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while the cover story “from here to Paternity” (3/16) was a fairly accurate account of my life, some of the statements I am quoted to have made were not in context. I feel the need to elaborate on reporter Amanda S. Miller’s story. One statement that was made has been retracted by the reporter: “ ‘You cannot raise a man,’ he says he tells them. ‘You don’t know what it is to walk with nuts.’ ” The statement suggests that I say those words to women in my job; I do not. I merely made that statement to the reporter as a reflection of my thinking on the matter. Another quote misrepresented my thoughts: “ ‘It wasn’t no real relationship,’ he says. ‘But I would go over there and hit it every now and then.’ ” I was asked was I ever married to or in a meaningful relationship with my daughter’s mother. That is when I described our relationship as being casual and that we had gone out a few times but was never in a committed relationship. I stated jokingly it was purely a sexual relationship (as they would say on the streets, I was hitting it). I went on to say that out of that I was blessed with a daughter, and I have always been in my daughter’s life. My reason for stating this is because I believed at the time this story was purely based on my life, and I wanted to show other men that even though they were not in a committed relationship, they were still responsible for being a part of their child’s life; no matter how the relationship starts, they were still responsible for being fathers. Since these statements were not given in their full context, they may be offensive to some women.
I have never devalued single mothers who raise their sons alone. I only wanted to convey how important it is for daughters/sons especially to have their fathers around, and what I’ve learned in my life and line of work is that sometimes women don’t seem to fully understand how important it is to have a father or positive male in the life of our children. They have become so used to being the backbone of the family in absence of the father that some have a difficult time releasing control to men at times. I am not nor have I ever been anti-woman. I appreciate and value mothers for all they do, especially when fathers aren’t around. But I think it’s important to note that men and mothers are keys to stabilizing families.
I only hoped that in sharing my story, I’d be able to inspire other men who may have come from similar backgrounds as me, because it is possible to come from a less than respectable past and find redemption. At this point in my life, I am committed to God, my family, and my community. I am a devoted father and advocate who lives his life with integrity. I hope you will clarify that by sharing my sentiments with your readers.
Also, I am not a social worker. I have a degree in education, a Family Development Credential from Cornell University, and I took my chemical addiction counseling at Howard University. But I am not a social worker.
we are pleased that attention is finally being focused on the very important but usually overlooked issue of father involvement. the federal government, the District agencies, and many partners from the private sector, the neighborhood collaboratives and a dozen other organizations are helping children and families by implementing critical fatherhood programs. As your article points out, there are many men who have fathered children but need encouragement and assistance to be real fathers, and the D.C. Fatherhood Initiative is one of the most successful models in the country. Congratulations on being the first to acknowledge this work!
Unfortunately, I would like to apologize to the public for a quote made by one of my staff, Dan McRae. While he may have made the comments, they were not what he meant. Dan is one of the city’s best fatherhood specialists. He has reunited a number of fathers financially with their families and has been highly praised by fathers. His quote appeared as if he and this agency do not support the work with our city partners.
During our four-year involvement with the city’s Department of Human Services (DHS), their grants office treated us as full partners as the program evolved; consistently responsive to our input around both the service model and our contract requirements. We are appreciative of the guidance the grants office provides to all its grantees, and especially to the staff who are responsible for the Fatherhood Initiative.
The DHS design for our work with fathers has been fully grounded in a strengths-based approach, acknowledging both the resources and needs of the clients and assisting them in reaching their goals with both hard services and understanding guidance. DHS never proposed the use of any punitive interventions as means for “encouraging” men to stay involved with the program. However, we did feel the need to educate the fathers we were working with around this matter so that they would be comfortable working with us.
Last, while improved compliance with child support orders was never an outcome required by our contract with DHS, we fully recognize the importance of non-custodial fathers to meet both their financial and emotional obligations to their children. We are currently working with the Superior Court, the Attorney General’s office and other partners on development of a “Fathers Court” model that would provide the supports and incentives necessary to assist non-compliant fathers to meet these obligations. We will only succeed in breaking the cycle of father absence when both parents share in the responsibilities of child rearing.
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify these details of what was a great summary of the challenges of engaging men to step up as fathers.
Mae H. Best
East River Family Strengthening Collaborative
pity poor cliff janey. as d.c. public schools students freeze their way through the winter and the system prepares to social-promote yet another class of children who’ve been denied a decent public education, the superintendent complains that people have gotten “caught up in the moment” and don’t have the patience needed to turn a school system around (Loose Lips, “Janey, We Hardly Knew Ye,” 2/23).
News flash, Dr. Janey. What some of us lost patience with is your apparent disconnect from the reality of how your underlings were treating us during the last year, not to mention your obvious lack of interest in responding when someone told you about it. Apparently it wasn’t enough that some of us supported the concept of what you were trying to accomplish in your master facilities plan. No, in order to gain a seat at the table, one had to support every idiotic detail as well.
When I discussed with you and the Board of Education directly last summer your assistant superintendents’ ploy of freezing out the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission and any other bona fide neighborhood representative from their secret discussions for merging Adams Elementary School with Oyster Bilingual School, you said nothing and did nothing. Your bureaucrats obviously then took their cue from you. In my six years on the ANC, yours proved to be the only agency of the District government from which I couldn’t get a phone call returned or an e-mail answered after numerous tries.
Did I lose patience? You betcha. If that’s your definition of getting “caught up in the moment,” perhaps that explains why you and your staff have so few friends left in this town.
Alan J. Roth
In last week’s cover story, news reporter Amanda S. Miller miscast a quote from Robert Jones. The quote reads as follows: “ ‘You cannot raise a man,’ he says he tells them. ‘You don’t know what it is to walk with nuts.’ ” The quote suggests that Jones says those words to women in the field. In fact, he was merely saying that to the reporter to reflect his thinking on the matter.
Also in the same story, a production error caused five words of text to be omitted from the end of page 23 in our paper edition. The sentence should have read: “They’re at the school to stand guard at the doors of the middle school’s lunchroom and control the flow of traffic.”