Posts Tagged ‘African American Healthy Marriage Initiative’

I Am On a Mission, If It Kills Me I Will Effect Change

        I was MIA last week because I attended the AFCC conference in Denver, Colorado last week.  For those of you who are not familiar, the AFCC (Association for Family and Conciliation Courts) is a worldwide organization comprised of all professionals that work with families in custody, visitation, abuse or divorce matters.  Specifically, the members of the organization are psychologists, therapists, social workers, attorneys, judges, parent coordinators, parent educations and anyone else who has anything to do with providing services to families in conflict.  I attended the conference for several reasons, of course the main one being my profession, that had everything to do with the mission that I have been on for the past few years.  And although I learned a lot, the theme of this year’s conference was addressing “parental alienation“, most of what I learned had nothing to do with the theme. 

        You see one thing is very clear, though this was no epiphany for me, White families and Black families have very different core issues that impacts them.   I emphasize “core” because although money, health, conflict, etc. matters are ubiquitous amongst the races, the basis or impetus for our issues vary drastically from those of our White counterparts.  Let me give you an example,  in many of the workshops that were presented, which all had something to do with parents who deliberately and maliciously brainwash their children against their non-custodial parent which is typically the father, all of the speakers centered their discussions on the presumption that only divorced or separating parents have children and therefore alienate them.   The whole time I am there, I am wondering if anyone, ANYONE, will highlight, mention or even state in passing that children are a product of never married parents also and they too are alienated.   So I am baffled because I was also thinking, on the one hand these are some of the same experts who are quick to assert that the number of children born to unmarried parents have surged since the 90’s, paying special attention to the fact that Blacks comprise a huge percentage of that group.  While on the other hand, they seemed to oblivious to this fact, almost convincing us that we are all equal in their eyes.  Now many of us will more likely struggle to see the optimism in this quagmire.  It is no coincidence, nor unconscious oversight, that out-of-wedlock children, specifically Blacks, were not included.   Not by a long shot, it was an intentional objective of this group to only address how the White population is affected by this pernicious behavior, all  in an effort to find favorable resolutions to all that ails them.

        But I did not let that dissuade me, not at all.  On the contrary, I am more determined to pursue my mission and ensure that each one of us do our part.  We just have to take an approach that is tailored to our needs.   The African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (“AAHMI”) is having their 5th Annual “Research to Practice” conference at Hampton University this month and I am certain to attend.  (Go to aahmi.net for the details.) This conference is sponsored by the Administration for Children and Families and aims to encourage more research on issues germane to the Black family.   So if any of you feel where I am coming from, you should make it your business to attend.   If they don’t want to provide answers or solutions for us, then we should take the initiative and do it for ourselves, the future of our community depends on it.

Advertisements

Black Marriage Day: A Celebration Of Black Marriages

I think this is awesome! a day to celebrate, acknowledge and highlight the Black married couples throughout the country.  This is a concept we need to spread like wild flowers, let everyone you know so they can tell somebody and so on and so on and so on…March 28th, 2010.  The founder of Wedded Bliss Foundation, Nisa I. Muhammad founded this day eight years ago to celebrate Black marriage within our community. (go to http://www.blackmarriageday.org and weddedblissinc.com)

The statistics indicate that marriage in the Black community is at an all time low, approximately 32%, less than half of what it was back in the 1970’s.  Furthermore, almost 70% of Black children born in single parent homes, most of them headed by single women.  To make matters even worse, younger couples within the Black community prefer to cohabit over marriage, also opting for having children out of wedlock.  Many believe that Black marriage is not the “trend” anymore speculating that it is more of a “White folks” thing.  These propagandists blame the media, rap music and lack of spirituality for this predicament.  Not that there is no validity to this, I believe that the media certainly plays a major role, but I also think many of us are to blame.  Black women blame Black men for their plight, Black men will not accept responsibility for what ails our community and so many of them run, and so the cycle goes on.

We need to talk long, hard and often about what the benefits of marriage are and why we should encourage our youngsters, our single, professional Black women, our Black men and unmarried parents to consider marriage as a viable option.  Although a  fairly recent Gallup poll, indicates that many Blacks between the ages 19-35, would like to get married and consider marriage to be a very significant part of life there are far too many who “shack up” instead with their “baby mama” or ‘baby daddy”.  So all hope is not gone, we can spread the word now and keep it going.  According the the Institute for American Values (www.americanvalues.org), some of the benefits of marriage include:

-increased financial and economic status, since both spouses are more likely to work as opposed to their White counterparts;

-Black men in particular seem to improve in health, physically and psychologically, when they marry;

-Black children tend to benefit more from marriage, even moreso than cohabitating parents, since married parents tend to take the health, education and psychological well-being of their children much seriously than non-married parents

-Black male offspring tend to be more confident, do better in school and have minimal behavioral issues leading to delinquency when they live within a home where their parents are married

-married Black couples are more likely to be supportive of each other, their children and their community

These benefits, plus many that we can see for ourselves we do not need a study to confirm for us, i.e. that it encourages Black men to remain productive members of society, that it serves as an example and encouragement for young Blacks to see marriage as a viable option and that it serves to minimize many of the negative stereotypes society has placed on us, can be used as selling points to all Blacks young and old as to why we should marriage should be the chosen path for long-term relationships.  I say long-term because we don’t want young people getting married just for the sake of having a party to show off the ring, dresses, etc.  Because just as the number of Black marriages decreased within the Black community, divorces within our community has increased to an astronomical degree.

We can all do something, we can tell everybody we know about the celebrations that are being held on March 28th all over the country to celebrate Black Marriage Day; we can get on board and promote, get active and support the initiatives being made by the African American Healthy Marriage Initiative (www.aahmi.org) as well the local efforts being made; most importantly we can support each other and appreciate what we can do to change our attitudes about each other.   I think once we start to listen to each other, respect our differences and move past them to actually do something about it we will inspire change.