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Withering Family

By: princess onika auguste

Page 1, This an essay I did on Black families plan on turning into a scholarly article and submit it for academic publishing

                     Withering Family: The destruction of   The Black Family

  Many years ago our ancestors from Africa had been ripped from their homeland and placed and forced to work in a land that they did not recognize.  These African slaves were taken away from all what they knew. Away  from their friends, parents  and  children and  more  often  than  not   they never  to  saw them again.

 This separation of    these families has come down to the modern era. Many Black families are run by single black mothers. The black men are nowhere to be found. They are either in jail, doing drugs or dead. The family system has been broken down.  .These single black mothers are   being not only mommy but daddy too.   Many of our African American children come from a single parent family structure.  What is Family?  Family according to Eshleman and Bulcroft “is a kinship/structural group of persons related by blood, marriage or adoption; usually related to the martial unit and including the rights and duties of parenthood”. There is not   too much research on    the Black family especially those   African American families that would be considered successful families. Though there  are  a few  success  stories of African American Families  one  must not ignore  the fact   of the increasingly   numbers  of   black families  without  fathers.

             African American   families   during Slavery

  As stated before the destruction of   the black family started during slavery where the slave masters and merchants made sure that the African family was separated because once the slave was away from his family, his spirit was destroyed.  The  effect of  slavery  on Black families was  quite  clearly an  influence    of the  breakdown  of  families  in  the  African   American  community.   The lack  of  a  strong  father  figure  in the life of    a black slave child    has come down  as part  of the  cultural  psyche of  abandonment  present  in  modern  day   African  American  families and communities. According to Heather Andrea Williams “Slavery did not only inhibited family formation but made stable, secure, family life difficult if not impossible. Enslaved people could not marry legally in any American colony or state. Colonial laws considered slaves property and commodities, not legal persons who could enter into contracts and marriage was and is a legal contract. Until 1865 most African Americans could not be legally married. In the northern states like New York where slavery had ended slaves could marry but in southern states they could not. Enslaved families lived in fear of separation. Families were separated often through sale”   Slavery whether one wants to admit or not severely impacted the family.

                         Single Parent Families

    It  is  very obvious  that  slavery  had  a   horrible  effect on   the psyche of  black  families.  Black men would leave the raising of the children to the black mothers. The African American family because of slavery was on the edge of destruction.  Today because of this many black children are raise in   single parent homes. According to News one 72 Percent of Black kids are raised by single parents 25 percent US overall. What is a single parent family?  A single parent family is a unit where there is only one parent raising the children. Single parent families are on the raise in the African American Community.  Because of the raise in single parent families in the African American community, other groups have a negative perception on the black family.

 

   Many children of single parent families suffer from   lack of resources and many live below the poverty belt. Since 72 % of  black  kids are  raised  by single  parents  many of those  children  live  in communities  where there  is  lots of  crime. Though it may be assumed that all single Black parent families are poor that is sometimes not the case. While many    single parent families are   poor there are a limited few that are above the poverty belt.  Many of these    single  black families  are  headed  by  mothers Sara Mc Lanahan and Karen Booth state in their  article  “ that when compared   with two parent  families   mother only families  were   more likely  to  be  poor, to have  higher levels of  stress and  to have lower levels of social integration”. Economic insecurity the authors’ state   was high due to low earning capacity, lack of child support and meager public benefits.  The authors also state that children living in single   parent households were more likely   to become poor when they are adults and children of single parents are also more likely to become single parents also.   Children from Single black families are less likely to finished high school far less have a college degree. Many are also drawn to a life of crime. According to Booth and Lanahan anywhere there is a large African American community that consist of   largely single poor parents the crime rate in that community rises.

 

  Black Families and Social Class

 The African American upper and middle class families are seldom or one should state rarely publicize if ever. It is the    poor   black families that get publicize in the media. Many problems in the African American family can be attributed to social class rather than race or ethnicity.  The African American upper and middle class families as stated before are rarely known to exist. These families with two parents who have a stable marriage and have a high school education or above are more similar to the   dominant white family that exists. There is a negative perception that most African American families live below the poverty line and that most of the children are   either in crime, dead or jail but in recent years that perception has begun to change.     In   recent  years there   has been a  increased of   African  Americans   entering positions of   leadership in law, education, medicine  and business but the  number of blacks that are  unemployment  have overshadowed these achievements by the black community.  In order  for  these  negative  attributes   to stop overshadowing the positive attributes of African American family; the  black community  must be  educated on what must  be  done  to continue  these positive contributions  to society.

