with Meriqua Whyte and Daniella Whyte
“The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood.” —Mary McLeod Bethune
I am forever amazed at the broad shoulders of black women, and how God has used them down through the years in this country and beyond, to not only help the black community stay together, but to move us forward as a race — yea, indeed, to even help hold America together, and to move her forward as well.
I think about the courage of Harriett Tubman, Ida B. Wells, and Sojourner Truth. I also think about the class, dignity, and toughness of Coretta Scott-King, Rosa Parks and Dorothy Height. I am afraid, however, that these women had something that many of our young black women today simply do not have.
I am very concerned for our young black women. In light of the quote above by Mary McLeod Bethune, “The true worth of a race must be measured by the character of its womanhood,” many of our young women today are not expressing the character and the class that the black women of old showed. Many of them have dropped the standards of the past. I remember even when I was a child back in the sixties and seventies, when the young ladies were admonished by the grandmothers, mothers, and aunts to “stop being so fast”: a clear warning that meant to stop carrying yourself like a loose girl. It meant to stop running after boys and to carry yourself like a lady. Well, I haven’t heard that phrase in a long time, and unfortunately, it is showing. Consider with me some horrifying statistics regarding our young women today:
- Young black women have the highest teen pregnancy rate among all races in America (134 per 1,000 women aged 15-19).
- AIDS is now the leading cause of death in African-American women ages 16-34.
- Our young women are 7 times more likely to be depressed and twice as likely to commit suicide than our young men.
- The average number of abortions performed on black women each day in the United States is over 1500.
- Slightly over half of all female prisoners are African American, while this group constitutes just 14 percent of the U.S. population.
Besides the painful facts above, what troubles me the most is that more young black women today are allowing themselves to be used, mistreated, and hurt by unscrupulous men who do not care anything for them, and who do not even have the capacity to treat them with love and respect. And what happens is that moral failures that are pleasurable and seem small while doing them, end up impacting the rest of their lives with devastating consequences. I believe this lack of self-respect is what breeds the horrifying statistics above.
These letters are more about prevention than it is about healing. There are many other great men and women of God who are doing great work in the healing and restoration department for young black women. I believe that many of the problems that you, as young black women are dealing with today can be prevented from happening in the first place. I also believe that in order for you to be victorious in this life, you must operate from a position of strength and power based upon the Word of God. These letters will empower you to win against your enemies: the devil, sorry men, and even yourself. I hope that you will read it and never live a defeated life again.
If Black America is to survive and thrive, not only do our young black men need to rise, but our young black women need to rise again.