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Impact On African American Families

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Discuss about the Impact on African American Families during Slavery.


African families challenged various issues in America and this has been a topic of debate since the Civil War. Some of the scholars strongly believe that slavery created a propensity for a fatherless weak family. These scholars believe that the matriarchal family structure of the African American is resulted due to the slavery that took place in 18th century. The racism can be recognized and considered as the predominant factor for the cause of slavery for African American people, which in later days became a tradition in America. The slavery destroyed the community culture, custom and disturbed relationships within the community. The situation in pre and post Civil War has changed the structure. However, the war has resulted in legal freedom of slavery; the issue related to family strength and relationship still exists. This paper will be analyzing the issues of slavery that resulted in the change in African American families.

The slavery of the African American families started with the arrival of African slaves as the helping aid for the production of crops. Since then these families were enslaved for more than two hundred years within the present American boundaries. Approximately two million slaves were imported from West Indies and Africa to South America. The black people were initially brought as the aid for the production of the crops such as tobacco and cotton, which later resulted in slavery for the white Americans.


Gradually the slavery of the African American people became one of the trades and the source of money among the ruling class (Willis & Krauthamer, 2012). The slavery became a tradition in the ruling class of Americans and slave trade was a usual and daily issue for them. However, the Civil War ended the slavery and the suffering of these families in 1865, but some of the impacts are still paramount in these families such as family structure.

The racist nature of the American culture is the major reason for the slavery of the African American families (Mullings, 2014). Africans were constantly reminded to be inferior due to their black skin color and often called primitive reducing their status of sub human (Boyd-Franklin, 2013). These black American people were sold at the market openly, from where the slave owners provided with the opportunity to choose slaves for personal and agricultural work. The government of Africa was captured by the American, which provided no help to these unfortunate people. Even, American government released slave laws against them.  The brutal and harsh treatment of the African American people by the American upper class creates impact on the culture, religion, society and the relationships of these families, which are still prevalent in them.

The slavery for the ruling class projected an excessive and deep negative impact on these families. the African people were chained and brought like cattle to America by ships. The trader of the slaves tortured brutally on them, which often caused death of these people. The whole structure and the formation of the family were affected by the slavery. These back American were considered as the commodities and properties for the Americans. The slavery also affected their culture and the religion. For the married people it was a daily and general issue to be departed from their spouse and children. The slave owners forcefully separated the men from the African American families that weakened the mental strength of the family. The constant separation of the men from the family made the family mother centered and this matriarchal structure are followed till today.

Relationship among the family members was majorly affected by the slavery due to the separation of the family. The slave owners used these people for their personal benefits. Enslaved people were often sold as part of the estate after the death of the owner. The lives of these families were haunted by the fear of separation. Children were found to be the most sufferers in this case when they were separated from their parents. A mother or a father was too helpless to protect their child from being sold. Pleading for not separating the children often used to be effective, but mostly the slave owners felt amusement in separating them from their parents. Thus, the children at the very young age were aware of the family formation and learned to live in this painful situation (Forehand & Kotchick, 2016). The families were sometimes allowed to live together with the constant threat of separation.


Apart from separating children from their parents, the slave owners also separated unmarried couples, by not permitting their marriage within the American states. Numerous unmarried couples literally had to wait for being married until the legal freedom from the slavery. The slave owners sometimes forced an enslaved person to engage into relationship with someone of their choice. Despite the separation, the family formation was beneficial to the owners because an enslaved person would not steal valuable properties and escape keeping his family in the ruthless tyranny. The marriages were caused under the affinity of consideration (Dixon, 2017). The separated husband often used to come to see his wife who was enslaved by another master, once in a week. The marriage and the conjugal life were at the verge of decline due to slavery.

The family structure was changed due to the separation of the families. The men of the family with good physical condition were used in fields to increase the productivity of the crops such as corn, tobacco, cotton or rice (Kulikoff, 2012). The mother was left behind with the children. Gradually the family became matriarchal and this family structure is followed in few families at present.

Most of the children of the African American slave grew up without their father and sometimes without mother too. Sometimes the mother had to run from her daily work to feed her infant child. The slave tradition did not allow the mother to stay with her children, even they are enslave for the same master. The slavery not only affected the relationship among the family members but also replaced the family structure. The children were assigned tasks from the age of seven or eight. The slave owners forcefully destroyed the childhood of these innocent kids. Consequently, the children were not provided with proper discipline and primary education, which resulted in illiteracy in the community and this is one of the major issues of African American to be the slaves for almost two hundred fifty years.

Slavery for more than two hundred years not only made the relationships of the black people disturbed, but also weakened them mentally. The Slave custom and nature did not allow the husbands to protect their families from the torture or exploitation by the slave owners. The husbands could not help the families by supporting financially as well. The wretched condition of the family members destroyed the mental strengths of the men of the families. The women were only meant to work for their masters and not for the entire families the masters used the women for their personal work an children for household work. This miserable situation of the women and the helplessness of the husbands are the indication of the dark side of the slavery.

The influence of the slavery on the African American family is majorly found to be negative. Despite the helplessness to overcome this slavery, there is a positive impact of the slavery on these families too. The families due to the separation from their men or the family head learned to survive in diverse and difficult situations. This can be considered that the slavery actually acted as the survival kit for these families. The slavery enhances the sustainability of these families, which led the family to survive for their own existence as well as their families. The continuous fight for the existence in a harsh and wretched condition and for the inclusive vision of freedom from slavery in future enhanced the tolerance power in the African American people.

