Books by Jr. Pitts

Released: May 1, 1999

Syndicated Miami Herald columnist Pitts offers a thoroughly absorbing study of the African-American man's struggle to become a competent father in a society sorely lacking in role models. Detailing his personal efforts to bond with his children, the author also presents numerous case studies of black men facing similar difficulties. Sons of abusive or absent men, many members of the younger generation have to pave their way to productive fatherhood over rough terrain, while exorcising their progenitors— ghosts. As Pitts details, with 64 percent of African-American children growing up in single-parent homes, often raised by poor mothers, black youth, especially males, are at greater risk for delinquency. Lacking male role models that provide love or discipline, insecure black youth often feel abandoned and adopt the tough bravado of street culture. Interviewing black males, Pitts encounters too many who have abdicated all the responsibilities of fatherhood; some aren—t even sure how many children they have. Blaming racism for their predicament, as valid as that may be, in Pitts's view only perpetuates the cycle of black men who grew up without fathers begetting children who grow up in single-parent homes. Pitts offers helpful, sensible advice. He urges black men who have fathered children to locate them and establish a relationship with them and their mothers. Once they establish that relationship, he says, they should not try to buy kids— love but instead create structure and stability while praising them, allowing the next generation to grow up confident. Fathers must also make the children understand the importance of education, says Pitts; this is especially important in a society "that touts the notion that authentic blackness precludes academic excellence." A readable, well-balanced, impassioned account of a dilemma that touches not just the black family, but all who care about children. ($100,000 ad/promo; author tour) Read full book review >