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Ensuring Inequality 9780195100785

Ensuring Inequality | 1st Edition

The Structural Transformation of the African American Family

ISBN-10: 0195100786
ISBN-13: 9780195100785
AUTHOR:
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press, Incorporated
Also available at Amazon.com
Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access codes, CDs, DVDs)
Product Description: There is a crisis today in the American family, and this crisis has been particularly severe in the African American community. Black women are more likely than ever to bear children as teenagers, to remain single, and to raise their children in poverty. As a result, a staggering number ofAfrican-American children are growing up without fathers and living in destitution. In this insightful new book, Donna L. Franklin offers an in depth account of the history and development of the African American family, revealing why the marriage and family experiences of African-Americans differsfrom those of white America, and highlighting the cultural and governmental forces that have combined to create this divide and to push the black family to the edge of catastrophe. In Ensuring Inequality, Franklin traces the evolution of the black family from slavery to the present, showing the cumulative effects of centuries of historical change. She begins with a richly researched account of the impact of slavery on the black family, finding that slavery not onlycaused extreme instability and suffering for families, but established a lasting pattern of poverty which made the economic advantages of marriage unattainable. She provides a sharp critique of the policies of the Freedmen's Bureau during Reconstruction, and demonstrates the mixed impact of the newpattern of sharecropping. On one hand, tenant farming allowed greater autonomy than the older gang labor system, and tended to consolidate two parent families; on the other hand, it reinforced male authority, and bound African Americans in debt peonage. The twentieth century brought a host ofchanges for black families, and Franklin incisively examines their effects. First, black women began to move to cities in search of jobs as domestic servants, while men stayed behind to work the fields, dividing the families. Then, two world wars sparked the great migration north, as AfricanAmericans pursued employment in booming factories. When the white soldiers returned home, however, many blacks found themselves out of work, shunted to the least desirable, lowest paying jobs. Roosevelt's New Deal offered limited help: in the North, it tolerated the red lining of urbanneighborhoods, making it difficult for blacks to obtain home mortgages; in the South, blacks found that, as agricultural laborers, they were exempted from most labor laws, while agricultural subsidies were administered in favor of white farmers. And the distinction made between programs paid for bybeneficiaries (such as social security) and those based on need (such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children) stigmatized the poor. Most blacks found themselves living an ever more tenuous, socially isolated existence. Franklin brings her comprehensive, nuanced study right up to the present, showing the impact on the urban poor of changes in the economy and society, from the dramatically shrinking pool of good jobs to the rise of the new right. "The increasing reliance on welfare by young black mothers," shewrites, "corresponded to the erosion of opportunities for young black males." More important, she offers new approaches to solving the crisis. Not only does she recommend federal intervention to create new economic opportunity in urban ghettos, but she also stresses the importance of blackself-help and proposes a plan of action. In addition, she outlines social interventions that can stabilize and strengthen poor, mother-only families living in ghetto neighborhoods. Exhaustively researched and insightfully written, Ensuring Inequality makes an important contribution to the centraldebate in American politics today.

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PUBLICATION DATE:
288
CATEGORY: Family & Relationships, Social Science
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