The Black Family Movement

New Rule: Black people cannot talk about a movement of any form until we heal our families.

Have you or someone you know ever been asked about the status of your family and replied with a sigh because the answer was too complicated and required too many caveats? I know the feeling well and I am sure you can attest to this as well. But no matter how crazy and dysfunctional you think your family is, they are still your family and you could have it worse by not having a family at all. No one to baby-sit your kids, take you to work, and of course, borrow money without “really” having to pay it back.

And while many of us claim that we are close to our family, have you ever thought about why? On Christmas Day, I was doing volunteer work with some of my family and I asked my nephew to rate how close he thinks our family is on a scale of 1-10. He said 10 with confidence. And then I asked him how often he talks to family members outside of his household. He said I don’t. So I then asked him how he can claim that he is close to the family if he never talks to them. I don’t have to explain how the rest of the conversation went to say that even though my nephew is 13, how many people do you know that would answer my questions with almost the same twisted logic that my nephew used? Chances are that if you reading this blog, you probably have a cell phone. Look at your last ten dialed calls and tell me how many of those listed are members of your family.

I think it is unfortunate how many of us take advantage of our family members by not getting to know them on a deeper level and let them pass away with your relationship more affected by society’s distal labels of kinship (i.e. brother, cousin, Grandma, etc.) rather than a relationship that has been forged through the fire of life. Now I know there are some extenuating circumstances that make for familial relationships impossible but chances are, these circumstances don’t represent your entire family. And if they do, just think back to slavery and marvel at the hope and sincerity that remained while families were split apart and scattered across this country like dandelion seeds. We are a strong people because our families are strong and when families are strong, we empower ourselves and our community. Because here’s the thing, I don’t care what you been through as long as you are working towards healing family wounds and reaching out where you once were reluctant. So let me leave you with ten suggestions to help heal your family in 2006 because we here at Superspade believe in providing actionable information that is tangible and practical.

1) If you are reading this blog, then you probably have email. I am willing to bet your family members do too. Get their email addresses and make it happen. And don’t be afraid to email them at work if they don’t have a personal email address.
2) If someone owes you money and you can afford it if they can’t pay you back, let it ride. And if you owe someone money, try to pay them back if you can and if you can’t, be upfront with that family member so you don’t sabotage a relationship over money
3) Play the question game and just ask people questions that you always wanted to know but were too young or too scared to ask.
4) Play spades. Need I say more?
5) Don’t make a bigger deal out of gift giving than sharing time and love.
6) Many times families will meet up when food is involved but breaking bread doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. A veggie tray and some chicken will do you just fine.
7) Meet up with the family and scrapbook because you know the picture with your whole body covered in flour is hilarious
8) If you live too far from your family to hang out, you are not absolved from connecting to your family. Pick up a phone or email somebody. Seriously
9) If you have young people in your family, take them with you to do community service, go to their games, offer to baby-sit, and show them the right path.
10) And last but not least, the best reason is just because. This relates to everything from going out, visiting, calling, emailing, etc.

I know my suggestions will not end crime or give everyone a decent job with healthcare, but it will help us find our footing as a community and improve many of the issues that many of us think require a movement.

Stay up fam,

Brandon

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9 responses to “The Black Family Movement”

  1. Dumi says :

    Nice post. I have been thinking about family a lot as of late. Mainly for two reasons: 1) I recently found out that I am going to become an uncle and 2) I’m reading “They Tell Me of a Home” which is a great book about a Black family and its perils. Two things my family informally/formally took part in were deeper discussions during Kwanzaa (Umoja in particular) and that a number of folks in my family are reading They Tell me of a Home. Keep up the introspection and suggestions.

  2. Steve says :

    I totally agree. Family is where we often derive our identity and sense of purpose. I know for me personally, my family and their welfare has been a driving motivator. I feel your suggestions. I think we also need to bring back the respect for the elders. They give and have given so much, instead of expecting Big Mama to watch the kids or slide you some money, think of something you can do for them. It can be as simple as listen and finding out what they have experienced in the lives they have lived. Cherish the time and lets stop taking our fam for granted. It is as simple as just doing the work of connecting on a deeper level.

  3. kdsmooth says :

    Great post…black families need all the help we can get. Here is my blog and also post about similar issues. “One Brotha’s mind” http://onebrothasmind.blogspot.com/
    I’ve got you blog’s feed and will return and post further comments.

  4. Anonymous says :

    A wonderful post. Unfortunately, I think my family is too fragmented and disassociated to mend. I have made the trek (w/children) and all overtures in the past for family get togethers. In fact about 10 yrs ago, I arranged the only sibling photo we have ever taken. since then, I no longer extend myself, hence, no connection. I have been abandoned by my birth family. Mother, father (passed), sister and brothers (2 out of 5 molested me). At the ripe old age of 45, I’m tired and have given up all hope of ever seeing my mother and siblings again. I am the youngest. But, life goes on…whether you are alone or not.

