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“I was young and ambitious and I love women. You can’t knock a man for loving women,” was Shaw’s answer.

Spoken like a stockman – defining “ambition” through his ability to impregnate women.

Tubman probably tossed mightily over that response.

In any case, what’s happening with black men like Shaw and Hatchett, and the mothers of their children, is disturbing.

On one level, it’s disturbing because for some reason, black men like them have decided that the only way to assert their manhood in a society that they feel devalued in is to have a lot of children they can’t afford.

We need to start asking why that is.

It’s also sad that the mothers of these children see no problem in having children with irresponsible men – and putting themselves in a position in which they will have to rely on a social service system that will only enable them to survive and not thrive – if that.

Just like during slavery.

And while the old plantation is gone, new ones are springing up to profit off children produced by the Shaws and Hatchetts of this country.

The people who run private prisons are counting on children who grow up in poverty, mostly because of little support from fathers like Shaw and Hatchett, to fill those cells by falling into criminality and dysfunction. They’re counting on them to fill minimum-wage jobs that won’t give them a decent chance of getting ahead.

This is the kind of fate that no black person ought to be settling for; to being reduced to an object of ridicule by being a throwback to the days when they were treated as breeders and nothing else.

People like Tubman fought so that black people could avoid being reduced to that. It’s sad that nearly 150 years later, some black people still believe that’s all they have to offer.

Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonyaajweathersbee.

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