My analysis of the black family unit will start from the middle passage through the freeing of the slaves in 1863. The black family unit originates before the Africans were brought to America, it was just restructured a little differently once they were in America. During the Middle Passage the slaves that were captured came from different tribes with different languages and traditions. One of the first things that had to happen before a family unit was accepted; they had to learn to communicate with each other. After arriving in the Americas they were sold to the highest bidder without any consideration of family or tribal ties. These experiences cause the Africans to forge new identities as African Americans thus enabling them to create new family unites.
African American families/communities where slow to formally develop because the number of Africans where too low, they didn’t have enough men and women together in the colonies.1 The southern colonies in the eighteenth century had a greater number of slaves they had a greater success in establishing the family. American born slaves where called Creole Slaves and these slaves gave rise to family and community life.2 These slaves’ populations had established structure with men women children and elders even using terms like aunt and uncle. Slaves with families at this time worked all day and then had their domestic family responsibilities. The problem with is was that the masters owned each slave so at anytime you could be sold off again with no regard to your family/community ties. Since the slave marriage was recognized by law often times even husband and wives lived on different plantations with different masters.
Religion has played a huge part in the development of the black family unite. During the times of the Dutch Church Reformation in America the Atlantic Creole population in New Amsterdam had formal marriages. The church became an institution through which New Amsterdam blacks were able to form independent familial units. In addition to marriage papers, archives of the Dutch Reformed Church contain baptism records that list children according to fathers rather than owners and name black godparents as witnesses.3 In these families they were able to support each other emotionally, financially, and spiritually as religion began to be introduced to them. From this point to present day African Americans have had religion play a big part in their lives.
The single parent home has plagued the black family, because families were controlled by the masters they had to have extended families. The extended families consisted of grannies, aunts’ uncles and other slaves on the same plantations. The extended system of kinship central to African society, thus, found new purposes within the institution of American slavery. Extended families not only ensured that their members were physically provided for, but they also offered emotional support.4 This was a very trying time for the family because the slaves were able to be manipulated by their masters. Often time slave would be punished for things a family member did or even killed. In 1863 when the slaves were freed they are now given a chance to find lost family and try to renew the family unite once again.