Since the early 1900’s, Black and white scholars have written
much on the Black family. When one examines the card catalogue
of any library in America, one will find volumes of books, articles
and newspaper clippings discussing some aspect of Black family
life. What we need in the African American community is a framework
to examine and solve the problems of Black family life on our
The capturing of African people, who were placed in chattel slavery
in North America, has left some devastating scars on the most
basic unit or group — the family. There is no question that
the family has been that unit which provides the basic foundation
for any group of people to survive and develop. Families constitute
grandmothers, grandfathers, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters,
uncles, aunts and in-laws. Sometimes families extend beyond blood
relatives to those persons we bring into our families for whatever
Families function in the context of their racial and ethic identity.
This identity is shaped by the historical and external forces
of a given society. Although the problems of the Black family
appear to be very complex on the one hand, on the other, the problem
is very simple.
First, African people who were captured and introduced into
the western hemisphere as property and commodities were removed
from their land and institutional arrangements of African life.
Second, this process of white takeover of Black life, through
the most brutal form of oppression, the slave trade and the
eventual enslavement of African people on the plantations of
North America, has been a back-breaking experience for our people.
Even though our survival techniques have been superior, in the
face of brutal psychological and physical violence against us,
we are now at the crossroads. We face the challenge of preserving
some of the traditions of the Black family, developed by our ancestors,
who fought so hard against racism and white supremacy in this
This must be done, in part, through the rising and growing African
Centered Education Movement. As our renowned ancestor and deep
thinker Dr. Jacob H. Carruthers explained, African Centered Education
should focus on the following:
- Advocates that restoring the historical truth about Africa
is the priority
for African thinkers (including Africans in the Diaspora).
- Holds that there is a distinct universal African World View
be the foundation for all African intellectual development.
- Involves the massive education or rather re-education of
the African people
of the world from an African perspective in the interest of
African people and
directed by African thinkers. It is a necessary pre-condition
for the freedom
of the African mind and subsequently African liberation.
We must not abandon family life. It is the basis for our survival
and development. It is the strategy of our white oppressors to
place so much pressure on us that we give up our fight for independence
and freedom. When the family unit begins to wither away, we must
rise to the occasion and fight to keep its basic elements alive
in our communities.
It is the duty of all Black people to understand that we are
faced with a genocidal set of circumstances in America. Look around
our communities and what do we / you see? We witness the absence
of that fighting family spirit among us that has been so much
a part of Black family life. The family is the support mechanism
for all that we do and it is a sacred institution that we must
preserve and protect on our own terms.
BC columnist Conrad W. Worrill, PhD, is
the National Chairman of the National Black United Front (NBUF).
here to contact Dr. Worrill.