Tuesday, December 28, 2004

In Search of the Black Family We Once Knew...

My cousin raised an interesting point as it relates to the demise of the Black Family and the prevalence of absentee fathers and single mothers in our community. I’d never looked at the situation from this perspective, but I have to admit that it makes sense.

My cousin points the origins of the problem to slavery. During that time, a Black man’s purpose was to work and breed babies who would then be used for labor. The responsibility of raising those children and being a husband was seldom his role or his right. My cousin suggests that this sad tradition is among the many lingering “side effects” of slavery that have become so embedded in Black culture that it is difficult to break the cycle. The end result is what we see today.

Of all the psychological analyses of the Black Family that I’ve been exposed to, this one really struck me. I never wanted to believe that so many of the men in my culture were just lazy, no-good sperm donors who squirt their goods into as many snatches as they can without so much as a thought about the number of kids that might result. But could the baby-mama/baby-daddy syndrome truly be a vicious bi-product of slavery?

It certainly makes sense when you consider that Blacks have spent more time in this country as slaves than as free men and women. There are many in my generation with great grandparents who were slaves as children. So, we can’t actually profess to be as far removed from those days as some would like to think.

And considering the fact that Black men aren’t inherently evil, lazy or irresponsible by nature, there’s got to be something we can point to as the culprit. I think my cousin may have hit the nail on the head.

Far too often these days, you hear about the fact that there are so many more Black women than there are Black men, and that us women need to learn how to “hang in there” with our men if we plan on having a mate. That’s true, but only to an extent. We shouldn’t “hang on” to shitty relationships that will never be right. Nor should we allow the excuse of “there are so many women for every man” to somehow justify shitty actions like unfaithfulness and disrespect in a relationship because we are afraid of being alone.

But where’s the point of compromise? Certainly, there is some degree of accountability on both sides of the equation…or at least there should be. But for some reason, both sides are content with pointing the finger at the other. All in all, nothing changes. And confused people just end up raising more confused children who grow into even more confused adults.

Are Black men and women slowly moving in opposite directions? Is there anything we can do about it? My cousin’s outlook only provides some background data on the potential origins of the problem. But what is the solution? I can’t figure it out, and I guess nobody else can either or I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

The conversation with my cousin caused me to do some inner soul searching about my capacity to “deal” in a relationship. My cousin suggests that men marry the woman who “hangs in there” with him. So does this mean I’m supposed to just wait on him to finish acting like a fool so we can be happy? My name is not Cookie Johnson, and I’m not interested in going through a lot of the bullshit I’ve seen some sistas go through these days.

I’m not interested in hanging onto a man who dips his thing like it’s an oreo in some milk. There was an article in this month’s Essence (the one with Vivica Fox on the cover) that said that out of all the African American men who participated in a survey, at least 40 percent of them admit to carrying on multiple sexual relationships for an average period of more than a year! They called it, "the new man sharing." Considering the fact that the husband I’ve always envisioned is a Black man, does that mean I’ve got to put up with crap like that? The statistics for White men in this survey were far less frightening. But, like I said, I’ve always envisioned a Black man as my life partner.

I guess the real question I’m trying to find an answer to is…how do we bridge the gap that seems to be growing between Black men and Black women? We used to be all each other had, and it would be nice to, once again, see ourselves as partners and not enemies.

And since there is such a prevalence of absentee fathering and single mothering, how do we, as women, raise Black men to truly be MEN? I know I don’t have the first clue about what it takes to be a Black man in this society…despite how many examples I can point to that demonstrate what a tough road they face. I can certainly surround my future son with positive male role models, but if they’re not my husband, their involvement can’t be as in-depth as it needs to be. So, how would I be able to buffer my need for nurturing with my son’s need for strength? I’m not trying to suggest that a woman can’t raise a productive man. We have too many examples that prove otherwise. I’m just saying they shouldn’t have to face such an enormous responsibility on their own.

Okay, I’m rambling now which only shows how confusing all this is to me. However, the deeper I get into my 30s and the closer I get to wanting to be married and have kids, the more I think about stuff like this. It’s starting to seem like the Black Family that I knew and loved, the one I was raised in, is as much a fairy tale as Hansel and Gretel. And it’s just sad…

Somebody help a sista out with some insight… Brothers, your comments are especially appreciated.

32 Comments:

At 8:20 PM, Blogger o said...

Read that Essence article as well, sis. It made me think (as usual). I'm not really sure about this man sharing thing. I know it's happening in the church as well and it scares me.

Oh, I changed my blog's url. it's now solitaireredux.blogspot.com

 
At 1:29 AM, Blogger Jdid said...

Interesting blog. Not sure what we can do to bridge this gap but you are right we are going seperate ways and at the moment I'd even venture to say we appear to be on different sides

Oh and the slavery thing as a reason for the behavior of black men is probably part of it but i'd say its not a very big part so we cant use that as an excuse right now.

