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ladyv900's avatar

How would you compare black mothers back in Ancient times,slavery,back in civil rights times to some of the ones today in America?

Asked by ladyv900 (713points) July 19th, 2010

I mean how much or lack of care for their children and raising them are any different?And this isn’t any racist question,I’m just saying some,the American ones of the urban communities(not all blacks live in the ghetto).Do you think the ones back in history had better parenting than the ones today?

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25 Answers

mponochie's avatar

I don’t think parenting changes much with history. Historically mothers love and want to protect their children, often the period in which we live presents different challenges in doing this. Your question however does appear to be slightly racist and not sure what you mean by lack of care for their children.

Blackberry's avatar

I haven’t lived that far in the past, but growing up, there definitely was a general consensus that children should be seen and not heard, and physical beatings as punishment were rampant. I have already told my family how I feel about the way my cousins and I were treated and I think it may have influenced them a bit in a good way.

ETpro's avatar

Most mothers of all nations and colors have always loved their children and done their level best to bring them up so they will do well in life. The few who abondon or mistreat their children are exceptions in any race.

What changes over times and environments is the life mothers have to prepare their children to succeed in. In ancient Africa, they had to warn them of predators, poisonous snakes and potentially rival tribes. They had to teach them to survive in that kind of jungle.

In the days of American slavery, they had to prepare them for a world where the white man was king, and doing or saying anything that angered him or his wife or children could be fatal. They had to bring their kids up knowing that at any time they could be taken away from their mother, and sold as property, and that they would face a short and painful life of backbreaking labor and beatings for minor infractions.

In the ghettos of America today, they have a different jungle to prepare their children for. They have to warn them that while the Civil Rights act may seem ancient history, there are people, some in authority, who still hate those with dark skin. Ghetto moms have to worry about whether their child will join a gang and end up dead in senseless gang violence. Or should they refuse to join, tend to their studies and excel in school only to have some jealous gang-banger target “the brain” for a sport killing.

Years and years of Jim Crow laws, substandard education, redlining, and confinement to menial, low-wage labor; and the tacit continuance today of those disparities have built those ghettos. Real education and real cooperation between all races to change them can clean them up.

And yes, this is a racist question, but I am glad you asked it. We need to talk about these things whether we get labeled as racist for doing so or not.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’ve seen the gamut from permissiveness to abusiveness in black families of every social class. However, considering American history, when black and mixed-race children born in slavery were more likely sold away from their parents than not, black families in the US are doing pretty well, frankly, in terms of overall cohesion, even though there’s plenty of work to be done in strengthening black families who need help.

It’s hard to raise a child if you’re poor, lonely, uneducated and stressed. Hell, that goes for any family in those circumstances. I don’t think black families corner the market on that kind of stress.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think mothers have changed, I think the family structure and environments have changed more than anything, Back in the 50’s divorce rates were very low among blacks. I have heard that during slavery black children were much more likely to be born to a married couple, something like over 75%, and I think now it is below 50%. This seems to have a large impact on finances, married couple tend to have a larger household income, and obviously affects to some degree how the child is raised. For some reason in some parts of the black subculture having a baby gives a person status, even if you are 16 and in high school. But, in no way can we lump all black people into this stereotype, and we cannot exclude other races either.

This type of differentiation would not even occur to me if I had not moved to the south. In the south there is greater disparity between the races. Where do you live?

I think religion and lack of education feed into some of the things @Blackberry mentioned. Seen and not heard and a harsh punishment is seen in many white households also. I think it really has to do with socio-economic circumstance more than color or race, it just happens in many places the poor tend to be black, but there are many poor white people also. Poor doesn’t have a race.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie The percentage of children born to married blacks during slavery was somewhat skewed by the propensity of white owners to order attractive female slaves to allow them sexual privileges. Some may have done this out of lust, but often it was simple economics. A slave that was half white brought more money than a full black one.

They had a whole hierarchy of words for the percentage of white blood. An Quadroon was one fourth African and three fourths white ancestry, and fethced an even higher selling price. The real prize was the Octoroon with only 1/8th African ancestry. Quadroons and Octoroons were often used as household slaves instead of being made to work in the fields.

Mustee refers to a person with one-sixteenth African ancestry; Mustefino refers to a person with one-thirty-second African ancestry. But they were all still Blacks and Slaves in the eyes of Southern slaveholders and the law.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I would guess the percentages are probably a little messed up for many reasons, good point. You know, I found it very interesting when I watched the 10 minute movie at the beginning of the Rock and Soul museum in Memphis. One thing that stood out to me was that the blacks and whites back in the 50’s, I think it was the 50’s, were the same. Dressed the same, spoke the same. It did not seem like they were trying to differentiate themselves. I wonder if they felt like they were square pegs in round holes? I have heard black people say in present day that they feel like they have to change themselves to fit in with white America, that it does not feel right to them. Something changed.

