These unprecedented and challenging times have provided us with an opportunity to re-evaluate our relationships, including those with family. Where possible, we have drawn upon the strength of family to negate isolation and social uncertainties.
Family is a basic unit in every society; however, the composition of the family is more complex to define. There is recognition that the "ideal family" is one subset of a diverse society. Nowhere has this been more marked than within the diverse multi-ethnic Black community. Black families are not all the same and, like other racial ethnicities, the geographical location, culture, religion and socio-economic status play a large part in the modeling of each family.
The historical challenges of the Black family from enslavement to present day are rooted in structural and institutional racism; this has served to delegitimize traditional African norms. In order to survive, the Black family has had to transform itself to buffer the experiences and impacts. Family and kin networks have served as an important bulwark.
The support structures and relationships formed out of strong family bonds make us stronger and are an aspect of success in navigating the complexities of society’s racial inequities.
The definition of perseverance and resilience aptly describes the Black families’ response to navigating systemic anti-Black racism.
Perseverance is the act of persisting despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. African descendant peoples display tremendous fortitude in ensuring that Black families are seen and heard.
Resilience is the process and outcome of adapting to challenging life experiences, especially through, mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility. It is this adapting to change and flexibility that has been internalized and infused into values for Black families survival.
Family values are an essential element across all racial ethnicities. Some of the traditions and culture of the Black family are rooted in respect for elders, education, community, social justice, advocacy, and faith. It is these values that give sustenance to the Black Family.
Writer and activist, Maya Angelou, describes the perseverance and resilience one gets from family when she said, “I sustain myself with the love of family.”
In addressing the Black family as a source of perseverance and resilience, we celebrate all Black families. Recognition is given to Black families which comprise a variety of identities: adoptive families, aunt, uncle, cousin, and grandparent parented families, blended families, chosen families of queer and trans people, extended families, fictive kin families (not related by blood), interracial families, mono-racial families, nuclear families, same-sex parented families, single-parent families, and families in which there is community/village parenting.
Throughout the month of February, NACCA will endeavor to explore various aspects of the Black family’s ability to sustain perseverance and resilience. We welcome everyone back to in-person events!
As always, we encourage that the education around Black History Month continues not only in February but throughout the year.
Pauline Jones, Chair
Black History Planning Committee
Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association
About Newmarket African Caribbean Canadian Association (NACCA)
NACCA is an emerging association formed by like-minded individuals in the Newmarket area who are committed to providing strong leadership to share and celebrate stories of people from African and Caribbean heritage.