Attention, All Brothers!

We love you, but we need more of you to be doing the right thing. Although your possibilities are endless, far too many of you are making bad decisions and have dropped out on our families.

And although some of you do take good care of us, recent statistics released in the National Urban League's annual State of Black America report indicate that many of you rank as an endangered species.

I'm deeply troubled that more of you are in jail than in college, and that you are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated than we black women are. You are also at a higher risk of dropping out of high school, having a heart attack, or getting shot than any other group in America.

Our community is in deep trouble, and we have an entire generation of dysfunctional families deep in crisis. Black women head the majority of our households, and our children are growing up without the family values necessary to build a strong nation. Far too many of you are precisely the type of men that we don't want our daughters to marry.

Despite these grim numbers, some of you brothers are great.

You work hard, are generous with your time, spirit and money, and are good husbands and fathers. You are leaders in our communities - warriors, wise men and elders who offer good counsel. You take care of other men's children. You are outstanding, and we are proud to be yours.

Unfortunately, there aren't enough black men like you available. Either some lucky woman already has you - or you want be a player. You leave us for other women. Or you're gay. And that leaves a lot of us stuck being alone.

Or . . . what? We have to share the limited pool of good black men? We really don't want to, even though - let's face it - we often do. But only out of desperation because, outside of polygamy, we really hate it when you run other women.

Sometimes, so that we aren't by ourselves, some of us even choose unworthy men. (You know who you are.)

You run away from responsibility. You're violent. You abuse us and get in trouble with the law because you have no education and can't keep a full-time job. You get strung out on drugs. And what about that day-care bill you promised to pay? You're a month behind on that. Again!

It's not OK for you to drop your seed, and then take off. It isn't fair for you to neglect your kids and show up once a year at Christmas, but not in court.

In fact, why do I need a judge to make you be a father? Did you forget that being a daddy includes putting a roof over your children's heads and food on the table? I'm tired of always being broke because you insist on paying rent anywhere but here.

I shouldn't have to wait for you to man up, while you rag on me to your friends. Or - chase some man's booty.

Brothers, you have to get your act together. Our daughters need positive male reinforcement so they don't end up getting pregnant by some loser, out of desperation for a man's attention. Our son only has me in the house for his role model, and what can I teach him about manhood ? Your not being around, for whatever reason, takes a heavy toll on all of us. This single motherhood thing is wearing me out. (Just like you do!)

Our children never have enough of anything. And, even though I work all the time, we skip a lot of essentials. Like health insurance.

Because I'm always gigging to try to make ends meet, I don't spend nearly enough time with our children. When I do, I'm so burned out, I'm barely civilized. I yell a lot. And our kids are starting to run wild.

So, to you positive brothers, continue on - and please inspire the others by setting your great example. And to those of you who don't measure up, please get it together. We sisters are angry having to pull all this weight by ourselves. Poverty prevails for too many of us, and we will never get ahead like this.

Ya'll need to make a new pledge! One that will put you back in your God-given seats at the head of our households. Please do this for your progeny. Do it for your nation. And please, my brother, do it for my sake!

Because you see, Black Man, we really need you to come back home ! Strong! Our children are watching. *

Love, your sister,

The Black Woman

Fatimah Ali is a freelance journalist.