ETpro's avatar

I grew up in the South and was born in 1944. I walked to elementary school through the place that, at that time, the more polite whites called Colored Town. The accent of the people there was understandable to me, but very different from the speech of gentile whites.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I would agree that most of the blacks I come into contact with now in the Memphis area sound different than the whites, if I close my eyes I could be pretty sure if someone was black. Well, what I mean is there is a certain accent that I would know they are black, but I could easily also speak to a black person where I could not guess. But, it would be very unlikely for me to speak to a white person and confuse it with speaking to a black person. In the midwest and the north I would have a much harder time guessing what race someone is just by talking to them. But, in that movie from years back everyone sounded the same to me. The areas you speak of, was there a distinct economic difference between the whites and the blacks? Then I am back to education and social class.

SeventhSense's avatar

The problem in the black community in general is they are still playing catch up having been denied the most basic of human rights for generations in this country. Child rearing in America was a forced and unwelcome change and assimilation into a predominantly white and very different style of family. A black family was expected to assimilate but at the same time never quite accepted into the culture at large for many years.
This was far removed from many African communities in the Old World. African mothers are some of the most doting over their children not even taking them from their breast or back even while they work. Furthermore entire villages were closely knit and integral to the family. Contrasted with the isolated and individualized Western family approach this must have seemed odd to early slaves. Eventually things will normalize in this country as everyone is given voice.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I have never heard this theory before. I am not sure I buy it, but you might be able to convince me. Black Americans have been getting educated in public schools and lived here for many generations since slavery, I don’t see how they can be given the excuse that they need more time to assimilate? I can understand some of the angst black Americans feel, and how that makes their atitudes different then immigrant groups who have come to this country. I really think education and children not growing up in what is practically war zones is what will make a difference. Not sure how fast that will happen. I am very interested in public borading schools.

If a black woman wants to dote on her baby her best shot is to marry a man who makes a good living and who supports the idea of the mother of his children staying home.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie There was an enormous economic gulf betewwn just about all the Blacks in the Norfolk area and whites. And the most rampant racist, the most likely whites to be part of the KKK, were the poorest whites who were afraid that if they didn’t guard their turf carefully, some black might take their job. Pride, greed and ignorance were the driving forces behind racism. Intelligent whites that fanned racism’s flames did so not out of ignorance but simply out of greed and the lust for power that defending good, decent white folk would bring them. And that hasn’t changed to this day. The race baiting in politics now is just a shade more subtle.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro I agree, it is the same today. The people in the movie I saw were from the same economic background from what I could tell black and white. You made me think of the point that in the military there seems to be little disparity between the races from what I can tell from the outside. I thought of it because you mention Norfolk, I assume you mean Norfolk, VA.

Growing up oustide of DC on the MD side I did not really notice differences between black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. We had the whole world there. We all had similar values, accent, etc. Well, accent unless they were new immigrants to the country. As a child growing up in that environment I did not think twice about someone being “different” than me. I figured I was just as different as the next guy. In the south there is a feeling of us and them in my opinion.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, I was actually in the unincorporated part just outside the town of South Norfolk, Va., fertilizer capital of the world. Of course, you can guess the black area was located where all the stench of the fertilizer plants and the tallow plant were, along the Eastern Branch of the Elizabeth River where they could easily ship their goods out and get raw materials in. The while area was mostly farm land and housing along a few roads then, but is all suvburban sprawl now, and incorporated as Chesapeake, VA.

truecomedian's avatar

Oh my god, what a question, how could I possibly know what it would be like to be mothered by an enslaved mother. For some reason, Frank Zappa comes to mind, he was one of the first white musicians to have blacks in his band. He could probably answer this question better than me, but he’s dead.

mattbrowne's avatar

The mother-child relationship does not depend on skin color. A lot of behavior depends on universal human genes.

SeventhSense's avatar

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862 and 100 years later blacks were still denied basic rights of education, were being lynched, firebombed in churches, attacked with dogs for peaceful protest and segregated in public facilities. The Civil Rights movement in America never gained all of its aims and was basically rudderless with the assassination of its leader. It takes time when there is entrenched ignorance on both sides.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense Yeah, I was not even going back that far in my examples, I was just thinking of the 1950’s more or less. Entrenched ignorance. Hmmm? Well, still, the only excuse I can give is that they were actually enslaved in this country. My paternal side of my family came to America poor, really really poor. My grandfather and his siblings were all mentally ill, well one seemed to escape being very sick, from the horrors they suffered in their old country, and the difficulties even in America probably did not help. My father growing up in NYC did not read until 3rd grade, but since education was available he wound up with a PhD. My grandfather was as American to me as a DAR, and certainly my father is completely assimilated having been born here.

Many other of “my people” went to the gas chambers, immigrants to the US had witnessed their relatives killed, and had been tortured and basically enslaved themselves. Most Jewish holidays celebrate being freed out of slavery for that matter. We do grow up knowing people hate us. Whenever I am in a Synagogue I think if people want to kill a bunch of Jews here we are in one place; I would assume black people have similar thoughts at times. The real difference I see is generally we had trust in our country. We felt free and proud to be Americans and the opportunity in front of us. We knew compared to the old country we lived in paradise. My grandparents and great grand parents generation did their best to leave the past in the past and move forward, value education, blend in. I think black people maybe don’t always feel that, feel proud to be American and to trust, and to blend in, and possibly are taught the opposite. They may have had moments of feeling different, but we all do. Recently I was wondering if that whole black pride movement in the 70’s didn’t maybe hurt them as a group in some way.