  5. Anonymous says :

    I feel you anonymous. I too have been enstranged due to speaking up about being molested by a step-brother and uncle in the so called “black family.” Until mothers rear their sons to respect them so they will know how to respect other females; and their own children by not SCREWING THEM, until mothers teach their daughters to have positive self esteem about themselves so they won’t stay with a black man who will SCREW their children, and until fathers, mothers and the black community take INCEST SERIOUSLY, we are NOT COMING TOGETHER BECAUSE TOO MANY OF OUR CHILDREN ARE VICTIMS OF INCEST growing up with issues about relationships and the opposit sex. Women and children can’t walk the streets without getting RAPED,and families are ostracizing us victims for talking because our perpetrators are BLACK MEN. We cannot be effective healthy beings, our children cannot be safe and healthy developed beings due to our issues, and they won’t have a positive role model to rear their own children by. Until blacks get out of the president’s business and start acknowledging their own problems and deal with the purpetrators accordingly; the black family and community will continue to go straight to hell. I stay away from my family since I DON”T trust anybody who chooses to silence me and downplay what has happened to me. I will not live a lie to come together with HYPOCRITS, family or not. Nor will I live in denial for the sake of blackness, culture, racism or any other ism. Blacks need to face the fact we are our No.ONE PROBLEM. There will be nomore STRONG black families as long as INCEST takes place and our men aren’t called on the carpet. Playing the race card won’t get it and it has gotten OLD. If our perpetrators were WHITE MEN, Blacks would be trying to start a MARCH somewhere, but when black men rape us and our children, you get silent and you can hear a rat piss on cotton. No matter how young the victims, always remember, THE MIND RETAINS WHAT THE MOUTH CAN’T SPEAK ABOUT. And we eventually grow up and tell it. So blacks get over Coming together, It Ain’t Happening in this life time.

    Anonymous #2

  6. Anonymous says :

    Ever heard of the Million FAMILY March? In 2000, Minister Louis Farrakhan asked that the nearly 2 million men that showed up on the National Mall 5 years earlier come back to the Mall with their families. That “movement” has never stopped being in place, because without a strong FAMILY, the Black community is going no where.

    LM

  7. Brandon Q. says :

    What’s up LM,

    I appreciate your feedback and yes I have heard of the Million Family March. However, I am confused at the tension I sensed in your post because I think one main goal of the march was for people to take what they have learned, spread the word in their respective communities, and taking action where necessary. While I was not a participant of the Million Family March, I think my post and others like it was a continuation (certainly not the beginning) of making tangible the goals that were set forth in the March. We are on the same side LM, thanks for the comment.

  8. Brandon Q. says :

    What’s up anonymous number one and number two,

    I took a while to respond to the comments you guys made because my heart was heavy with what I can imagine the pain of being victimized and/or sexually abused by family memebers. I will be honest and say that I personally have no experience with the issues you two raised but I am committed to providing any solutions I can to help the healing process in our community. I can’t confirm if you two are Black women but both of your comments inspired me to find this book entitled Crossing the Boundary: Black Women Survive Incest by Melba Wilson http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1878067427/104-8119307-9436710?v=glance&n=283155

    I also found a book entitled The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060969318/qid=1137294839/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/102-6977305-1872911?s=books&v=glance&n=283155

    I think incest is one of the most vile crime an adult could ever inflict on a child and anonymous #2, I agree with you that Black person who perpertrates incest should be called on the carpet, which is why this issue is so difficult to pinpoint because what I gleamed from the comments is that the victim is often times shamed into silence. I think Black people should be more circumspect of ALL family members who they suspect might be capable of engaging in incest. And while I know there is not one set of characteristics that people can use to screen out family members, I am stumped as to what an effective set of solutions are that can help us eliminate incest for good.

    And the loss of hope I sensed in both posts is what really got to me. And as much as I would want to claim that I understand what you are going through, I am now aware of how incest weakens our community and how much silent pain must be countered by people speaking up and constantly searching for new ways to hold perpertrators accountable and help heal the victims.

    So to anonymous number two, you stated, THE MIND RETAINS WHAT THE MOUTH CAN’T SPEAK ABOUT. Because of your comments, my mind nor my heart will forget the pain and agony caused by incest. I will search for more solutions and I hope that you two will provide some insights as well. I believe in the Black family and your openness helped cement that belief.

    Stay up fam,

  9. Anonymous says :

    This is anonymous two again. Thank you for at least trying to digest what we are saying about incest. Most of the time we’re told to get over it and move on.
    What people need to know is when you see little children acting out in anger at a early age when you cannot understand why, it might be because they are struggling with something they don’t understand that is being done to them. I did not have the vocabulary at the time to think what was happening let alone say what was being done.
    No. 1. Grown ups like to talk about sex so get over pretending it’s a “touchy subject”. This is about a crime, injustice, dehumanization, civil rights violations, human rights violations, and any other violation of the childs mental capacity to process information being tampered with. I wasted so much money trying to get an education only to find out in adulthood after repressing it that I was never going to be a Financial Analyst since I could not retain the information. All I ended up with was student loans and a lot of interests to pay back. Trusts, lack of feeling secured, I don’t want any males in my home, I cannot sleep sound at night and have not slept in my own bed in 5 years, I need to stay alert at night, so I sleep in cat naps up and down, I don’t do relationships, can’t trust men. Would rather die than have to depend on one. No. 2 Men need to recognize their Patriarchial mindsent help women undervalue themselves just to be with them and tolerate anything even at the expense of their children. Women need self esteem since so many are rape victims as quiet as it’s kept; and welfare nor women did not drive the man out the house; abuse and molesting our children ran women out into the work force. If blacks ever GROW UP and tell the whole story, maybe we can start finding solutions. But with both living a traditional cultural lie, we AIN’t Coming together because SO MANY WOMAN DON’T TRUST MEN FOR THEMSELVES OR AROUND THEIR CHILDREN. NO 3. WOMEN INTERNALIZE another women’s assaults just as men internalize police brutality of another man. This is sad because a innocent man does not know why he is being turned down when approaching a women. It is long over due to deal with this issue because lots of us are only thinking about furthering our education to be able to survive alone. The next generation, if not taught honestly will loose out on marriage and family culture the way it is supposed to be. Incest has more negative effects but I have to go now. But thanks for trying to understand. It is not about us “running to the white man” it is about fear, security and low self esteem. Some drug and drink to try and forget. Why do you think so many young children are on drugs and alchohol? Black Folk cannot keep tip-toeing around this issue. Too much time has gone by already and two generations are LOST.
    Anonymous Two

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