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How to make a mockery out of slavery

ENDURANCE: Strong black families have endured despite slavery and separation

THE CURRENT racial outrage in the United States, is the right-wing document, The Marriage Vow - A Declaration of Dependence Upon Marriage and Family suggesting that black families were better off during slavery than in a post-Obama U.S.

The document was signed by at least one Presidential candidate. And though the offending passage has now been removed from the document “after careful deliberation" the suggestion is still out there and one that we have to deal with.

The crazy premise is that, as abhorrent as slavery was, a black child was still more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household back in those days, than that same black child would be today.

I don't need to go into why the suggestion is flawed and ignorant of the circumstances of enslavement or indeed the impact of post traumatic slave syndrome on black families today. But it's worthwhile examining the endurance and survival of the black family unit under such inhumane circumstances as enslavement or even famine.


The humiliation, torture and rape of one's spouse during slavery times is bad enough. But to see your children in bondage must be more than any heart can bear. Many committed suicide and filicide when the burden was too much. And yet they built an institution of family that endures today.

An institution that proved stronger than the chains that held them and continues to be the backbone of the black community, whatever else is going on.

Those are the ties that bind us. Family rather than marriage. Till today African-American brides and grooms acknowledge this at their weddings with a ceremonial 'jumping the broom', a tradition handed straight down from their enslaved foreparents who weren't allowed to marry in those times.

So let's talk about family rather than marriage. Our family structures don't necessarily depend on marriage, let alone monogamy. Could (God-help-us-if-she-becomes-President) US congresswoman Michele Bachmann sign her name to a statement suggesting that there are more absent fathers in the black family today than when its members were being sold willy nilly across the United States never to see their brothers and sisters and children again? No, I don't think so.

To see the resilience of the black family, you only have to see the television pictures of black mothers and fathers who have trekked through the desert without food or water in the Horn of Africa to try and save their children from death. We should be paying them for giving us the faith.

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