Others originated during and in response to the Middle Passage and slavery. Still others developed in response to the twentieth century and were severely tested in a national environment of legally recognized segregation. Taken together, they constitute a living legacy. Our forefathers and mothers kept no special covenant with virtue, and, without question, many failed to live up to the standards they dictated.
But they had a talent for setting standards of moral and ethical conduct. Always cunningly creative, they kept these standards intact and used them as they formed families, raised children, expressed their spiritual natures, and generally navigated even more rugged social, political, and economic terrain than we face today. Some readers are bound to question the wisdom of my writing this book on black values and not on the American values that, as African Americans, we also share.
They will wonder whether the differences warrant such a book. To anyone who would argue that values are the color of water, I say that's a fine point of view, as far as it goes. I do not argue with it; I simply add the truth of my observations and cultural experience. Every ethnic group puts its own flavor into the water. For black people, the flavor is rich and deep. Back then, I was annoyed with my parents' "preaching," as I called it behind their backs. As a beneficiary of generations of struggle for survival and advancement, I could not imagine the consequences of materialism, immediate gratification, and lifestyles devoid of self-sacrifice.
Our children are paying the price. Far too many African American children-middle-class, wealthy, and poor alike-do not have a clear set of values to lean on, because we did not give them one. The consequences have been swift and stunning. Many kids do not have a positive sense of their racial or ethnic identity, nor do they know about exemplary, ordinary black heroes and "sheroes" in the past and present.
They do not have a sense of belonging to a community of black people that is larger than their immediate families.
Our children may have a more comfortable lifestyle than many of us enjoyed when we were young, but they often do not have the strong identity and survival skills they need on the inside, where it really counts. When middle-class children lack a certain core of values, they experience the kinds of problems my friends and I were discussing over dinner in St.
But when poor children lack those values they are in crisis. They do not have the economic advantages-jobs, incomes, safe homes, and communities that bring stability, if not wisdom-that insulate middle-class children from their confusion or the confusion of others. Most of the black poor are struggling to make ends meet, to abide by the law, and to uphold the values they were taught. But their ability to do so is compromised because their environments are at such high risk, and many are steadily losing ground. It is easy to become discouraged. Our individual successes notwithstanding, social and economic forces have come together to create an uphill battle for blacks as a group.
Since , black families have become so fractured that 48 percent of them are now headed by women. The majority of the children in these families are living in poverty.
The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families - Joyce A. Ladner - Google книги
The infant-mortality rate among blacks continues to increase, as the gap between blacks and whites widens. The school dropout rate, too, continues to rise. The number of homeless individuals and families, estimated to be as high as 1. Teenage pregnancy, though it has slowed, continues to be a problem; many babies have grandparents who are in their mid-twenties.
The rates of child abuse and neglect are increasing, especially among drug-addicted mothers and teenage mothers. Crime and violence have torn many communities apart, undermining stable neighborhoods to such an extent that people now fear for their safety. And drugs have come to symbolize a modern-day plague, both in its seriousness and in its proportions. In Washington, D. More black youths enter prison than enter college each year.
A similar pattern has developed among poor, young women, whose prospects are just as bleak. They believe that a bright future with a college degree, a good career, and a good marriage with children is absolutely impossible. They don't value life very much because they don't feel they will live very long.
What can we do? How do we intervene? How do we help these young people to veer off their destructive courses? How do we help to restore a sense of normalcy to our communities so that elderly men and women can walk the streets safely? How do we keep children in school long enough for them to graduate?
How do we stop children from having children? The answers to all of these questions require taking this first step: restoring a value system that inspires hope, trust, and a desire to achieve. Did our failure to endow our children with our value system cause all these problems? Of course not. I do not pretend that restoring a traditional value system alone will solve them.
Values, however, are a critical factor. As the old heads used to say, we have to earn our space in this world. Our value system requires us to take responsibility not only for our own successes but for the success of every child among us. Fixing our problems starts with fixing our values. I have an unshakable faith in our power to heal ourselves. We need to understand that discarding our traditional values is not a precondition for prosperity.
To the contrary, living by our values is the precondition. Like every other ethnic American immigrant group, we have to "keep the faith," because we have come so far and aspire to so much. We can participate fully in an integrated society without giving up the essential parts of our culture. We need to teach our children that it is neither necessary nor an option for them-or us-to forsake our heritage of values. In fact, most of us are already swimming in the mainstream. Our children need to know that. We have failed to communicate this effectively enough.
Being black does not mean being poverty-stricken, dejected, or a member of the underclass. It means being culturally distinct because we have unique ties that bind us securely to the past and to the present. Even though I have explained my intent, some people will be concerned that a book on black values singles African Americans out from the rest of the society and exposes "family secrets" that should be discussed only among ourselves.
These same critics will surely ask an important question: Don't these problems and issues also apply to other people? My answer is yes, they do.
