“We have to make a perfect family. And it starts with perfect love, and total commitment, not this bull-stuff that you call ‘I’m in love.’ You don’t know what love is, so God came to show us love, so that we could have perfect unions, better relationships. Relationships not based on sex. But we are Negroes—the product of the enemy: So all of our relationships are rooted in sex, and not in true love that gets you into The Mind and The Spirit and The Heart of one another.”
—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan,
Strong Families: The Foundation of a Great Nation, August 27, 2017
Black families are not monolithic when it comes to political ideology, belief systems or in socio-economic areas. This also includes types of families: single parent households, extended families, blended families and two-parent households.
However, the critical need for healing, repairing and strengthening our marriages and families is necessary for survival. Despite the historical and deliberate targeting of the Black family for destruction through White supremacy, poverty, trauma and other factors that continue driving a wedge between Black men, women and children, Black families have endured.
Black marriage and family advocates note that among other factors, an emphasis on development and growth moving forward must include genuine communication between men and women, parents and children.
Recently, experts of various backgrounds from around the country discussed the health and well-being of the Black family with The Final Call and what is needed to repair relationships and why it is necessary. They noted that in today’s world ruled by the enemies to Black progress (Satan’s world), that the Black family must remake itself because of centuries of influence by White society that is a cause that has led to an effect which includes fractured relationships. Healing is necessary to anchor and repair the Black community so it can thrive, they pointed out.
Russell Morris is a teacher, psychologist, and private practitioner committed to helping individuals, couples, and families become stronger. He is from Wilmington, Del., and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He told The Final Call that what he sees impacting most Black families is unresolved trauma.
“To address issues in Black communities, unresolved trauma in families must be acknowledged and addressed,” said Mr. Morris. “There should also be some recognition of the importance of dealing with one’s unresolved issues as an individual and as a family. Additionally, addressing those issues goes hand in hand with being able to communicate. Furthermore, there’s always the question of whether there is any real affirmation and love. Are those messages being communicated?” he added.
This has become more vital than ever. Given all the obstacles and challenges faced, the Black family has shown resilience and adaptability. However, communication must be a priority. Only through honest and open dialogue can families hope to address the challenges they face and build a brighter future for generations to come, experts noted.
Psychologist Brandon Jones heads the Minnesota Association for Children’s Mental Health and The Jegna Institute. He describes the current mindset in the Black community as “institutionalized” and also states that families must undergo a shift in thinking to move forward. “There is a universal goal emphasizing security. It is not just about safety, but also about comfort. Having a sense of belonging to others in your relationships, family, friends, community, and society,” he said.
“I do not offer direct therapy to Black fathers, families, and children, but I connect them to more direct services, such as those offered in their communities,” he said. Mr. Jones spoke on one initiative, the 14th Annual Community Empowerment Through Black Men Healing conference which was held virtually in late September. Presentations included, “The Future of the Black Family,” “Using Healing Justice to Support Black Youth,” “How Does a Community Heal When It Feels Like It’s Under Attack?” and more.
“While we can do much mentoring, online media is the most effective way for information and ideas to spread quickly. Our podcasts and videos discuss various topics, and we try to create a narrative within our community to help people reflect on their experiences and plan for the future,” Mr. Jones said.
Mental health practitioner Renee Morgan takes a holistic approach to healing that includes focusing on three areas: the mind, body, and spirit. Working on all three levels, Ms. Morgan said, helps her clients heal their symptoms and the underlying causes of mental health issues that are a contributing factor to erosion of relationships, including marriages and families.
“As a people, we need to recognize that we’ve been emotionally and psychologically damaged. As a result, we have been damaged by the narrative that has been put out about us being less than human. We are only three-quarters of a human being, you know, all that history. That whole genocidal plot against us still has its remnants in the behaviors we display today, the self-hatred, and the ease with which we kill one another. Life is being devalued,” she said.
“There can be no solution until we fully acknowledge the damage. We should focus on our symptomologies due to the damage to our social and psychological behaviors. To do that, we need to remove the taboo of seeking help. That’s the taboo we need to break,” she said. Ms. Morgan said therapy is a significant way for individual, family, and societal healing.
“We need to use natural alternative methods to heal ourselves emotionally and psychologically,” she said.
In her therapy, Ms. Morgan emphasizes balancing the male and female energies and points of view. “It is important that they understand who they are in a relationship with and their partner’s traumatic experiences. What did they go through? It affects how they interact with you,” she pointed out.
Marcus and Cecelia Muhammad have made it their mission to help heal and strengthen marriages. The Atlanta-based husband and wife are founders of The Marriage Keepers. Their organization specializes in assisting couples in repairing their relationships. By working with The Marriage Keepers, couples learn tools they need to build a strong and lasting marriage so vital to the health of the Black family.
“The importance of teamwork is often overlooked. It’s important to have a strong team working together for the common good. Still, too many people are unfamiliar with what effective collaboration looks like, leading them down paths where their individual needs take priority over those who depend on them most—namely family members or partners,” the couple shared.
Mr. and Mrs. Muhammad are members of the Nation of Islam and explained the importance of marriages being God-centered.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan teach the importance of marriage and family as the cornerstone of a great nation and that God must be at the forefront.
“It is important to understand relationships are first built upon our individual relationship with Allah (God). It starts first by recognizing who we are as divine beings because we live in a world that’s just wicked and fallen; everything about this life will turn you from God,” said Cecelia Muhammad.
The couple has held several retreats over the years, which include husband-only and wife-only sessions and joint sessions.
“We want you to stay together and fight for your marriage. That’s why we do the Marriage retreats because it takes commitment, effort, and courage—all those things that make life worth living in general! We know most people don’t look beyond their wedding day when they get married, but true love means putting each other first above ourselves,” added Marcus Muhammad.
In the work with couples he has done over the past 20 years, Mr. Morris said one of the main objectives he gets them to work on is developing their communication skills.
“I believe you know that any issue can be addressed and resolved. If both parties involved are willing and able to communicate effectively,” he said.
“It is essential to understand the context in which a given family operates. We do the best we can with what we have, you know, we still have a strong foundation in our churches that is still important to many of us, a sense of faith and believing in something greater than ourselves,” explained Mr. Morris.
He says the Black family is improving but that, “it is still not stable.”
According to ChildTrends.org, a Maryland-based research group, “culturally, Black Americans have long highly valued romantic partnerships, marriage, and children. However, institutional and structural barriers often prevent them from being able to realize these values, particularly for those who have low incomes.”
In his message, “Understanding the Nation of Islam in the West,” Minister Farrakhan spoke on the importance of rebuilding the family and he described the destruction of the Black family as a sin of huge proportion and that as a result, the effort to rebuild the Black family must be aided by those who destroyed the family, and, the responsibility of helping must be accepted by the generations that have benefited from the institutional slavery and the destruction of our families.
He explained this will take a new understanding of God’s word and the renewing of the mind of Black people based on God.
“Again, the scripture teaches, ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts. My ways are not your ways. I am from above while you are from beneath,’” said Minister Farrakhan. He explained this teaches us that our thoughts and our ways are far beneath what God desires for us.
“Therefore, what we have produced as the man, the woman, and the family by our thoughts and our ways are far beneath the man, the woman and the family that Allah (God) desires for us,” the Minister added.
“So, in order for us to make a new family, we have to return to Him who created the man, the woman and the family and we must be willing to accept His Thoughts and His Ways.”
(Final Call staff contributed to this report.)