THE AFRICAN FAMILY AS THE FOUNDATION

By Dr. Conrad W. Worrill (September 15, 2000)

The crisis of the African family continues to be a major issue that we must address. Several years ago Newsweek Magazine featured a comprehensive examination of African family life in America focusing in on "A World Without Fathers – The Struggle To Save The Black Family."

This beautifully packaged series of articles on the African family in America contained important data and trends we should all be aware of. These articles fell into the category of people outside of our community addressing an issue we should be addressing ourselves.

Since the early 1900’s, Black and white scholars have written much on the African family. When one examines the card catalogue of any library in America they will find volumes of books, articles, and newspaper clippings discussing some aspect of African family life. So we can add Newsweek’s feature to the list. Most of this research, over the years, has been aimed at the African family in America. What we need in the African community in America is a framework to examine and solve the problems of Black family life on our own terms.

The capturing of African people, who were placed in chattel slavery in North America, has left some devastating scares on the most basic unit or any group— family. There is no question that the family has been that unit that 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 reason. Families function in the context for their racial and ethnic identity, this identity, is shaped by the historical and external forces of a given society.

Although the problems of the African family in America appear to be very complex on the one hand, on the other, the problem is very simple.

First of all, 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 African 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 country.

This must be done, in part, through the rising and growing African Centered Education Movement. As renown, deep thinker, Dr. Jacob Carruthers explains, African Centered Educations should focus on the following:

  1. Advocates that restoring the historical truth about Africa is the priority for African thinkers (including Africans in the diaspora).
  2. Holds that there is a distinct universal African Worldview which should be the foundation for all African intellectual development.
  3. 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 African 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 African family life.

The family is the support mechanism for all that we do and it is sacred institution that we must preserve and protect on our own terms.

This should not occur on the terms of major features in the mainstream like Newsweek and other publications who seek to interpret and define who we are.

 
National Chairman
National Black United Front (NBUF)


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