 

Black Families and Education

 In order for black families to improve their economic and social situation and to get where the dominant white majority is. The African American child and his parents must be educated. According to the U.S Bureau of Census “In 2003 79.6% of black males and 80% of black  females had completed four years or  more  of high school, in the same year 16.7 percent of black  males and 17.8 percent of black females had completed four years or more  of college. This number was double of the number in 1970”. Though these numbers are good; there is cause to be concern for the percentage of black females being educated is almost equal   that of black males being educated.  The educational attainment of African Americans influences    marriage patterns and the selection of a spouse or partner. The education level of   black   females and males have improved but black women are having difficulty in finding   husbands of the same educational level or of a higher education level than them. According to Richard E Ball and Lynn Robbins state that” many black men are having difficulty in adequately providing for their families and this leads    to difficulties in spousal relationships and satisfaction in their own lives.   The authors also states that martial difficulties can be attributed   to the disparities in education, with women marrying less educated men and the low sex ratio issue, whereby black women have a more restricted   field of eligible partners than   white women.”

 

       Self Image

In Maya Angelou’s autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; she states that she wished that she was white little girl with blond hair and blue eyes. This is an example of how    some black children   feel about themselves. Black children grow up in a society that encourages   feeling of inferiority and degrading of self worth. Black children when growing up often act out the societal prejudices given to them.  In spite of  this blacks  have   a positive  self  image according to Michael Hughes  and David H Demo “ when comparing  black and white  self esteem, there was  no difference between the level of self esteem  between  whites and  black and  in fact  in some cases  blacks had  higher self esteem  than whites” Despite  the negativity   and prejudices of self  image on blacks. African Americans    retained a    good   self image of their self. This  can be contributed  to  according to Tom Luster “ that over  the past few  decades  black  organizations and  social  interactions   have served  to bolster  self pride, esteem and  identification   with blackness and  appreciation  of  black culture and life. Also black writing and poetry have  portrayed  the   concept of inferiority as  false and lastly, the family, the church, friendships and general social interactions  provide positive  support systems  that  influence blacks  self evaluation.”             The African American   family, church and community help influence the positive self image in   black children which is not suprisely suicide rates among blacks are not as high like the suicide rates of whites. According to the US Bureau    of the Census the suicide rate was 10 percent among black males and 19.1 percent in white males and in females white suicides were 4.3 and in black females 1.8. Note this was the 2000 Census    Though more often than not blacks do have a   positive outlook; there are clearly these times where blacks do not have a positive image.

 The Upper and Middle Class Black Family

This division of the black family community has been largely ignored because as stated they are more similar to the dominant white family. Social Scientists, educators and  the media  have   often  ignored  this category  of  the black family because  they  cause less problems  ,are  more likely to conform, are better educated and to not   affect  anyone. According to Ann Creighton Zollar and J Sherwood Williams “generally married black people   tend to be happier with their life and more satisfied than unmarried black people. Also according to the authors  married   black couples are  more likely than  single parents to be middle class or  upper class; males are more likely  to have more stable employment and assume an active   role  in decision  making and child  rearing  responsibilities .”         The Upper and Middle class black  families as  stated  before   has been largely  neglected by social scientists, educators and media and pop culture. You   rarely see a successful  black family on television   with exception of the Cosbys on the Cosby show, the Winters family on The  Young and    The Restless  just to  name a few.

Historically these  upper and middle class  black families were  according to Elizabeth I Mullins and Paul Sites “ were descendants  of families charactizeried by antebellum  freedom ( before the Civil War) freedom, lighter skin, urban resistance and  higher educational and occupational attainment”  It is worth to  note than  in  this type of family the father plays a  more  dominant role and the children identify with him.

 

  Conclusion

 Though there is an upper and middle class black family, they only constitute of a small minority in the black community. In the black community there is    an increasingly population of black children without fathers and growing up in single parent families and living below the poverty line. Unless something is done drastically the rate would continue and there will be more black children   indulging in crime. One must also     that when coming up with a solution to solve this problem   we must remember the role that slavery had in the breakdown of the black family. Because slaves lost their identity, roots and culture and were not allowed   to settle down, black families have retained this type of feeling of being rootless, unable to identify   and many children grow up without   fathers and sometimes mothers. The black father like the black slave leaves plenty of children with difference mothers only difference the black slave had no choice. In order to get more fathers and black families to stay together and heal we must address the issues of slavery, poverty and social class because one leads to the.               

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