The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values For African American Families
As a nation, we are preoccupied with values for a good reason. All of us want to stop the erosion of solid and honorable beliefs and traditions. The lessons in this book can be helpful to anyone who cares about young people. The problems and wisdom of African Americans are certainly not ours alone. Yet there is a vast difference between what Pat Buchanan means when he says "traditional American values" and what Jesse Jackson means when he says the same thing.
In the chapters that follow, I will try to make this distinction clear and lay down a path for our families to travel in order to rediscover and embrace the time-tested values of our heritage. Values are personal. They represent our individual choices and the things we hold to be important. Values, by definition, differ across groups, time, and place. For example, I do not expect all African Americans to agree that the particular values I will discuss in the following chapters are the right ones; other values may loom larger in their memories, and that is to be expected.
This is not a book that seeks to define an absolute code of standards. It is a book that asks you to think about a critical set of questions: What should we teach our children?
How can we bring back into the fold those who have lost their way? What was the path of our fathers and mothers that brought us this far? How can we adapt their lessons to our times? This is the quest that I invite you to take with me now, in a journey toward under standing how we can help our children develop clear, functional values.
In the next four chapters of Part One, I offer a closer look at the four fundamental principles underlying the black value system. I show how these principles took root and examine what they mean to us today. In Part Two I share lessons in values from my own Mississippi childhood in order to show how one typical black family passed their values on in a traditional African American context.
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In Part Three I share my feelings and insights regarding the connection between our values and the two most intimate and vulnerable ties in our lives: our relationships and our children. Finally, in Part Four I give you a number of specific ideas for things you can do now to bring the treasure of the African American value system into your family, church, community, and schools.
Foreword by Dr. Dorothy I. Frank Talk About Black Values. The Second Lesson: Trust in the Lord. The Ninth Lesson: Stand Tall. Fields, New York: Free Press. Eizenstat, S. Imperfect Justice. New York: Public Affairs. Erikson, K. Fields, K. Fields, M. New York: Free Press. Frazier, E. The Negro Middle Class and Desegregation. Social Problems 4 — Glazer, N. New York: Basic. Ethnic Dilemmas, — Cambridge, MA. We Are All Multiculturalists Now.
Gold, S. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. The Israeli Diaspora. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Gutman, A. Identity in Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Harvey, P. Helmick, R.
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Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press. Hurston, Z. Dust Tracks on a Road: An Autobiography. London: Virago. Mules and Men. New York: Perennial Library. James, W. London; New York: Verso. Johnson, C. Shadow of the Plantation. Chicago: The University of Chicago press. American Youth Commission. New York: Schocken. Kitano, H. The Japanese Americans. New York: Chelsea House. Ladner, J. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. New York: John Wiley. Lewis, H. Blackways of Kent. Lieberson, S. A Piece of the Pie. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Massey, D. American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass. New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Moore, J. Mexican Americans. Morris, A. Moskos, C. Greek Americans, Struggle and Success. Myrdal, G. Ladner and her siblings were raised in Palmers Crossing, a segregated rural district outside of Hattiesburg. Ladner grew up in a working-class family surrounded by a tight-knit group of extended relatives and neighbors who provided positive role models. Although separated by distance, she always felt a kinship toward her biological father, whose family came from a long line of Creole farmers, artisans, and craftsmen.
Ladner's childhood experiences with Jim Crow segregation, racial hostility, and economic hardship were mitigated by a supportive black community and a nurturing home environment that bolstered her aspirations and self-esteem. Influenced by her mother and stepfather's optimism and perseverance, she inherited a can-do attitude and defiant spirit at an early age.
She credited her parents with preparing her to deal with the challenges of racial discrimination and to succeed in spite of social barriers.
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Although her mother dropped out of elementary school in order to work on the family farm, she insisted on the importance of education for her children. Seven of Ladner's siblings completed high school and six went on to attend college. An avid student, Ladner would ascend to the highest echelons of academia.
The height of the civil rights movement coincided with Ladner's college years, and her deep involvement in part reflected a reaction to the racism and violent oppression she witnessed growing up in the South. She was eleven years old at the time of the Brown v. She became engaged in social activism during her teenage years. They and other students helped coordinate efforts to combat racial injustice even as they faced systematic discrimination and opposition. Although legally entitled to vote, blacks in Mississippi were forced to take an extremely rigorous literacy test from which whites were exempt.
After failing the examination as a senior in college, Ladner was able to register to vote only after appealing to the federal courts. For example, she worked behind the scenes in preparation for the historic March on Washington, raising funds through SNCC offices in New York to provide transportation for as many African Americans as possible. Her early interest in social activism led to a scholarly career in sociology. After receiving her bachelor's degree in she went on to complete her PhD in Sociology at Washington University in St.
Louis, Missouri, in At Tougaloo, Ladner studied under Dr. Ernst Borinski, an influential figure at the college who played an important role in shaping the sociology department. Ladner benefited from Borinski's social science laboratory and social science forums, which provided graduate students with specialized knowledge and exposure to leading intellectuals in the field Borinski, Ladner's scholarly work focused primarily upon the study of race, family structure, value systems, and urban leadership.
Her dissertation examined the social adaptations of black female adolescents in a St. Louis housing project.