The Black Family

Why is the African-American society still experiencing economic and social problems? Examine one possible cause. Support with statistics from periodicals, text, etc.

The Black Family

The dream of Martin Luther King Jr. was primarily composed of two parts. On one side we have liberty: the right to vote, the right to free speech and assembly, etc. These issues were addressed in the Civil and Voting Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 and subsequent laws. However, the second part of the dream, a dream of respect and equality, have yet to come true. In many ways this continued subordination is the result of unemployment and familial decay within the black community.

The primary problem within the African-American society is continued high rates of unemployment. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States 1994 which is published by the US Department of Commerce, eight percent of all black citizens of employable age are unemployed. Lack of employment leads to lower family income. The median income of black families in 1993 was $21,161. A full third of all black families nationally are at or below the poverty level i.e. less than sixty percent of black families bring home more that twelve thousand dollars a year. The result of unemployment and low income is a greater frequency of double-income families and single parent families. Single mothers make up over thirty percent of all black family heads. Under these conditions, children suffer from a lack of parental supervision which leads to lower grades, increased sexual activity and lower self esteem and identity.

Children from lower income black families attend elementary school in roughly the same proportion as white children. However, by the time these kids reach middle school, economic pressures are mounting. They feel the need to escape the low level socio-economic situation in which they grew up. For many, gangs or drugs is an easy way to gain not only money but also the acceptance that is lacking at home. Many feel forced to drop out of school. This lack of education leads to fewer marketable job skills thus lower paying jobs which leads to the continued cycle of economic strife and family trouble.

These occurrences in the black community echo those occurring nationwide among all the races. Only when we recognize that family is the greatest influence on children, will things get any better for our young people. In the words of Bernard Davies a commentator and freelance author,

"Far from challenging the world around them, they [under-privileged children] seem personally and socially incarcerated; their talents are consistently underrated, their vision constricted, their most personal modes of expression stifled. Each self image they have created for themselves has been repeatedly deflated, all futures prematurely and permanently foreclosed."

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