 
At 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting views. I don't have an answer to this problem either, particularly as a white man. I would offer my view of a piece of the puzzle: education such as is demonstrated by your writing capabilities. This is a key to maturity. A culture that encourages education, and a large reduction in the amount of negative rap lyrics, is where we need to be. I'm not sure how to get there, but my guess is that fidelity and the number of black children with both parents in the home would increase..

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Rod said...

Comment from a Brotha.
Slavery is only part of the problem. What about welfare? You CAN'T be a family, and be on welfare. During the depression, families split so that the woman could get welfare and raise the children. If I was a dude then, I would feel unwanted, and replaced by the government. But I digress ... I have thought about this same topic for a long time. And when I come across a brotha with “that” type of mentality, I ask where he's from, 9 times out of ten, he or his parent (note no S on the end of parent) was raised in a major city, and Daddy wasn't there, or didn't care.
Now my family came from Oklahoma, and farming areas in California. No one has ever been on welfare, and no one has have ANY kids out of wedlock, no one has been divorced, and most of us go to CHURCH. I am NOT a special case. All of the friends I grew up with were the same, and are married with children that all have one mother
Out of everything that I've mentioned, the most important thing is having a Daddy who is a husband for every growing boy AND girl. Everyone knows that children learn by example, so if a child sees a successful marriage, that child will learn how to have one as well, and should be able to treat women with respect and know their role in a family. If a boy doesn't have a father, who will teach him to be one? If a girl doesn't have a father, who will teach her to properly love a man WITHOUT sex? GOD did not make fornication a sin to be mean, marriage is a must before even coming close to having kids.
(Changing subjects) I believe a Black man's ego is the most sensitive and fragile things in this world, because it has been bruised and beaten for so many years we don't have much of an ego left. We have been told we are not human (slavery), should not be a husband or a provider (welfare), we are stupid and violent (news and media), and we should not respect ANYTHING (rap music and sports). In the words of Richard Pryor, “Its hard enough being a fucking human, but we gotta deal with this shit too!”
What I'm saying is this, kids need both Mommy and Daddy in a healthy relationship so they could have one to. The world can teach you to drive a car, read a book, shake that ass, put on a condom, talk slang, vote, whatever, but only Mommy and Daddy are gonna show you how to be Mommy and Daddy and how to be married.
Okay, I'm done now.

 
At 5:52 PM, Blogger JustMe said...

Rod, my brotha...

As always, your insights are right on the money! Thanks for being one of the numerous strong brothas in the world who handles his business and loves his woman. Now...help a sista find a duplicate quick before my biological clock stops ticking! :-)

Just kidding...you never find one by looking for one...at least that's what they tell me.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger ladyabena said...

Very interesting blog. I am new to this and it is nice to see someone get to serious issues by expressing personal issues. I am a white woman and in University my senior research examined how slavery and eugenics impacted relationships. It had caused deep rooted damage. This is not to say that it can't be overcome but the social constructions of our society and the institutions and attitudes continue to perpetuate and support negative situations for the 'black' family. As a strong woman one of my reco's is to see that you are dealing with the complexity of the added dimension of being in a time when we are changing the model of the family. The nuclear 'white' model of the family was socially constructed to oppress womyn. With financial and sexual independence womyn are stepping out of this mold. To go back to the holistic model of the family in this eurocentric society is an almost defeasted challenge. I am not suggesting it is impossible, only raising the added complexity that makes it near impossible. The important thing I think is to realize all that is going on and that some of these complexities are bigger than the individual. Although we may not have the answers the one answer that I have discovered is that we must focus on loving ones self. Having that strong foundation will enable us to deal with all of the other challenges in life. May you all be blessed to be smart enough to see what's going on and how much love is all around you.

 
At 1:12 PM, Blogger ladyabena said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:22 PM, Blogger JustMe said...

Hey Ladyabena,

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your insights. Hope to see you here again soon.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Rod said...

Thank you for the flattering complement. As for finding a good man, I know a few way out here in Cali, but that's not gonna help you much. By the way, I like to get serious on your blog. It gives me the freedom to be Nucking Futs on mine.

 
At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The main problem facing the black community is:

1.Racisim

2.Feminism

3.Capitalisim

Women don't want equality they want thier cake and eat it too. The black women left the "black is beautiful movement" and joined the white women's crusade for "womens rights" and left the black men to go it alone. The government and media supports this by pandering to women because they know that a women is a mass consumer and will buy everything in sight; fake nail, weaves, you name it.

This keeps the fat cats wallet padded very nicely.

They figure that if they keep giving women i.e black women good jobs while discriminating against black men that eventaully all the blacks men will just give up and kill themselves by using drugs, sex, prision, highblood pressure etc.

Black women routinley play along and support the racist government view of black men. Black women (who should be sticking by her man)
Has abbandoned him to the racist ideaology and greed that festers hate between black men and women.


All the while blaming black men for leaving the family when it is they who left first.

Black women wake up; are be prepared to spend the rest of your time on this earth alone with your cats!


Blackoliver'

 
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