Following the success of its best-selling predecessors, the Fourth Edition of Harriette Pipes McAdoo's Black Families retains several now classic contributions while including updated versions of earlier chapters and many entirely new chapters. The goal through each revision of this core text has been to compile a book that focuses on positive dimensions of African American families. The book remains the most complete assessment of black families available in both depth and breadth of coverage. Cross-disciplinary in nature, the book boasts contributions from such fields as family studies, anthropology, education, psychology, social work, and public policy.
Chapter 3: Interpreting the African Heritage in African American Family Organization
Interpreting the African Heritage in African American Family Organization
Many of the debates concerning explanations of black family organization are waged around false dichotomies. The experience of slavery in America is juxtaposed to the heritage of Africa as the explanation of certain aspects of family structure. “Class” versus “culture” becomes the framework for discussing determinants of household structure and role relationships. Black families are characterized either as “alternative institutions” or as groups whose structures reflect their “adaptive strategies,” as if the two viewpoints were mutually exclusive.
Just as surely as black American family patterns are in part an outgrowth of the descent into slavery (Frazier  1966), so too are they partly a reflection of the archetypical African ...