I have a backlog of unused links in a Pending folder.

One of them is a profile of radio host Larry Elder‘s 2012 book Dear Father, Dear Son with the subtitle Two Lives, Eight Hours. The photo is of his father’s snack bar in Los Angeles. More about that in a moment.

Writing for World Daily News in January 2013, during the aftermath of the Sandy Hook killings, Elder says that American society is suffering not from gun culture but from a fatherless culture (emphases mine below):

Rapper/actor Ice T (“Cop Killer”) and I attended the same high school. In the 1991 John Singleton film “Boyz n the Hood,” the teenagers attend that school and car-cruise the South Central Los Angeles boulevard after which the school is named.

Crenshaw High opened in 1968. By the time Ice-T left, less than a decade later, Crenshaw had become, in the rapper’s words, “a Crip school” – meaning one controlled by that street gang. Because of the school’s reputation for violence, Time magazine called it “Fort Crenshaw.” A powerhouse in basketball and football, the school lost its accreditation 2005, before getting it back in 2006 on a short-term basis.

In 1970, I was part of the second graduating class in the new school’s history. Some kids who started with me in the 10th grade did not finish. But it was the exception rather than the rule. By 2012, only 51 percent of Crenshaw’s students graduated.

What happened?

Dads disappeared. Or, more precisely, to use Bill Cosby’s term, the number of “unwed fathers” exploded.

He goes on to say:

In 1979 the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth found that fatherless kids were twice as likely to drop out of school and that girls who grew up without dads were 2.5 times more likely to become pregnant teenagers.

Rutgers University sociology professor David Popenoe published “Life Without Father” in 1996, where he describes the “massive erosion” of fathers in America. Popenoe concluded that boys raised without fathers were more likely to have problems with drugs, alcohol, behavior and social interactions. Several studies during the ’90s found that disruption in family structures was a predictor of children’s gang involvement.

Many on the left dismiss the importance of fathers as “right-wing,” blame-the-victim propaganda. Well, the late rapper Tupac Shakur, in the posthumously released documentary “Resurrection,” said: “I know for a fact that had I had a father, I’d have some discipline. I’d have more confidence.” He admits that he starting hanging out with gangs because he wanted to belong to a family structure, and it offered structure, support and protection – the kind of thing we once expected home and family to provide.

Anyone who knows a bit about gang culture will know that the gang leader acts as a surrogate father and that his top assistants as big brothers, meting out brutal punishments to members violating house rules.

Larry Elder’s upbringing in an unsavoury part of Los Angeles was quite different.

In this YouTube clip, Elder — a graduate of Brown University and University of Michigan Law School — tells the interviewer about his troubled relationship with his dad:

Elder explains that he and his father — married, working and living at home — got into an argument when Elder was 15. They did not speak to each other for ten years.

When they did start talking again, they had an eight-hour long conversation.

Until that point Elder did not understand what his father had been through from childhood in the South through to the time he was raising a family.

Elder Sr took his surname from his mother’s long-term boyfriend. In a parallel with Elder Jr, Elder Sr did not get on with the man of the house and was thrown out at age 13. He went on to serve his country during the Second World War. Upon returning to the South, he could not get a job. Frustrated but determined, he moved to California. He had problems finding employment as a short order cook because he had no references. Eventually, he ended up working two jobs whilst his wife raised the children. Larry Elder said that his parents believed it was important for his mother to stay at home.

Elder Sr, he tells us, only got four-and-a-half hours of sleep for decades. Even when he had saved up enough money to open the snack bar, Larry says his dad was always on edge. Home life proved difficult, especially once the children began working there:

… what I knew I hated — really, really hated. Cold, ill-tempered, thin-skinned, my father always seemed on the brink of erupting.

But Larry never knew about his father’s trials until the eight-hour conversation many years later. That is the reason for the book.

Larry Elder wants to reconcile children with their fathers, those fortunate enough to know them. In the Fox News interview, he says he has heard from men and women around the country who have mended fences with their dads and have come to understand them and love them in an entirely different light.

Elder believes that fathers are essential and that couples should marry before having children:

The formula for achieving middle-class success is simple: Finish high school; don’t have a child before the age of 20; and get married before having the child. Preparing for the future requires dedication. It requires deferring gratification, precisely the kind of “discipline” Tupac admitted he lacked because he grew up without a father.

Doing what you want to do is easy. Doing what you have to do is hard. Dads, by getting up and going to work each day, send a powerful message every day to their children: Hard work wins. There are no short cuts. The outcome is unknowable. But the effort is entirely within your control.

His own success is a testament to the upbringing he had, flawed and harsh as it was.

Elder says that whatever we perceive to be the problems in the black community are not the crucial issue. As he tells Tavis Smiley (at 5:06 and near the end of the interview) the crux of the matter is ‘children having children’:

He wants people to take responsibility for their own lives and rely less on the welfare state.

Incidentally, this is not just a black problem: Britain has many whites who have adopted the same multi-generational lifestyle.

In December 2014, Los Angeles radio station KABC dropped its hometown host’s show from its schedule. However, Elder’s show is syndicated and can be heard via other American radio stations and online.

Elder’s politics are small-state libertarian. Some would call him conservative, particularly in his probing and fascinating interview of Bill Ayers, who — amazingly — progressed from antiwar terrorist to teacher to Obama’s mentor:

Several of Elder’s fans would prefer that he be President of the United States rather than a talk show host. I can see their point.

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