This can be concluded from the above discourse that the African American people were deeply affected by the slavery. The enslaved people had to face several challenges to survive and protect their families. The slavery made the personal and social lives of these people deplorable and led them to lose their near ones. The slavery engenders the childhood of the kids and death of the numerous people in the community. The slavery is found to be the chief responsible factor for replacing the family structure to matriarchal from patriarchal. The positive effect of the slavery cannot be ignored as slavery confirmed the sustainability of these families in the unfavorable conditions. However, the minimal and considerate positive impact of slavery cannot eliminate the extreme negative issues challenged by the families, that led them suffer in the most miserable ways.


Annotated Bibliography:

The book depicts the positive and the negative effect of the hundred years of slavery on African American families. The author reveals that the slavery gave birth to the generation who knows survival skill. The entire study of the book projects the African American families as the inferior and the slavery for more than hundred years influencing the family culture. This book has been taken as a source for conceptualizing the survival skill of the African American family due to the slavery. The books also has also help to idealize the situation of the contemporary black Americans.

The author has studied the cultural, racial, socio historical factor impacting on the African American families in terms of relationship. The author has presented the fact that the declining rate of the unmarried people in the African American families need to be educated about the relationships. The book also goes on discussing the negative impact of the slavery on these families and the shaping the same. The section discussing the relationship of the African American enslaved people has been taken from the book. The essay also includes sources of the negative impact due to slavery from the book.

The article presents the behavior therapy for the parents in United States. The therapists researched on four ethnic groups including African American. The research result proposes parent training for these parents belonging to ethnic groups. The essay talks about the ethnic group of African American during slavery. This book helped to identify the particular behavior of the black American in the contemporary period.

The author of this book presents the context of tobacco trading and how slaves were forcefully used in the same. The African American slaves were mainly imported to enslave for the trading of tobacco. The book enables the readers to anticipate the miserable conditions of the slaves of tobacco trading. The book has also helped to find the source of tobacco and black human trading in the 19th century. The essay uses this book as a source to present the beginning of the slavery.

The book reflects the transformation and condition of African American women during and post slavery. The lives of African American women are presented in the book in terms of race, gender, family structure and class. The wretched condition of the these women in the contemporary society are taken from this book. The African American women’ lives are presented in the essay from the source of this book.

The book reveals the miserable condition of African American during the slavery. The authors also goes on describing the transformation of the family structure and the impact of the slavery on these families. the book has helped in writing the entire essay about the impact of the slavery of these people. The book has been used as an important source for describing the poor condition of the black Americans.


The author depicted the issue of family formation in the diverse situation of slavery. The separation caused by the slavery could not able to stop the family formation. The book, however discusses how slavery affected the family formation. The section of family formation in the essay has been taken from this book. The impact of the slavery on the family formation of African American people is distinctively found from the book.

The book concerns the issue of the persistence of racial inequality. The author discusses how the racism caused slavery in South America and how America took the legacy of slavery on the African American people. The book shows the American as the slave owners of the black Americans. The slave practices of the American have been taken from the book to write the essay. The essay uses the book as the crucial source for the given topic.

The book reviews the posttraumatic slave syndrome on mental and physical health. The book presents the view that the negative impact on the mental health of the people is possibly for the slavery of the past generation. In short, the journal shows how mental health is affected due to slavery and racism. The journal has been used to present the mental conditions of the African American people due to slavery.

The research presents the emancipation and the effects of slavery on the African American families during the slavery. Families passed through a wretched condition due to their inferiority of skin color. Precisely, the research paper briefs the negative impact on the black families caused by slavery. this research paper also has given certain information about the effects of the slavery on these families. As a research paper, the source is more authentic for the essay.

The authors, researchers and the therapists come to the terms with the social influence of African American families and marriages due to the slavery and the problems emerged from the same. The article sheds a light on the various residual effects of the slavery among the African American communities. The effects of the slavery on the black Americans family in the essay have used the source from this article. The article also helped to understand the marriage practices of these families during the slavery.



Boyd-Franklin, N. (2013). Black families in therapy: Understanding the African American experience. Guilford Publications.

Dixon, P. (2017). African American relationships, marriages, and families: An introduction. Taylor & Francis.

Forehand, R., & Kotchick, B. A. (2016). Cultural Diversity: A Wake-Up Call for Parent Training–Republished Article. Behavior therapy, 47(6), 981-992.

Kulikoff, A. (2012). Tobacco and slaves: The development of southern cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. UNC Press Books.

Mullings, L. (2014). On our own terms: Race, class, and gender in the lives of African-American Women. Routledge.

Willis, D., & Krauthamer, B. (2012). Envisioning emancipation: black Americans and the end of slavery.

Miller Melinda, 2010. The effects of Slavery on African-American Family Formation Following Emancipation

O’Connell, H. A. (2012). The impact of slavery on racial inequality in poverty in the contemporary U.S. south. Social Forces, 90(3), 713–734.

Sule, E., Sutton, R. M., Jones, D., Moore, R., Igbo, I., & Jones, L. A. (2017). The past does matter: a nursing perspective on post traumatic slave syndrome (PTSS). Journal of racial and ethnic health disparities, 1-5.

Tristan L. Tolman, AG, 2011. The Effects of Slavery and Emancipation on African-American Families and Family History Research.

Wilkins, E. J., Whiting, J. B., Watson, M. F., Russon, J. M., & Moncrief, A. M. (2013). Residual effects of slavery: What clinicians need to know. Contemporary Family Therapy, 35(1), 14-28.

Wilkins, E. J., Whiting, J. B., Watson, M. F., Russon, J. M., & Moncrief, A. M. (2013). Residual effects of slavery: What clinicians need to know. Contemporary Family Therapy, 35(1), 14-28.

Wilkins, E. J., Whiting, J. B., Watson, M. F., Russon, J. M., & Moncrief, A. M. (2013). Residual effects of slavery: What clinicians need to know. Contemporary Family Therapy, 35(1), 14-28.


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