Think

Why Black Girls Get Pregnant at 19

By Shaniya Jergens*

I’ll tell you one thing straight. I’m a young black woman. And I got pregnant at 19. And at 17. And at 16. You think once would be enough to let a young chick like me know that protection is important and not something to play with. But the reason why I’m pregnant and so many other girls have fallen into my footsteps is because I had no real dreams for myself.

Grades weren’t a thing in elementary and middle school. You got A’s for dressing out in physical education class and for coming to homeroom on time. I spent a lot of my time in class not really learning anything from teachers who weren’t really teaching anything but more importantly, allowing my hormones to fruition. What middle school guys and girls didn’t talk about sex or giggle at the slides of vaginas in health education class? I know I did. My hips were getting a little wider and I was starting to develop a chest. The boys liked it. And I liked the attention.

I liked the attention so much that I allowed it to become my world and all I knew. School didn’t matter to me anymore. All that mattered were spending countless nights on the phone talking to more than one  guy at  a time and acting like I was the ish. And dressing like I was the ish. All the paychecks I earned at Subway went towards buying hot clothes and shoes at the mall and making sure I looked sharp from head to toe. I earned enough in class to pass and get promoted to the next grade and I found a little time to be the baddest chick on the step team. However, if you had asked me when I was 16 what my passions were or what ambitions I had, I would have told you nothing but making money, being popular, and boys. Seriously. I was that gone in the head.

I realized how wrong I was a few boys too late. The same year that I bought my first Jordans was the same year that I got pregnant with my first child. I wasn’t in a committed relationship..just having sex with some random guys in my neighborhood. And I was having sex unprotected because I thought it was sexier. I thought it was more attractive. I thought guys were into that. I wanted to be bad. I wanted guys to think that I was the best thing in the world and that no other chick at my high school could touch me. The guy I was with told me I could easily make it all go away. Just have an abortion and be done with it. So I did. And when I got pregnant again the next year with a different guy, I had another abortion. All without my parents knowing.

My parents. They were there, but not really. They worked all the time, day and night shifts so I got away with a lot. They’d yell at me about flunking out of school and trying to make sure I was staying on track to have a future after high school. But the problem was that I had already began to believe that I wouldn’t have a future after high school. That sex,  money, and drugs (an unfortunate habit that I picked up from the multitude of guys that I was dating) would become my life and was all I needed.  I really believed this.  So I would chuck out any information that I got about college, I wouldn’t take the SATs because I was like to hell with it, I’m going to fail it anyways. And I would graduate at the bottom of my class with no passion or motivation to do anything. But work at Subway. And have sex.

It was my third pregnancy that gave me a wake-up call. I was dating a guy that for the first time I had fallen in love with. So much that we had cooed over baby names together before we had even found out I was pregnant. He had gotten me motivated to check out some opportunities at the local community college. He was really trying to change me from the inside out and I was happy about that. After a slew of STD run-ins over the previous three years I had started using protection. But one night I gave him a ratty old condom that I kept in my wallet for years. And it broke. And I got pregnant again. It felt like ill fate. That a image of my past, something that I was slowly trying to move away from, would bring back so much pain.

He wanted me to keep the baby. And in a span of seconds I saw my whole past fly in front of my eyes and out the window. Having a baby meant no more cash spent on shoes and clothes. But money spent on taking care of more than one person now. It was a sad moment in that instance when I knew I was pregnant. But I was happy that I had found a man who was going to support me through it all. Or so I thought. I’m 23 now and my baby girl is my biggest bundle of joy. She honestly saved me from a life of hellish destruction. The guy I was dating at the time ended up walking out on me during my delivery. I’m trekking these roads alone these days with no child support. But I refuse to let my baby girl go down the same path.

I guess other chicks would call me a hoe. A chick that fell down the wrong path. And I can admit that I did. Big time. Why do some black girls get pregnant at a young age? Because we don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t have ambition. We get caught up in the hoop-la of fast cars and the good life. And we let the idea of hard work and success fall to the wayside. We get pregnant because we feel that the only form of love has to be physical. Because our daddies or mommies weren’t in our lives. We get pregnant because we thought he was the one. And because when our friends tried to tell us he was bullshitting we wouldn’t believe them. We get pregnant because unprotected sex is the only way to make sure we aren’t second best. We get pregnant because we have low self-esteem and the only confidence that we can seem to muster is from the feeling of slighted appreciation from some dusty ass guy. We get pregnant because we weren’t acknowledging our own sexual health or don’t comprehend the importance of taking care of ourselves inside and out. We get pregnant because we think condoms are whack and we are trying to grow up a little too fast. We get pregnant because living off of someone else’s money (welfare) is more attractive than getting up of our lazy asses to actually apply our able-bodied selves. We get pregnant because we’re lost and it’s a cry for help. We get pregnant because we don’t know no better. And we need someone smart, wiser, and older to help us know better.

We get pregnant because…well…society told us we would. There are statistics to prove it…right?

To some extent these are excuses and truths. But the real question now is what are we going to do about it? Because we need less ME’s running around in the world adding to the statistic.

This is my story. What’s yours?

 

—————————————————————-

Facts about teen pregnancy from Guttmacher Institute:

Black and Hispanic women have the highest teen pregnancy rates (126 and 127 per 1,000 women aged 15–19, respectively).

