ERIC Number: ED285962
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1987-Mar-12
Reference Count: N/A
The Vanishing Black Family: Myth or Reality?
Banks, Ivan W.
Recent media reports have characterized the black family as vanishing and being replaced by institutionalized chaos, indifference, and "benign neglect." Journalists point to the high rate of teen pregnancies and the increased proportions of black families headed by single women, and describe black men as having little regard for the role of fatherhood. To rebut these myths and superficial portrayals, a study of black youngsters' perceptions of family relationships and responsibility in sexual behavior and early pregnancy was conducted. Questions were included to provide a basis for assessing the actual family structures that exist in the black community. Data were collected on 207 low income black students between the ages of 14 and 21. The findings suggest that subjects do reside more frequently with mothers, and consistently regard relationships with mothers as being more positive than with fathers or siblings. Nevertheless, the same data also reveal that strong, positive relationship continues to exist with fathers, even when the fathers are absent from the home. Other data support the observation that strong extended family networks persist in the black community. The black family is not vanishing; rather, the black family may be best understood as an integrated model which incorporates contemporary family patterns of single-parenthood with ancestral patterns of the extended family. It is therefore inappropriate to use a nuclear family model to evaluate or make judgments about the black family or to design government services for same. (KH)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Conference on the Black Family in America (14th, Louisville, KY, March 12-14, 1987).