Where is the Analysis on the Black Family during
Black History Month?
By Rachel Miller-Bradshaw
|Center for Disease Control|
As we remember and closely analyze the plight and progress of African Americans during Black History Month we should take a closer look at the current condition of the black family. The American black family, from its slavery inception to present day, is volatile and disturbing. Our community cannot expect any significant change if we do not address, on a grassroots level, the issues of the black family. The ideology that “a weak family structure makes a weak community” still empirically proves to be very true.
The Black Family in the United States was born into an oppressive slave regime. Marriages weren’t honored and could be broken up with a snap of a finger if one of the partners were sold to another plantation owner. The interesting ply is the fact that black families were more intact post slavery, including during the Reconstruction Era, up until the 1960s. In the 1960s American politician and sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan addressed the alarming increase in fatherless homes in a report titled “The Negro Family: A Case for Action”. E Franklin Frazier’s classic work The Negro Family in the United States, that involved tracking familial movements of black families throughout the United States, also proved how complex stabilizing the black family would be because of class, region, and socioeconomic status.
To date, the Black Family in the United States has experienced several social setbacks including the outsourcing of factory jobs held by low skilled black male workers, a welfare system that banned black fathers from being in the home, and the crack/cocaine epidemic that flooded American inner cities. Now in the 21st century, 8 out of 10 black babies in 2008 were born out of wedlock according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The honest truth is that the Black Family in the U.S. has become matriarchal in structure. It’s gotten so bad that it is just accepted as the norm-a dangerous reality to not reverse. The children of fatherless homes that turn to crime at higher rates, drop out of school in higher numbers, and for the males, have a higher family abandonment rate, displays that repairing the Black Family should be the new civil rights movement for the Black community.
Promising initiatives have already begun including fatherhood movements, marriage programs and governments legislations all dedicated to this movement. More of these initiatives need to be instituted by community activists. Healthy family promotion should be promoted more by parents to instill in the younger generation the importance of both a mother and father in the home. Constituents should also employ their local representatives to hold continuous forums to listen to the needs of families in their constituency-whether it be unemployment, mental health crisis and marital tensions. It will also be the duty of our local elected officials to institute parenting classes to assist parents in teaching their children core family values. Fathers, at a crossroads in their fatherly duties, should be embraced, supported and strengthened in order to rejoin their family.
As a community we have to also request that our hip-hop brothers and sisters promote the importance of stable homes in their music. At the root of this conversation should always be the message that wealth usually comes from partnership and this is the way to build up our communities. Our married elders must also lend a hand in advising and mentoring.
There must be a continued effort to repair this communal issue. It’s imperative to our future. It’s productive during Black History Month to honor our civil rights leaders, inventors, and artists but we must also review real pending issues in our community and execute how to solve them. So for future Black History Months we can look back at where the Black Family used to be and pride ourselves on how stabilized it’s become.