible parents and by the way, we shouldn't want him to. just imagine all the implications of giving the state -- how to choose to con trux or families. we don't have to imagine. we know what happens. for example, based on the track record of the well means deadbeat dad 's provision of president clinton 's 1996 welfare reform act that brings me to the third point. the extent policymakers want stable families in racialized families they could conform the policies. the war on drugs. the aggressive incourse ration of young, minority men and the rule that is bar them from voting, living in public housing , securing educational loans or finding work long after they served their time. it's largely implicated in the fabric of the liberal families. closing the gab between how things are and how we wish they could be means taking a serious and focused approach to addressing joblessness, income, education and sentencing practice that is keep black and latino men in and out of prison. i hear president obama . and those of you who are calling for personal responsibility and a desire for absentee fathers to step up to the plate. sure. i mean it's a deeply, human, personal reaction. i get it. but here, we are talking about policy. let's be honest, a woman can do everything right, get an education, marry before having children and can still end up a single mom . dads don't have to be awful, uncaring deadbeats to parent from a distance. the reality of the world we are living in right now is this. single moms are responsible and they are the ones raising sons and daughters every day. single mothers in the u.s. work more than their peers in developed nations . they are holding up their end of the american bargain that offers opportunity in exchange for effort. in response our government owes them more than hopes for a husband. they deserve nothing less than reform that gives them the tools to raise children who can imagine a future beyond the nearest street corner . that means health care , affordable housing , quality public schools , child care . thank goodness president obama went on to offer that more complete picture. a crisis as pressing as our nation's question of urban violence deserves more than the simple suggestion that absentee fathers are the smoking gun . i promise. i'll let my panel talk when we come back after the break. they