“The unified Black family is a vital building block of a nation, keeping in mind that the ruin of a nation begins in the home of its people.”
There is nothing in the world stronger than a Black family that is well bonded. In society, there are so many distractions and negative images that ultimately destroys the Black family. Whether or not we know it, the Black family has always been under attack. Since the first Black slave that placed their feet onto this country’s soil, the Black family unit was separated to see that goal of the European’s economic desires were met. Africans have endured the worst kind of suffering through the loss of the family structure. As we progress into the 21st century is important that we look to the past as guiding force for us to subsequently change the future so we are able to help re-create the African family model. The unified Black family is a vital building block of a nation, keeping in mind that the ruin of a nation begins in the home of its people. In order to understand our challenges and the work that must be done to maintain our nation, let us briefly observe and study some important history and statics about marriage and divorce.
Blacks and Marriage
Marriage has always been a part of the Black Family dynamic. Prior to the 1960’s, African Americans age 35 and older were more likely to be married than White Americans from 1890 until sometime around the 1960s. (www.blackdemographics.com) However, after the 1960’s a new trend amongst African- Americans began to take form. In 1980 the number of NEVER married African Americans began a staggering climb from about 10% to more than 25% by 2010 while the percentage for White women remained under 10% and just over 10% for White men. (www.blackdemographics.com) this staggering turn of events leads one to wonder why such a drastic change? As we recall the 1960’s was regarded as a time for social change; Civil rights, women’s rights and the right to be free began to turn the country.
However, this change in American society began to effect the Black family. Politically, the southern strategy began to alter the landscape of geo-politics and the newly re-structured Republican Party sought out to paint the Black man as something evil, heinous and if not controlled, he would become a menace to society. The war on poverty, the war on drugs and the Reagan sentencing act reform bill of 1984 started to take its toll on Black men. Due to these stringent laws and campaigns, we can see the relationship of the increase of NEVER MARRIED Black women and the number of black men that happen to have been incarcerated.
According to our current news media, we are all made to believe that Black people make terrible choices and all of our travails and problems are due solely to our personal responsibility, when in fact it is the system of white supremacy in which we reside under which has caused much of the malaise of the Black family. Our current mentality has lead us to believe there is little to nothing that we can do to change our plight. The new normal has been accepted and a hope for the unification of the Black family is a pipe dream. However, the only way to repair and restore the Black family is to use our power of love, generosity and kindness to re-connect the relationship of the Black family.
In the African American community, divorce has always been high in number in relation to our counterparts. In 1890, (the first year census data has been available) the number of divorced women per thousand married women was 45 percent higher for African-Americans than for whites. (Besharov and West pg. 97) These numbers are small but again let’s look at the social atmosphere for African Americans. The Reconstruction period was a time where Black were left to defend for themselves and the true numbers were unreliable and invalid because who knew exactly if Black marriages were recognized by each parties locale. Not only was divorce highly stigmatized before the 1960’s, making it likely that divorces were unreported in early census years, but also at that time, “divorces” among rural African Americans were informal agreements or the de-facto result of a long standing separation. (Besharov and West pg. 97).
Blacks have always valued the sanctity of marriage and when faced with divorce, this was an issue that was taboo. Common law separation which is 4 times more that our White counterparts is also alarming. Again, are these numbers a true representation of our attitude towards marriage or does our social situation play apart in the troubling picture of a Black marriage? Dr. Frances Cress Welsing constructs a cogent model that best describes the hardships of Black social issues which covers marriage and divorce.
The model is titled, ‘Dynamic causation of Black “Teen Pregnancy” and Other dependency Deprivation Syndromes’. The beginning of the algorithm states the obvious problem of white supremacy/racism which causes low –level functioning for Blacks which can cause excessive environmental stress. The subsequent steps describes inadequate and inappropriate social system supports which the leads to failed family function, inadequate emotional supports for children and inadequate mothering and fathering.
The paradigm continues into the issues that plague the Black family social structure, but we can now see the simple causes and effects that have a strain on Black marriages. Now belies the question, how do we interrupt this cycle and re-create the positive Black family structure?
Black Marriage and Family solutions
As a Black married man and a Father, I took exceptional joy in writing this article. I have pointed out some statistics and given general overview on the Black family. I now would like to pose a couple of solutions on how to help restore the Black family.
1) Marriage- marriage only becomes an actual “union” if the parties involved have developed a relationship. There should always be open and honest dialogue that takes place before and after the marriage if it is going to last. A relationship built on lies, deceit, secrets and falsities will come back to haunt the marriage. There should also be a deep study into the Black community. Black couples should always consider how their relationship can affect the community if the marriage falters.
2) Children- Supreme mathematics tells us that Knowledge is man, Wisdom is women and Understanding is child. If you follow this logic you will see that the union of man and women produces love, which manifests itself by the existence of a child. Having a child should signal that the marriage has evolved to a level of understanding/love that can create space to bring another being into the world. Often times a child is produced out of lust or simply being plain irresponsible to satisfy the body’s biological desires.
When this happens the greater the chance of a child not receiving the total experience of a positive Black family model. This is in turn not only effects the child, it effects the community as well.
Before starting a family the parents must accept the full responsibility of parenting and must be willing to supply the child with plenty of love and care to help the child grow to be a responsible and contributing member to the black community and society.