How Did We Get Here? (Part One)
Rift in the Black Community
If we consider African-American History over the past 400 years, it is possible to see where the psychological damage between the Black man and woman began. Long has the Black man been considered a critical element within Black communities, from leadership to strength—male characteristics that are constantly being undermined by systemic forces.
Slavery in America brought about division in Black homes. Slave masters raped Black women and either killed or auctioned Black men. Where Black men were auctioned, they were bred like animals to reproduce for the purpose of increasing the headcount of the field-hands. And to an even more horrific extent, were coerced into sexual perversions for the entertainment of slave owners.
This removal of the Black man from his home to fulfill the purposes mentioned above, is a historical example of:
· Black husbands separated from their wives; and
· Black fathers separated from their children.
It is necessary to consider the psychological evolution of the human mind as an individual is thrust into situations where they must adapt.
A male slave who is forced to sire children with multiple women, may eventually devalue relational commitment to only one woman. As a consequence of sustained exposure, sex is prioritized above having a committed relationship. Sustained exposure can be a catalyst for generational transference.
I remember a Black woman once sharing that the father of her children said, “My dad told me that a man should never turn down a woman.” Obviously, this a mentality that was passed down through the generations, and is an example of mental programming.
Some men do not realize that how they interact with women was directly and indirectly influenced by exposure to situations within the home, which include but are not limited to:
· Present/Absent fathers
· Emotionally-Detached mothers
· Domestic Violence
· Child Abuse
· Drug and/or Substance Abuse of parents/guardians
I have heard some men share:
· “My father wasn’t around growing up. So, I never knew how to treat a woman.”
· “My father was an alcoholic. He beat mom when he got angry.”
· “My father left us when I was little. He started another family somewhere else.”
· “I don’t know who my father is.”
Emergence of Independence
The female slave is left defenseless to the slave master’s attentions and to raise the children within the household. In the slave quarters, women band together to care for each other and the young.
Orchestrated division between the sexes catapulted women into independence. They realized that survival must occur despite the absence of the Black man in the home. Black women assume many of the duties traditional to men, in addition to female responsibilities. In some extreme cases, these women only had the powers of a more intimate nature to get money, food, clothing, and other resources.
Keep in mind that from slavery to Civil Rights, Black people had few options to make money through honest means. My grandfather told me that during the 40’s and 50’s, he and his brothers had to walk 20-miles to work on fields only to get paid $0.25 per day. He would eventually join the military to support his family.
As men were called away to WWII, women were left in charge of all household duties. Women also entered the workforce in large numbers while Black women specifically, obtained occupations cooking and cleaning other peoples houses. The experiences further increased independence among women.
Psychological Impact on Child Development
Few events occur within a vacuum. The mentality and behavior of a people change in respect to environmental influences.
Keep in mind that all the while a parent is doing this or that, their children are watching. When those same children become adults, they decide what is important and what their willing to endure.
Exhibitions of perseverance through struggle ultimately pass onto younger generations, empowering especially some young girls to behave in a fashion similar to their mothers upon reaching adulthood.
Have you ever heard a woman state any of the following?:
o “I’m not going through what my mother went through.”
o “I’m not getting married.”
o “I’m not having children.”
o “I’m not dealing with a broke man.”
Some young men who witnessed their mothers entertaining different men (e.g., as a means for survival), matured believing a woman’s only value is sex. The absence of husband/father deny sons the opportunity to learn how a responsible and loving husband/father should treat a woman, not to mention be a respectable and responsible man.
Nevertheless, bad experiences can be counteracted by positive influences that are able to reshape values, and instill dignity and respect. Sources positive influences are found in:
· the involvement of grandparents who instill family values, dignity, and respect;
· the engagement of positive male and female role models;
· seeking counseling and therapy;
· joining a church and growing spiritually; and
· the impact of teachers.
It really does take a village to change a generation and overcome adversity.