Strengths of Black Families Essay

This essay has a total of 734 words and 4 pages.

Strengths of Black Families


The African-American family is defined as networks of households related by blood,
marriage, or function that provide basic instrumental and expressive functions of the
family to the members of those networks (Hill, 1999). It is one of the strongest
institutions throughout history, and still today. Family strengths are considered to be
cultural assets that are transmitted through socialization from generation to generation
and not merely adaptations or coping responses to contemporary racial or economic
oppression (McDaniel 1994; Hill 1999). This definition is contrary to the belief that the
Black family is an adaptation to harsh conditions, instead of an ongoing establishment.
Hill (1999) discusses some of the qualities as effective for the survival of black
families: strong achievement and work orientation, flexible family roles and strong
kinship bonds, and strong religious orientation. These strengths, along with others can be
emphasized in schools and used to motivate African-American students to succeed.

Contrary to what many people may believe, African-Americans have a strong motivation
towards achieving. From the parents to the children, there is a strong orientation for
wanting to learn and get ahead. Research has shown that black children have educational
and occupational aspirations that are often equal to, and sometimes higher, than white
children (Stevenson et al. 1990; Winfield 1991b; Hill 1999). African-American parents and
students need help in turning this motivation into a reality. Teachers can take the
aspirations of many black students and prompt them to better by having high expectations,
regardless of race and class. Building upon not only the intellectual achievement, but
also the self-esteem of black students can also help strengthen their achievement. Many
studies have revealed that high self-esteem is strongly correlated with subsequent
achievement orientation and upward mobility (Hill, 1999). The attitude of significant
others (parents, peers, and teachers) toward a child is an important source of self-esteem
among black children (Taylor 1976; Gibbs 195; Hill 1999). In school, teachers can
encourage interaction between themselves and the students, as well as the students among
each other.

The flexibility of family roles is important in African-American culture because it
contributes to the stability and advancement of numerous black families (Hill, 1999). This
ability to adapt to many roles may lead to equality between husband and wife or whoever
the caretakers in the home. Sex-specific socialization patterns are dominant in the
Euro-American culture and lead to a mostly inferior attitude by white females. In the
African-American family, even though there are many egalitarian patterns, the black mother
is a lot of times the strongest figure. They are equal to their husbands in that they
share work responsibilities inside and outside the home. In the classroom, these strengths
can be used to motivate the equal learning of all students. Male and female students
should be held to the same standards and expectations. The tradition of flexible family
roles should make the students feel like they can aspire to whatever they want, regardless
of gender expectations. Strong kinship bonds throughout the make-up of the
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