A sexually active teen who does not use a contraceptive has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant within a year.

Each year, almost 750,000 U.S. women aged 15–19 become pregnant.[19] Two-thirds of all teen pregnancies occur among 18–19-year-olds.

If you or a friend are experiencing emotional or physical difficulties with pregnancy or think it may be a crisis, contact the American Pregnancy Helpline  at 1-866-942-6466 for more information or to talk with someone confidentially. 

*Name changed for privacy.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. flywon1

    January 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    POWERFUL! and what I’m dealing with today. my 18 yr old neice just told me she’s pregnant and keeping it, and I knew this would happen. I wasnt surprised or dissapointed, I’d hoped she’d have proven me wrong, but with no goals and just living, I knew this would happen.

    • AnnaRenee

      January 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm

      @flywon1 Not trying to start nothing, but could you have inspired her in some positive way?

  2. Zindzi_Zenani

    January 3, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    I’m confused…she admits that the only thing she thought that was important in the world was being cute and being desired but then says that the teachers weren’t teaching anything. Perhaps it was that you were too busy being cute to learn anything! I’m so tired of our teachers being blamed for the failures of students and parents I don’t know what to do!!!!

    • songsforsister

      January 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm

      @Zindzi_Zenani I totally agree with you my sister! I feel like people are constantly blaming society for their faults. This young girl saw plight through the lack of ambition. I feel that we all need to remember though that we can be instrumental in people’s paths and future. Sometimes just reaching out to someone or offering advice or saying “you can do it” can be just what people need to be uplifted. Sometimes all it really takes is just one word.

    • InhaleNatassia

      January 3, 2012 at 9:04 pm

      @Zindzi_Zenani Well, I think you missed to point in the article. When she said teachers weren’t teaching anything, she didn’t mean that she was learning how to count to 10 and say her ABC’s. Obviously students have the academic opportunities in school. The writer is pointing out a fundamental flaw in American schools. Middle schoolers need to learn more than just 2+2 = 4. Growing up in the Jamaican school system, I learned about my self-value. I learned about my history and I learned about the importance in developing myself holistically. I learned how to dream and how to set goals. And most importantly, I learned to crave success. We were taught that winning was the only way. And THAT is what the author is trying to say. Without guidance from parents, some students only have school to turn to. So the school system needs to come back with something other than math and English. Especially predominantly black/hispanic schools.

    • InhaleNatassia

      January 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm

      @Zindzi_Zenani Teachers may be underpaid and overworked but that doesn’t change the fact that the American school system has some serious issues. No one is blaming the teachers, it goes fundamental establishment. I think you missed the point in the article. When she said teachers weren’t teaching anything, she didn’t mean that she wasn’t learning how to count to 10 and say her ABC’s in school. Obviously students have the academic opportunities. The writer is pointing out a fundamental flaw in American schools. Middle schoolers need to learn more than just “2+2 = 4.” Growing up in the Jamaican school system, I learned about my self-value. I learned about my history and I learned about the importance in developing myself holistically. I learned how to dream and how to set goals. And most importantly, I learned to crave success. We were taught that winning and being the best was the only way. And THAT is what the author is trying to say. Without guidance from parents, some students only have school to turn to. So the school system needs to come back with something other than math and English. Especially predominantly black/hispanic schools.

  3. Zindzi_Zenani

    January 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Other than that, I totally agree with the article, LOL. Its just that jab at underpaid and overworked teachers made me see red.

  4. myblackfriend

    January 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    I think it’s interesting that if a white male wrote these words, he’d be labeled a racist. I’m really curious to know what that’s about.

    Thank you for sharing your story; best of luck to you in the future (:

    • AlvinaEdwards

      January 3, 2012 at 9:00 pm

      @myblackfriend They would be labeled that way because they are not a young black female that experiences these things first hand. The article hits home more because it is from the personal perspective of a young black female and not just the opinion of a white Male.

  5. AnnaRenee

    January 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    I think that we adults have dropped the ball, because we don’t want to take responsibility for each others’ kids. We always say, it’s somebody’s fault. Maybe we should say, it’s OUR fault. We shouldn’t give up on our children because they are hard to deal with, or smart-assed, or wild or whatever. We should just say, it’s going to be hard, but it’s not impossible to deal with the child. Children have so much against them – with all the information they are bombarded with and not knowing what to do with it. We have to be willing to roll up our sleeves after work and do the hard work of raising our kids. How is it that our great grand and grand parents did so much more in terms of properly raising us, when they had so much less to work with, and had to deal with extreme racism? We have become hard-hearted.

  6. sweetshuga4

    January 9, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    i can understand how this author’s scenario is very similar to other girls out there. sometimes its the girls thats being “cute” and wanting attention and other times its the girl that you least expect to get pregnant. but i think the author just wants to send out a message that there is something wrong in our society when this issue is an epidemic. we now have a popular tv show…two actually about teen moms. the statistics about teen pregnancy is higher compared to other nations. something has to be done, whether its teaching about protection more (cuz lord knows my sex ed classes were a joke) or having more mentors and adults keeping in touch with our young people.

  7. Pingback: Killing Our Babies: Why Black Women Have the Highest Abortion Rate

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