What are your initial thoughts when you hear "Black Family?" Close knit? Dysfunctional? Baby Mama? Baby Daddy? Single Parent Household? Two Parent Household? Welcoming? Grandma serving as the Mother? Church Oriented? Non-Existent Father? Generational Poverty? Children out of Wedlock? Soul Food the Movie?
These things may be your first thoughts or they may not. When I first asked myself this question, my initial thoughts were Single Parent Household, Close Knit, Generational Poverty and Soul Food the Movie. Every black family DOESN'T embody these traits or situations but based on MY life experience this has been MY reality and maybe yours too. I was raised in a single parent household (for the majority of my childhood) due to the passing of my father, my family has always been close knit, we were never "poor" but we were never rich, and the movie, Soul Food reminds of how my family is like during the holidays.
Sidebar - My reasons on writing this piece isn't to make the Black Family appear in a bad light. My intentions aren't to judge anyone who didn't come from a "traditional" family structure. My goal is to shed light on a subject that isn't often discussed and be one of many voices of encouragement for building the Black Family.
Surprisingly (well maybe not to some), the Black Family used to be one of the strongest in the US back in the day. Unfortunately, things have changed over the years. You may ask yourself, “How did the Black Family become this way?” Some say it started back in the slave days when Masta forced the Black man out of his family. Some say it is because of our own doing. Other says it is due to Mass Incarceration of Black Men….The Decline of Black Marriage…Failed Government Policies…The Gentrification of Our Neighborhoods…Racial Inequality…Economic Oppression.
Many Black intellectuals have said one way to build a strong Black family is through marriage. Why? Because Black married couples tend to build more wealth on average compared to Black singles or Black cohabiting couples. Black kids with married parents typically do better in school, in regards to their behavior and academics. And Black marriage increases the likelihood that the parents will have a good relationship with their children.
Yeah, every marriage isn’t perfect, but I think it serves as a great foundation, where the whole family benefits economically, physically and mentally in a stable two-parent marriage. Historically, a Black “family” has been formed through the birth of a child rather than through marriage. According to the National Vital Statistics Report on Birth Rates performed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the birth rate for unmarried Black mothers was 70.9%. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ study on Marriage and Divorce, the marriage rate for Black people was 14.2%. Yikes…these figures are pretty alarming.
To me, Family is EVERYTHING. And the makeup of a person’s family truly impacts them throughout their entire life. Those impacts can influence the way you raise your children to even how your relationship is with your significant other. A strong family structure is essential to the reconstruction of the Black community and the upward progression of the Black race in America. Such structure will enable us to have a sense of community in our neighborhoods again, allow us to break the many generational curses that have affected us and empower our people to build wealth and leave a lasting legacy for their family and the generations to come.
Let’s start a positive and impactful generational cycle with building the Black family!!!