Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community

By Beverly Daniel Tatum | Go to book overview

6
Making Choices

The exploration into the lives of these 10 black families began with the very broad question, "What does it mean to be a middle-class black parent, working and raising children in the midst of a predominantly white community?" The data generated by the interviews has begun to address this question. Certainly in terms of these 10 families, a look at their past histories as well as their future aspirations for themselves and their children has contributed to an understanding of their present situations. The discussion of their experiences in Sun Beach can highlight some of the critical issues for families existing in similar social contexts. To label the experiences of these families as representative of all black suburbanites would be premature at best. But these families do not exist in a vacuum. Sun Beach is only one of the contexts in which they can be considered. They also exist in the context of other research families about whom information has been gathered. To the extent that the information they have shared about themselves can be related to an existing base of knowledge about black families, our understanding of these 10 families (and black families in general) can be enhanced.

Though each family has its own unique history and characteristics, the families in my sample share major areas of commonality. Primarily from Southern-based families, the parents were socialized as children with values that have been identified as traditional within black communities ( Hill, 1971; Nobles, 1976). Most have at least one parent that emphasized the importance of an education. Religious participation was, for almost all, a requirement of family life. Mutual support and cooperation among family members was expected. As children, most experienced close relationships with extended family members, and respect for others, especially adults, was a norm they all understood.

Now, as adults, they have maintained most of these family traditions. In raising their own children, they have continued to emphasize the importance of work and educational achievement, and the need for respect of self and others, especially adults. As dual-career couples, they have demonstrated the desirability of egalitarian and flexible family roles for smooth family functioning in the context of their own marital relationship. Although most have maintained family religious rituals such as teaching children prayers or saying grace at

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Assimilation Blues: Black Families in a White Community
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Afro-American and African Studies Series Advisers: John W. Blassingame and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. *
  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • 1 - Invisible Families and Black Family Research 1
  • 2 - Welcome to Sun Beach 17
  • 3 - A Long Way from Home 33
  • 4 - Troubled in Paradise? 51
  • 5 - Nowhere to Run -- 75
  • 6 - Making Choices 89
  • Bibliography 105
  • Index 111
  • About the Author 113
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