“The family is the embryo of society and civilization. It is the place where we find man in his/her most formative and moldable state of being. There is no other place—not even church, or school—that can equal or better the opportunity and conditions for shaping the behavior of the individual into a harmonious member of society, and civilization. It is safe to conclude, that if the family institution of a nation is in trouble, that nation is doomed for failure.”
“An Afrocentric Guide to a Spiritual Union” by Ra Un Nefer Amen (1992)
Marriage forms the basis of all other culture shaping institutions in society. As children, we learn first and foremost from our parents. If our initial lessons in life are incongruent with reality, we will stumble in our efforts to secure a successful life.
Nearly all the major challenges Black people face are a result of following a decadent culture. Westerners do not possess the morality and spirituality to cultivate harmonious relationships. If there is no understanding of how to get along with another in the household, then the institutions of marriage and family in the Western world are doomed to fail. Black people, by parroting a Western approach to relationships, will likewise fail to establish and maintain harmony in our marriages.
African Americans ages 35 and older were more likely to be married than White Americans from 1890 until the 1960s. However, over the last few decades, marriage has been declining among all Americans, and this decline is even more evident in the Black community. African Americans are the least married of any major racial/ethnic group in America. According to the 2020 US Census, only 30% of African Americans were married compared to 48% of all Americans. Half of African Americans have never been married compared to 34% of all Americans. In 2020, 48% of Black women had never been married which was up from 42.7% in 2005. (https://blackdemographics.com)
The most common reasons people give for their divorce are lack of commitment, too much arguing, infidelity, marrying too young, unrealistic expectations, lack of equality in the relationship, lack of preparation for marriage, and abuse. However, the main reason that marriages fail is much more fundamental – neither party knew the purpose of marriage. Typically, couples “fall in love” and seek to live the rest of their lives together. Eventually, what they thought was love has deteriorated into feelings of disappointment, despair, anger, and/or resentment. At this point, the emotional needs of one or both parties are no longer being met which leads to the demise of the relationship.
Since most marriages are based on an erroneous concept of love, there’s a good chance that it won’t succeed. Ironically, one of the purposes of marriage is to learn to love. In other words, we come into this world to live in harmony with one another, to be just, caring, forgiving, respectful, etc. – all of which are aspects that can be cultivated by striving to live a divine life. To be divine is to be a loving person. Marriage offers an opportunity to develop this capacity and share it with others.
Culture is chiefly responsible for shaping behavior. Our history, experiences, values, knowledge systems, traditions, and practices have been influenced by educational, governmental, media, social, and religious institutions program our minds, impact our decisions, and dictate our behaviors. They also inform our feelings, sensations, emotions, thoughts, images, and beliefs about ourselves and each other. Collectively, these influences represent our culture. If these influencers are not rooted in truth and righteousness, then our families and nations will be spiritually impoverished, physically unhealthy, and socially unsustainable.
The solution to improving Black male/female relationships is to adopt a traditional African perspective on marriage and family. The hallmark of a successful relationship is when both persons love one another unconditionally. To do so requires a spiritual perspective for living a good life. The highest act of love is the love for God. In fact, it is a duty and responsibility for all to establish and maintain this love for God. One of the main ways of expressing our love for God is through sharing with others and expecting nothing in return.
In African culture, the fundamental unit of society is the family, which includes the living and the deceased. Yes — ancestors are members of your family! The best way to honor your ancestors is live in the manner that the exalted ones established for us. Don’t throw your life away. Use this time on earth to develop a love for God, your family, and your community so your offspring can benefit from the foundation you helped to establish for them.