The Los Angeles Times article Next speaker enjoys broad support (3/2/08) details the rise of Karen Bass, the incoming leader of the California assembly and the first African American woman to be elected to lead a legislative house in the U.S. The piece was a nice example of the subtle and not-so-subtle societal bias against fathers and fatherhood. The article begins:

“Anyone who knew Wilhelmina Bass might understand why her daughter Karen Bass, the Los Angeles Democrat elected Thursday as the next leader of the California Assembly, has devoted her Capitol career to making the state a better parent to its 80,000 foster children.

“A former beauty salon owner who raised Karen and three boys in a well-appointed house in the Venice-Fairfax area, Wilhelmina Bass was a kind, poised, contemplative mother, and ‘the notion that people would come into this world and not have loving parents has always caused Karen pain,’ said Sylvia Castillo, Bass’ district director and a friend for three decades.”

We all know the script: heroic, overwhelmed black mother raises her kids herself, and now one of them has done mama proud by making good in the world.  Yet, believe it or not, Bass actually had a father, too. 

It is only much further down in the story, after we are already assuming that Bass was raised by a single mom, that we are told, “She credits her father, DeWitt, a mail carrier, for making her a ‘news junkie’ — Bass said she used to wake at 4:30 a.m. to listen to the radio with him before he began his route.”

In fact, in the autobiographical information that Bass herself provided the Democratic Party, she wrote, “Karen has dedicated her life to improving our neighborhoods. Her father, DeWitt Bass–a letter carrier for 40 years–and mother, Wilhelmina, raised Karen and her three brothers in the Venice/Fairfax neighborhood.”

In other words, Bass saw herself as being raised by both parents, and it even seems like she was at least a bit of a daddy’s girl.  Why did the Los Angeles Times choose to place far more importance on her mother than on her father?

To write a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, click on letters@latimes.com. Nancy Vogel, the Los Angeles Times Staff Writer who wrote the story, can be reached at nancy.vogel@latimes.com. 

Glenn Sacks, www.GlennSacks.com

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