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"Family Matters: The Role and Responsibility of the Village"

By Dr. Gloria Latimore-Peace Presented by Omni-U Virtual University


"It takes a village to raise a child" African Proverb In this vital discussion, regarding the "Role and Responsibility of the Village" in the care of the children in our CommUnity, "Parenting" and "Parenthood" are being viewed, from an African-centered perspective,i.e., as a commUnity of persons- not merely two biological parents of opposite genders. According to the way of thinking of our Ancestors- who were the First people and, therefore, the First Parents- "It takes a village to raise a child." Thus, the adults in the "Village" must recognize that it is the responsibility of all of Us to serve as the custodians of all of the children in the Village. It follows, then. that our parenting skills must be honed in this context as a necessary prerequisite to assuring that we achieve the objectives of our self-evident assignment. Hence, when we speak of parenting skills, we do not limit our reference to the "Nuclear," pseudo- "family," model, i.e., two parents living together with their children in a single household ("under one roof"). This is because the "Dick and Jane model," to which we were introduced via our primary grade readers,[1] has enough limitations of its own. Even if we were not African- oriented, we would recognize that since neither the Nuclear "family" organization nor its related child-rearing practices produce good citizens- at home or in the larger world- these are not examples to be enculturated in our young. In addition, under the prevailing conditions of oppression and deprivation, even those "families" with the requisite two parents, have greatly reduced chances of getting their children successfully through the mined fields they must traverse in this inhumane socio-political system. Fortunately, we have access to an authentic, tried-and-true, example that had been in effect in the Motherland for eons before the "Maafa". [See link in the recommended reading list below]. Maafa is a term that means the "Great Tragedy," or "African Holocaust," that is primarily associated with the Middle Passage of the "Atlantic Slave Trade" in which the "forces that divided us" disrupted our culture, i.e. our way of life. This unspeakable tragedy was not just another historical event, as evidenced by the fact that we are still hemorrhaging children as they get caught up in the grips of- or led astray by- the games, trinkets, and corrupt systems of this society. It has long since been time for us to implement the original - African- model of family which is based on the premises that:

"Children are the reward of life." and "It takes a Village to raise a child." Thus, an essential prerequisite to African- centered parenting is to place inestimable value on our children- to regard their lives as so precious, so priceless, that our own, personal goals become secondary to their maintenance, security, and development: "As whole human beings Unwarped in this world of biased laws and inhuman practices. "[2]. Our primary goals, therefore, are to raise them up culturally enriched in order that they may know and practice the African way …; that "they might come through life's adversities…;" as well as that we may "insure that each and every one of them might survive And survive, they must."[3] And, because these goals are harder to reach when there are family members who are Missing in Action because of "biased laws and inhuman practices" substance and system abuse; and stolen legacy, it is imperative that we join together, with all those who are like-minded and able-bodied, in united affirmative action "To Save the Blood of Black Babies" [Cheatwood, 1995]. Which brings us to your role as one of the biological or social family members, i.e., parents, of the children in the Village. Please be mindful that - in the African way of looking at the world- you do not have to HAVE children- to procreate children- in order to HAVE children. When a child is born IN the Village, that child is born TO the Village. Whether "real" [biological] or "play" [social], you have children when your "brothers" or "sisters" have children, and your responsibilities are the same as those of the "biological" parents. It should not be necessary to petition you to do your share, in whatever ways you are able, to meet their essential needs, especially in the face of deprivation and/or hardship. At this time in our history, these may seem like unattainable ideals. Yet, they were the practices in which our ancestors engaged - not only in the Motherland over thousands of years but also on this side of the Atlantic Captive Trade for hundreds of years, thereafter - both before and after the Mayflower. [4] Ask your elders to tell you the stories of how they- the "working poor," i.e., destitute, survived the "Great Depression;" "Jim Crow;" " Stolen farmland;" "The Great Migrations;" "Red-lining"; "Slum Landlords"; etc. They will share anecdotes of: how the "Village" acted together to build a house or "raise" a barn, especially, after a fire; how debts were paid (or forgiven) by bartering with produce and other commodities; how essentials were acquired by virtue of donated items at church rummage sales; how dinners -made with donated food -were cooked and sold to help needy(ier) families; how the elderly were kept at home when they became frail and "assisted living" was provided by family members with the help of "friends of the family;" how the children of mothers who were ill, or had given birth, were cared for by the women of the "Village;" and the crops were tended, by the adults and older children of the Village-for fathers who had fallen ill or on hard times. Take note of the fact that they all referred to each other and treated each other as Sisters and Brothers. Elder women, of course, were regarded as "Mothers." Nowadays, the Elders in the Village - both Mothers and Fathers- are becoming increasingly irrelevant and are on the brink of becoming obsolete as their words of wisdom are replaced by social media clicks and "Google" search results. Our better days were - and still are -the days when we are connected to our African roots- when we are truly "Our Brothers' and Sisters' Keepers." Or when, as Ancestor Gwendolyn Brooks declared, "We are each other's harvest, we are each other's business, We are each other's magnitude and bond…"[5] Our social security, our insurance, our unemployment compensation, our medicare, our aid to dependent children, our Village is Us. And, we have demonstrated, throughout our sojourn on this planet, that "We Shall Overcome" meant more to Us than mere words. Back then, as now, "overcoming" must continue to stand for the uniting of our hearts and hands so that we can take care of the "Family Matters" of the Living, the Ancestors, and the yet unborn. A Luta Continua, The Struggle Continues… Recommended Viewing In the "H3O ART of LIFE" TV Show: "Family Matters: The Role of the Parents" Fellow Omni-U Faculty members Wayne Sebamurti Gentry and Dr. Asantewaa Oppong Wadie join me, Dr. Gloria Latimore Peace, in a discussion, the purpose of which was/is to clarify parenthood. Recommended Reading "But We Are Still Living in Maafa" Kiarri T.H. Cheatwood. To Save the Blood of Black Babies. Marimba Ani. Let the Circle Be Unbroken.

Ancestor George G.M. James. Stolen Legacy.

Mugi Ngomane. Everyday Ubuntu: Living Better the African Way Joyce Ladner. The Ties That Bind: Timeless Values for African American Families. Ancestor Jomo Kenyatta. Facing Mt. Kenya. Ancestor Ivan Van Sertima. They Came Before Columbus.

Blog Notes [1] Fun With Dick and Jane. [2] Ancestor Dr. Margaret Taylor Goss Burroughs." What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black?..." [3] ibid, Burroughs [4] Ancestor Lerone Bennett, Jr. Before the Mayflower. [5] Ancestor Gwendolyn Brooks. " Paul Robeson"

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