I am not sure what that has to do with how a black mother raises her baby in terms of time spent with her children, and how much doting is done?

SeventhSense's avatar

It’s not so simple. Who knows to what extent the Holocaust has had on generations to come. We imagine that the end of horrific acts are the end of a matter but that is simply the visible tip of the iceberg. Atrocities, wars and acts of prejudice are simply dormant seeds that have germinated under the right conditions like a weed emerging in ones garden. The end of the matter does not necessarily eliminate the root. Furthermore significant changes occur within families and societies which can take generations to balance. Seemingly insignificant changes at the micro likewise can have ripple effects immeasurable on the macro and vice versa.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I don’t think it is simple. I don’t think the end of the holocaust is the end of the matter. As I said growing up Jewish I kind of always have the idea that I know there are people who hate me for just being born Jewish. My father having been poor as a child affected how I was raised for sure.

I thought about what I wrote, and I realize that what I think matters most, the reason some things don’t change is because the people the OP is talking about are STILL living in bad conditions. It has nothing to do with race, and little to do with the history of the people back in their former country when we are this many generations out. It has to do with recent history and current living conditions I think.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

people did so good with this q!

SeventhSense's avatar

It has to do with recent history and current living conditions I think.
And current living conditions are a direct byproduct of recent history. And recent history is a direct byproduct of not so recent history would you not agree? One builds upon the other in positive and negative ways and everything in between.
For example, they call Jay Z Jigger.
In the early part of the century this was a popular toy throughout the country and made in New York. And these stereotypes are still prevalent.
The black community often looks at outsiders of “the system”-gangstas, pimps, thugs etc as successful not realizing that these same outsiders are not really outsiders but simply caricatures of the culture at large and damaging to their own community ultimately as well. Yet as the culture at large becomes more heterogeneous there is less and less appeal as to a rebel with nothing to rebel against other than self serving aims.

JLeslie's avatar

@SeventhSense I think you are touching on what I was saying about conforming. It’s like black people are hurting themselves by keeping those stereotypes alive. But, to their credit there are many black people who hate those stereotypes and hate that black people are helping to encourage it.

I guess that puts us back at the subculture, if they think it is cool to be a gangster, or as I mentioned to have lots of babies out of wedlock, it will be difficult for things to change. But, I don’t think it is a matter of being cool, I think maybe it is because they don’t really believe there is another way for them. We all are products of our community, and it is difficult to see beyond it. What is beyond it seems to be for “other” people. That is why I harp on giving an education that actually helps the children identify with things beyond their immediate community. Field trips to colleges, public boarding schools for secondary school students. Get them out of the ghetto, literally physically out, and comfortable in other settings.

You mention the culture is becoming more heterogeneous, and I think that is going to help things. In the south, which is where most blacks live, it is still very black and white, I feel a lack of diversity here.

ETpro's avatar

@SeventhSense & @JLeslie GAs both. This stuff needs to be talked about. THat is why in wlecoming the OP, @ladyv900 I thanked her for asking even while I said the question has tones of racial bias within it. It’s going to be pretty hard to talk about racial bias and stereotypes without ever talking about racial bias and stereotypes. And that means gangstas and the hip-hop folks with jeans down to show their underwear and admitting there is such a thing as welfare moms and the whole nine yards. We have to do that in a way that seeks to improve, rather than stereotype weveryone of a given skin color as being one or the other of those negatives. In the same way, some whites are KKK members or neo-Nazi white supremacists,; but that certainly doesn’t suggest we all are.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro Great point about being able to discuss and condemn the KKK and neo-Nazi white supremists at the same time knowing not all white people are parts of those groups. I don’t feel like we have to tip toe around that, so why is it so hard to have open discussions about what is going on in parts of the black community? I guess one real difference is the white groups mentioned are actually trying to kill, or would be happy if their targets dissappeared of the face of the earth. When we talk about black stereotypes I think we are more worried about them hurting themselves, with a secondary thought about how it affects everyone in society. Somehow it seems more personal to tell a black women you have too many babies, then to tell a white guy you can’t go around lighting crosses on front lawns. Maybe that is why it is so much harder?

And just to back track a little, I have heard white people say things to try and defend having white groups which supposedly are not violent or hateful, supposedly. I do not agree with these groups personally, but my point is it seems some people are trying to convince themselves that being a neo-nazi in modern day isn’t all that bad or something? And, I think for some black people maybe whites are generalized into one group. It would be interesting to know the generalizations and stereotypes a black person in the ghetto makes about white people. I have a feeling us white middle class people are clueless. Recently, I was on a facebook thread that was meant to be funny, talking about black politicians who are “white.” And, some of the stereotypes for white surprised me, until I realized I am in the south and white politician typically means right winger. It just reinforces what I said about how we are so influenced by our local community.

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