By Jack Brewer
It is a problem many recognize, too few discuss, and even fewer know how to address, but the problem is persistent and leading to a generation of failed children. Too many children do not grow up with a father in their home. Thankfully this week leaders in the State of Florida stepped up to begin addressing the fatherless crisis.
Wednesday, I was proud to stand with Speaker of the House Chris Sprowls and Rep. Thad Altman on the Capitol steps in my home state of Florida as we advanced meaningful policy to support American families. This legislation, introduced during Black History Month, will tackle the issues head-on by encouraging responsible fatherhood, alleviating the crisis of at-risk boys, and supporting foster children—especially those who age out of care.
Too many people in this country like to play the blame game regarding why the Black community has fallen behind. Invisible superstructures like “systemic racism” and “oppression” are tapped as the culprits of all our problems, while the glaring issues in front of our very noses are ignored. Unfortunately, the true underlying causes of many of the issues we see plaguing the black community are seldom mentioned publicly: the destruction of the nuclear family and the fatherhood crisis that has emerged across the nation.
The data is in —fatherlessness lies at the root of nearly every social problem in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 1 in 4 children, or just over 18 million in total, live without any father in the home. Similarly, the US has the highest rate of children living in single-parent households among any country in the world. For black children, the number who grow up in single-parent homes is roughly 6 million—or 64% of the total population.
The effects of this epidemic of fatherlessness span issues ranging from education and health to crime, and so much more. For example:
- 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
- 85% of all children with behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.
- 85% of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes.
- 75% of families relying on public housing are led by single women.
- 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
In my mind, it is borderline criminal the way the Black community has been used to advance a progressive agenda rather than offered real solutions. America’s politicians have refused to step up and confront the underlying problem—too many black children in America today are growing up without a father.
I see this reality firsthand every day. I run the Jack Brewer Foundation in Florida, where I see black children coming to school every day with no father in their lives. They have no male figure to lead them, push them to greatness, discipline them when they fall short, or help them grow through their most formative years.
That is the actual sin staining America today. As a country, we are better than this.
For real change to occur, Americans need to stand firm and fix the problems that we created. Our country gives massive tax incentives to corporations—I think it is past time to focus on the family instead and create some tax incentives to stabilize the American family.
Similarly, we need to stop disincentivizing marriage with a broken tax code that penalizes two-parent households. We need to stop perpetuating the education gap by passing school choice. Right here in Florida, we have seen the school choice model works for parents, teachers, and kids.
We need a full-court press approach to fatherhood, spearheaded by a national effort from Washington. We need athletes, celebrities, public figures, and business leaders to speak on the joys of fatherhood and highlight the true heroes that fathers are for their children. And we need politicians to speak honestly about our problems and focus on fixing them—not just repeat the same tired talking points that have for decades divided us up by race and pushed a progressive political agenda.
As a Black man who had two children, raised in a home without me there every day, I understand this issue from both sides.
I was blessed with the resources of playing pro football and having a family that helped me afford the travel and custody time to fill the gap, but the vast majority of our fatherless are not as blessed as my kids were, so we must fight for them — not just repeat the same tired points of a narrative for decades dividing us up by race, while aggressively pushing a Left political agenda.
It’s time for all of us to dig in and fix this — now.
Jack Brewer is a former NFL safety and 3x team captain who played for the Vikings, Giants, Eagles and Cardinals. He is a devoted philanthropist and an ordained minister who works in prisons across America; leading over $70 million in aid delivery and resources to the worlds most underserved through the efforts of The Jack Brewer Foundation. Brewer is a White House Appointee on the Commission for the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, Chair of the Center for Opportunity Now at America First Policy Institute, a Board Member of the Geo Group, Inc. and a Board Member of the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation. Jack coaches baseball, flag football and track through his American Heroes youth program, is a father of 4 and resides in South Florida with his beautiful wife Cortney.