This week I was on the phone with life coach, author and motivational speaker, Dr. Pam Love. We ended up on a very interesting discussion about the shifting values of the black family.
I have read many stories on the breakdown of the black family, the divorce rate and the role of the black church; however I found Dr. Love’s perspective very intriguing. So, I decided to share it with my readers.
She is also the author of a book based on living a value-driven life called “I Want My Vagina Back!”, where she explores the choices women in make in various life situations.
The point of the book is to have women examine their behaviors and values to ensure alignment.
Monica Cost: Dr. Love, you and I have had many conversations regarding values and choices. I was intrigued by one of our recent conversations regarding your assessment of shifting of the Black family value system. Talk to me about your thoughts on the subject matter, when you believe the shift began.
Pam Love: “Let me begin by saying that as with anything, I am not suggesting that this applies to all Black families. And that I certainly understand that there are other races who are experiencing such a shift, and that many black families have their values clear and in tact. However, I cannot dismiss the research and the trending that I see.
In addition to several other factors, it was post the Civil Rights Movement and desegregation when Black Baby Boomers began to have access to and an appetite for more mainstream opportunities; which were once the forbidden fruit. The want for such things caused many to abandon the collective mindset of “if one wins, we all do” and we began moving to a more individualistic mindset of “I have to win”.
We were given access to credit cards and women began working outside of the home, thus we could afford more for ourselves and thought less of the collective. There was a time when if little Sam needed a coat or had an opportunity to go to college and lacked the resources, the grandmother from down the street or the neighbor across the street, and many others would contribute money to ensure that the collective was covered. The “we” came before the “me”.
During this time, post civil war and desegregation, there were several heros in the Black community that galvanized the the masses. They kept the relevant issues of the collective at the forefront, which also kept the community on one accord. These heros did not exist for their children, Generation X; who some researchers call the lost generation. The Baby Boomers, accumulated more wealth and material things, and began to shower the Gen Xers with these things. The children, however, did not have to work as hard for the trappings. This continued the breakdown of the values of our community.
The value of a stable home with both parents was traded in for independence and “freedom”. Mothers were now working and no longer home to provide the same stability for the family. Thus the Gen Xers also became the first generation of “latch key” children, with more access to free time and no “village” to raise them. Another shifting of values showed up here. During the same time the microwave was introduced and the matriarchs of the family, whether grandmom or mom, were no longer cooking dinner and quicker started to become better. Valuing instant gratification we beginning.
With the increased number of women working and gaining more access to money and credit, we began to see an increase in the divorce rate. This may be controversial, but I believe these decisions were a further departure from family values we once coveted. Some needed to get out because of abuse, and other harmful circumstances, however others left just because they could. There was little consideration for the “we”, but only for the “me”. This not only applied to women, obviously, but for the many Black people gaining more and more access.
We didn’t stop to ask ourselves “why?” we were making the choices we were making. Our only concern was having access to the things that had been kept from us for so long. We were blinded by the forbidden fruit.
At the end of the day, we were once community driven, valued education, had pride in ourselves and wanted the best for each other. We had little, but we had a value system that was solid and intact. This shifting of values has continued to permeate our entire existence. Much like I write about in “I Want My Vagina Back!”, we are concerned more with the instant gratification for ourselves and less with the health and well being of our community.
It makes me wonder if we didn’t desegregate too fast and without a plan to keep our values intact.”
Monica Cost: For those who will agree and have a want to regain those family values, what do you believe can be done?
Dr. Pam Love:
- Take time to sit in the stillness of your own thoughts and understand your choices.
- Look back at our history and the choices that have been made.
- Look at other cultures. People take care of each other. Ask yourself why we may be the ones suffering the most.
- Make a sacrifice for the greater good, small or big.
- To thine ownself be true.
- Journal and reflect.
- Ask yourself if you are here to serve or be served
Dr. Pam Love is an author, entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, and certified life coach. She is founder and President of Maryland-based PM Love Enterprises, a company dedicated to “changing lives one purpose at a time” through individual, group, and organizational training, coaching, and consulting. She has a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology from Coppin State University and a master’s and Ph.D. in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore. She is the author of a life changing and empowering book for women called “I Want My Vagina Back!”. www.iwantmyvaginaback.com
Monica Cost: While I believe there is a shifting of values happening across the board, it certainly can’t go unnoticed, after looking at the history of Black people, that there may be something to the “me” versus “we” mentality that is contributing the breakdown of the values of the community that used many of those values to create the access it has today. There is more work to do in the fight for equality for many groups of people. That change only comes when people are on one accord and their values are aligned.
Monica Cost is communications strategist, brand manager and respected corporate and motivational speaker. She is the President and Founder of Evidently Assured, a communications and brand management firm.Email her at: [email protected] Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. Coming soon www.monicacost.com and the Live Your Truth manual “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze: how to create true and wanted sensations in your life.”