I believe that we must revisit history as we examine the family structure of Blacks in America. An absentee father was the norm for the African-American family. Families were separated by force! Slavery severely impacted the lives of the Black family. Considering the fact that our physical exodus from slavery has only been 140 years, that's not a long time, and we are still experiencing its effects. Blacks were forced to produce offsprings, not for themselves, but for their master's economic gain.
Today, Blacks are not forced to produce babies; however, because of the residual effect of slavery on the Black family, their offsprings continue to be an economic product for the modern-day master called "PRISON." Today, in 2008, Black males in prison are paid less for their labor than they were paid 140 years ago. Black men were not socialized as other men, that is, to be accountable or responsible for his family. In order to understand why the Black man and Black woman are having such challenges in their relationships, you must understand how their experience and living conditions in America have impacted their lives and the lives of their family. When a Black family needed assistance from Social Services' programs, the father had to remove himself from the family in order for his wife and children to get assistance. Black men have a long way to go to get back to their African roots of being a provider and protector.
Black men have come a long way, and they will get back to their God-Created-Nature, with the help of God, Almighty, and with the understanding of their past. The Black man, his wife, and his children all had to look to the white man for food, clothing, and shelter. In essence, the wife and children provided for themselves, they worked side by side with the Black man in the field from sun up to sun down. The Black man could not protect his family.
The white man pregnated his wife and daughters and there was nothing that the Black man could do about it, if he wanted a place to live and if he wanted to live. The white man positioned himself as the surrogate parents for Blacks giving them the illusion that he was their caretaker, while he abused them, molested their children and raped their women. He, the white man, was in charge. If the Black man did something to his wife and she felt he was out of order or which she considered was not proper treatment, she would tell the white man on her husband and he would talk to, punish or beat the Black man. As you can see the Black man could neither provide for nor protect his family. When Blacks were so-called freed from slavery, there was no economical provisions made for him to provide for his family.
Therefore, many of them had to continue to be beholding to their masters under the same harsh conditions. Some families were able to leave the plantations and move up North with family members to start a new life. Many men left their families behind; they left to secure a job and then sent back for their families. The Black man had to always pretend about something, he was not free to express his true emotions. He had to grin and pretend that he was happy in the presence of his master, because being unhappy was disturbing to the master.
Being unhappy equated to one possibly thinking for himself or just thinking of running away. The Black man could not show his feelings towards a woman for fear that the master would ship him or her to another plantation. You see, the white man knows the value, power and strength of being or having a sense of family unity; therefore, he did not want to see Blacks socialized to be an intact family unit. After all, being an ideal family for Blacks was not good for the white man's economy.
The Black man was not brought here to start a family; he was brought here for economic profit, to work for free and to produce as many babies by as many women as possible, so that he could deliver more workers for his master. Feelings and emotions were almost beaten out of the Black man. In fact, it was detrimental for him to express feelings and show emotions.
He was safer when he was a man of few words, for he knew the consequences if he was misunderstood when communicating. Black fathers passed their behaviors and experiences down to their sons as a safety precaution. Black men could only show emotions and feelings at church or at a funeral service, and during the time of intimacy with his woman or wife. During slavery, sex and family was the only enjoyment that was within economic reach for the Black man. Even today, 2008, sex is the only form of gratification for the average economically challenged Black man.
Sex becomes his pleasure, his tranquilizer, his drug, etc. As an escape from the pain, racism, and injustice, sex is like a safe haven. It's like returning to your mother's womb where there is comfort.Black men's emotions, feeling and dialogue are still guarded even in his relationship with his wife, because if either is misinterpreted, he is placed in the "dog house" and the one thing that he cherishes the most, "sex," is taken away from him; and he does not function well without it. Most Black men really want to be with their families and children. What they need is someone to be a father-like figure for them.
A Black man needs guidance. Most of them are trying to be something or somebody that they have never seen or experienced, and must be taught that. The woman's ideal of what a man is supposed to be is distorted because she too has not experience a father in her life. You see, a father is a role model for his son and a father gives definition to his daughter as to what a man is. A mother is a role model for her daughter and she gives definition to her son as to what a woman is.
70% of Black households are headed and ran by a female with the father most times being totally out of the picture. The sons and daughters are both confused about male/female responsibility. The son sees the mother as a nurturer and the provider.
All of his life he has been provided for by a female, his mother, grandmother, both females. Being cared for all one's life by a female is a familiar comfort, and this familiar comfort is what makes it easy for a male to allow and to feel comfortable having his woman/wife to take care of him, because that has been his experience. The daughter of the broken-home-experience her mother as the sole-provider; therefore, she takes on the role of her mother and she will accept a man into her life who does not have the means to provide for himself and she will have a baby with him. When the responsibility of providing becomes overwhelming, she lashes out at the one who she perceives as the blame, her man/husband. The male is now frustrated, insecure, and unsure of what to do. He now feels that she got what she wanted from him, a baby, and now that is the only person who matters to her.
He now begins to feel like the outsider, the insignificant intruder. When he can no longer take the pressure, he leaves or she leaves him or puts him out since she has the baby. The drama is on. He could not provide the help needed, when they were together and now he has to provide for himself shelter and she now expects more monetary support from him, than he could give while living with you. In the first place, you knew his financial status, and secondly, she made the decision to have the baby without his consent or permission. He is no longer allowed to have any relationship with his child.
If he is allowed to participate in his child's life, it must be on her terms only. When it becomes unbearable, he leaves the woman and the child behind. The real victim is the child. I am not casting blame on the Black woman. I am only pointing out the facts that are hindering the progress of the Black family. I believe that if we could get a perspective of the Black man, as related to who is who he was before coming to America and what America has made him become, then we would have a better understanding of our family dynamics and we can embrace each other and begin to value ourselves and our children again.
Copyright (c) 2008 Rosie Milligan.
Dr. Rosie Milligan is a publisher, author, literary agent, Founder of Black Writers on Tour, and motivational speaker. (www.milliganbooks.com and http://www.blackwritersontour.com.) Contact her at 323-750-3592.