African American Women Seeking Strength in Romance and Family Relationships

African American Women Seeking Strength in Romance and Family Relationships

Maudry-Beverley Lashley (Medgar Evers College (CUNY), USA), Vanessa Marshall (Howard University, USA) and TyWanda McLaurin-Jones (Howard University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2404-5.ch010
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Abstract

Family interactions play a central role in creating relationships. The dynamic roles of intersectionality and biopsychosocial factors including culture, race, gender and environments stimulate the synergistic effects of relationships. Sociocultural contexts provide meaning to individual lives. The mechanisms within a family dynamic impact the formation of life decisions and overall health, spiritual and mental well-being. The purpose of this chapter is to explain and expand on how many African American women and LGBTQ couples create and interpret family dynamics and romantic relationships; specifically investigating the influential impact of kinship support, the role of the sandwich generation and the occupation of the Black woman as a primary caregiver.
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Introduction

Family interactions assume an essential role in creating relationships. Family can be defined in many ways however it contains a basic social unit of people. As an institution, the family provides socialization and support for its members. Recognizing the importance of alternative family factors based on strength and the more recent recognition of at-risk behaviors on family dynamics have a significant impact on morbidity and mortality of health and mental well-being on the population under study. Examining the socio-cultural factors for family dynamics continues to be a missing component for diagnostic evaluation of health and mental care conditions. It is the purpose of this chapter to explain and expand on how African American women and LGBTQ couples relate to and create family dynamics and romantic relationships; specifically it investigates the influential impact of kinship support, the role of the sandwich generation and the occupation of the African American woman as a primary caregiver. Initially, an overall general discussion on the historical structure of the African American family will be provided. Next, the perspective of the African American family to include issues pertaining to the structure of African American relationships and beliefs about marriage and/or cohabitation, the importance of trust, mental and sexual health issues in relationship dynamics will be examined. Lastly, the integration of two theories including Attachment and Intersectional Theories will be used to discuss romance and family relationships of African American women. In this chapter, the term African American and Black will be used interchangeably. In discussing this population, we are referring to individuals who are part of the African diaspora or descendants of Africans who, some four centuries ago, were enslaved, transported and dispersed to various parts of the world (Lashley, 2014).

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