Now Barack Obama, courageously, is asking: Where are the black fathers?
In most discussions of race and racism, social critics have largely sidestepped the basic issue of fathers missing in the lives of children, black or white.
Today, statistics tell us that seven out of 10 black babies are born to single mothers; four out of 10 whites. Do these numbers hint at what's to come in 15 or 20 years?
Statistics further tell us ...
---Young black men raised in single-parent families on welfare and living in public housing are twice as likely to engage in criminal activities compared to black men raised in two-parent families also on welfare and living in public housing.
---Overall, 72 percent of adolescents charged with murder grew up without their fathers.
---Overall, a study found that 70 percent of juveniles in state reform institutions grew up in single or no-parent situations.
Bill Cosby tackled the issue and got burned.
Hopefully, Barack Obama, now with significant political clout, can finally break through the wall of social silence and persuade young men to honor their responsibilities as fathers ... to at least give their child a chance at a decent life.
Isn't something terribly out of focus?
In America, convicted felons are denied the right to vote. But, according to the latest U.S. Supreme Court decision, enemy combatants ... people trying to kill our soldiers ... receive the same protection under the Constitution as U.S. citizens?
As The York Dispatch noted earlier, more than 20 factories are on the "Made in America" tour of local manufacturing facilities June 18-21.
From chocolate to carpeting, as reporter Christ ina Kauffman put it, York County workers make it. And that raises another point:
When you want a distinctive gift for someone, consider Shadowfax. Workers there assemble a variety of locally made snacks in delightful gift baskets. Get the details, 854-7742.
Speaking of baskets, the Area Agency on Aging notes that "safe" foods for summer picnics include: Hard cheese, soft drinks, peanut butter, pepperoni, pickles, raw vegetables, bread, potato chips, pretzels, nuts, jelly, cookies, cakes without cream icing, fresh or canned fruit, canned puddings and hard-cooked eggs in the shell.
Ice everything else.
Help save the trees. York Rotary advises: Remove your name from junk mail lists. Nearly 62 million trees are destroyed every year to produce mail that most people throw away.
Heat, picnics and ants are part of our summer fun.
York County Parks tells us it's not healthy to be a male ant ... explaining:
"Males play no social role in a colony except for mating with the queen and then dying shortly after."
Well, the Fourth of July is drawing near again, and the same old rumor is popping up in the e-mail. The words "under God" are supposed to have been dropped in the Pledge of Allegiance appearing on cans of Pepsi soda. Not true, says Snopes.com ... never has been true, despite the recurring report.
New Eagle Scouts ...
Adam Gress, Troop 67, Dover Lions Club ... son of William and Jane Gress. Project: Built and installed covered picnic tables and brick pavers at Rocky Ridge Park.
Alex Beard, Troop 146, Wellsville Fire Co. ... son of Allen and Donna Beard. Project: Painted the nursery walls and a mural for Barrens United Lutheran Church.
Jed Renshaw, also Troop 146 ... son of John and Marcy Renshaw. Project: Constructed picnic tables for Barrens United Lutheran Church.
While the private job market may be shaky, all is well in government. Federal, state and local governments reportedly are hiring new workers at the fastest pace in six years ... a perfect example of politicians putting your tax dollars to work.
Rounding up ...
---5th Annual Senior Art Show ... 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.
---Summer Senior Excursions ... starting Thursday at the Rail Trail, Seven Valleys Fire Dept. ... details, 840-7440.
---8th Annual Penn-Mar Irish Festival ... 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, The Markets at Shrewsbury.
---St. Mary's Hispanic Festival ... 5-9 p.m. Friday, noon-9 p.m. Saturday.
---Sam & Tony's Annual Picnic ... a benefit for the Lupus Support Group, noon-4 p.m. Saturday.
---June Jamboree ... 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, York Township Park.
---Ray Owen ... classic American songs, 6 p.m. Sunday, Dallastown Lions Park.
---Rottler Exhibit ... through June 22, York Art Association.
---Gale Jamieson Exhibit ... through Aug. 16, Arts Center of York.
---Closing ceremonies for the York County Senior Games ... 6 p.m. Sunday, Springettsbury Park, with a concert by "Beginnings" at 7.
---Visit Wallace-Cross Mill, operating since 1826 ... 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 20-21, part of the "Made in America" project.
---Reptile Week at Nixon Park June 21-29, details, 428-1961.
Columns by Hank Merges, a local writer, appear Tuesday and Thursday in The York Dis patch. Reach Hank at email@example.com or 854-1575.