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In an opinion column for the Times of Trenton, social science professor W. Renee Walker argues that black female-headed households should be at the center of our national dialogue about race.

In the 21st century, gender inequality is even more concentrated among African-American female-headed families with children younger than 5 years of age. This group accounts for the majority of American families in poverty. The condition of these female-headed families is more acute than that of the African girls in antebellum America, who made up the 70 percent of the work force that started working by the age of 7.

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Today’s African-American female family heads do not live in nuclear families, they do not hold down steady full-time jobs and, unlike their antebellum African female family counterparts, they are more likely to have given birth to the first of their seven children before they graduated from high school and before they cast their first vote to elect any government officials to represent them.

When adolescent girls head single-parent homes, they are unequipped physiologically, emotionally or financially to rear one child, let alone the seven children and grandchildren they are likely to inherit in their lifetime. Traditional human services have been ineffective with these families, whose girls produce the children in custody because of adjudicated births, truancies, detentions, diversions, probations, incarcerations and paroles that follow them from their first pregnancy to the end of life.

Read W. Renee Walker's entire column at the Times of Trenton.