The Role Of Family Formation In African American Culture

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Crystal Sherriff The formation of families will always be a topic worthy of discussion as it is one the most important systems in our society. Family is a very important factor in the development of an individual so one must start from the beginning and cross examines the influencers of family formation. In our society we are plagued with low marriage rates and high divorce rates, especially within the African American community. In even worse shape are African American women, who have the lowest marriage rates out of all their white counterparts and African American men (Hattery-Smith, p.39). It leaves researchers with the question why the institution of marriage isn’t going as well as it once was and what factors are attributing to the…show more content…
One of the major factors contributing to the change of marriage in the United States is the economy. The transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy definitely impacted the formation of the family forever, especially for African Americans. As our economy changed so did gender roles; which is another agent in family formation. Though women didn’t enter the workforce in vast numbers until 1970 or so (Hattery-Smith, p. 46), they have caught up and even passed their male counterparts in the African American community, causing conflict between the normality’s of American life and their own realties. Gender role differences aren’t the only reason African American men are being surpassed by their female counterparts in earnings, but because of incarceration rates. With African American men having the highest rates of incarceration they are not only unable to compete with women as wage earners, they are also hindering themselves a great deal when it comes to sustaining healthy relationships (Hattery-Smith, p. 49). The intent of this paper is to examine how economy, gender role ideologies, and incarceration have influenced family formation; which will forever change the visage of the African American…show more content…
In the past 30 years, the rate of marriage for African Americans has steadily declined while the rate of incarceration for African American men has sky rocketed. With more than 25 percent of the male community incarcerated the likelihood of maintaining healthy, stable relationships is greatly reduce (Western, 2006; Hattery-Smith, p.49). This greatly influences family formations as it automatically pushes the mother to a single parent status while simultaneously raising the chances of the family falling under the poverty line significantly. Men who have been jailed find it extremely difficult to find employment once released, especially employment that pays a living wage; which is clearly demonstrated in the interviews involving Chris and Wanda (Hattery-Smith, p. 55). Incarceration rates take a direct hit to the male marriageable pool leaving no room to doubt its

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