58 Emory L.J. 7 (2008-2009)

handle is hein.journals/emlj58 and id is 17 raw text is: TOWARD A RENAISSANCE FOR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN
FAMILY: CONFRONTING THE LIE OF BLACK
INFERIORITY
Enola G. Aird*
I. THE HARDEST QUESTION
How do we extinguish-once and for all-the lie of black inferiority that
continues to undermine the ability of black people to love themselves and to
love each other? That, in my view, is the hardest question regarding law,
religion, and the African-American family that will have to be faced over the
next twenty-five years.
Like all families in the United States today, black families are facing
profound challenges. Marriage rates are low. Divorce rates and the rates of
births to unmarried women are high. These and other disturbing trends are
especially pronounced in the black community.' African-American families,
in addition, carry the weight of unique challenges that are grounded in the past,
but still reverberate today.
The black family has been under siege for centuries. Black people in the
United States endured more than two hundred years of family-crushing
enslavement and another hundred years of humiliation under Jim Crow. Even
with the dramatic changes brought about by the movement for civil rights,
continuing racial and economic discrimination (and, until recently, family-
dividing welfare policies) have put black and white families on vastly unequal
footings.
In spite of these difficulties, an amazing number of black people have
managed to succeed. But the constant assaults have worn many families down.
* Co-Founder and Coordinator, The Community Healing Network, New Haven, Connecticut. I am
grateful to my husband, Stephen L. Carter, for his helpful comments on earlier drafts of this Essay.
1 See, e.g., Megan M. Sweeney & Julie A. Phillips, Understanding Racial Differences in Marital
Disruption: Recent Trends and Explanations, J. MARRIAGE & FAm. 639, 643 fig. 1 (2004) (documenting that
the divorce rate among white women was 29% lower than that of black women in 1993); Joy Jones, Marriage
Is for White People, WASH. POST, Mar. 26, 2006, at B I (stating that the marriage rate for blacks fell by 34%
between 1970 and 2001).

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