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Afro-Caribbean people trace most of their cultural background to Africa. This was a period that began during the arrival of Christopher Columbus in Africa in 1492. There are numerous names that people use when referring to Afro-Caribbean, namely: Afro-West Indian, Black People, Afro-Antillean, and African Caribbean. It is noteworthy that numerous Africans arrived to the Caribbean between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries during the era of slave trade. Most of the African populace became enslaved and taken to huge plantations owned and controlled by the Dutch, British, French, and Spanish colonial powers. Later, the Afro-Caribbeans became resistant to such practices and their uprisings and revolutions contributed to the slave trade abolishment. In addition, their hard fight and involvement in numerous campaigns for independence and change allowed to establish in the Caribbean region. Kinship in the Caribbean region is an essential aspect that is unique and reflects the social development of the population. Numerous theorists who were writing about the Afro-Caribbeans or the Caribbean region contend that there are numerous cultural interaction forms that helped in interrogating the cultural manifestation of the Afro-Caribbean people. Presently, Afro-Caribbean people spread all over the world, and they carry with them diverse cultural practices and norms, which forms the basis of this paper.
Afro-Caribbean Family Setting and Responsibilities
In most Afro-Caribbean families, there are numerous roles played by different players within the family setting. The farther is the head of the family and has the responsibility of providing economic assistance. He is both the economic provider and the one who provides security to the family. In Afro-Caribbean culture, there are numerous norms that help in upbringing children. The father has the responsibility of ensuring that kids are disciplined, more specifically, the males. The father instills discipline to all the children; nonetheless, they must have distant relationship with their daughters. In broader aspect, the father does not get involved in day-to-day childcare, more so the little infants. This must not be misconstrued by saying that they do not take care of their children. In fact, the father must facilitate the well-being of the children from the birth to adulthood. Mums usually take care about their infants since mother is considered to perform better at this stage. Nevertheless, in the 20th century, men became more concerned with the well-being of their children and, thus, they became more involved in the daily care and life of their children (Stephen, Richardson & David, 2003). They also decide to spend more time together playing with children.
Conversely, the mother also has numerous roles to play in the family setting. The major role of the mother is to take good care of the children. She is the principle nurturer in the family setting. In addition, she takes care about the home, children, and all the pets at home. They are also sole advisers to all the children and they ensure that the kids are respectful, obedient, and submissive to both the parents (Chen, 1996). The mother ensures that the girls assist with the domestic chores, whereas boys attend to all works outside the house. The boys must ensure that the yard is taken care of and other errands run appropriately within the homestead.
Most importantly, it is vital to note that there is diversity in Caribbean families. This is usually apparent due to the multiethnic composition. Though numerous Caribbean families have African background, they are associated with other families’ backgrounds such as Chinese, Middle Eastern, European, and Indian. This usually causes some people of the Caribbean family to become identified with such cultural practices of the above mentioned communities. This is because most of them identify themselves as Caribbean.
Family Structure of the Afro-Caribbean People
The Afro-Caribbean family structures are usually based on the three major ethnic groups of the region, namely, China, Africa, and India. Even though the structures of the Indians, Africans, and Chinese usually share numerous aspects in common, each group has its uniqueness. For the purpose of this research, we will explore mainly the Afro-Caribbean people. Most researchers affirm that East Indians and Africans have lived in close proximity for more than a century; nonetheless each group still has its unique ways of life. They do not share institutions, values, kinship groups, goals, and authority patterns.
Afro-Caribbeans come from the African background, and their family values and chores are associated with African culture. The Afro-Caribbean populace forms roughly from 80 to 90 percent of the several families in the Caribbean region with the African background. Most of them came to the region as slaves to work at the plantations owned by the Whites. Their population grew at an alarming rate, and some of the African cultures became emulated by most people of the Caribbean. Approximately 85 percent of the Carebbeans have African background. Several of them settled in the Caribbean Islands: Barbados, and Jamaica. In fact, approximately half of the populace settled in Tobago, Guyana, and Trinidad, all of which are from the African descent.
In the Afro-Caribbean culture, family rearing has numerous unique aspects. This family or group of people has unique mating and childrearing patterns. Some of these patterns appeared due to the absence of either the parents or grandmother dominated household. This is what they refer to as the common law unions. The other one is called child-shifting, which is case whereby the child is sent to live with the relatives. Some of the reasons behind child-shifting are due to the parent’s migration to another place or when one of the parents forms another union with a different spouse. There are two structures of the family, namely: matricentric or matrifocal.
Matricentric or Matrifocal Structure
Most families usually have a matrifocal or matricentric structure (Gibson, 2002). As much as it is a common knowledge that the principle provider and protector of the family is the father, the socialization of the children is never clear. Other African-Caribbean families are usually guided by the mother or relatives in cases when the parents are not present. Just like it has already been mentioned above, father’s major responsibility is to provide economic assistance and protect his family. There are numerous areas that the emotional availability and their social ties to their kids become ambiguous; for example because of parents’ being too busy to take care of their children. According to the research carried out by the University of West Indies, most Caribbean men rarely have emotional attachment to their children. Consequently, the boy child is usually left with a lot of challenges in understanding what is it required from him. This makes them consider family patterns as norms. Some of these family patterns include male absenteeism, matriarchal households, and extramarital relationships as norms that are only put into practice by adults. Generally, the Caribbean culture ensures that there are numerous values and lifestyles to be emulated by children.
There are usually four family structures within Afro-Caribbean setting that are likely to affect the values, lifestyle, and childrearing. These include the single parent family, the marital union, the visiting union, and the common law union. Within the marital union, the parents are living together with their parents. The common law union is when the parents live together without having a legal marriage, in civil marriage. The visiting union demands that the mother still lives in the parent’s home but they are married. And finally, the single parent is when one parent takes care of the kid/s. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that all these relationships starts by visiting and then advances to the common-law union, which later culminates to the marital union (Tony, 1976).
Roughly 49 percent of the Afro-Caribbean families are headed by the females. This is usually a result of the agreement between the parents or just due to some misunderstandings between the partners. Approximately 60 percent of children of Afro-Caribbean families stay and grow up in the two-parent homes. Thirty percent live in households where they are raised by their mother exclusively. Later on, children born at the later stage of development, in most instances, have two parents in their residential place.
Finally, since the Afro-Caribbeans are the larger family in the Caribbean region, they influence the political and cultural setting. For example, there are some of the things, such as celebrations or dances, that came in a result of the migration of African slaves to the Caribbean. Some of the notable examples include the introduction of the celebration of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, which was later followed by the introduction of calypso and reggae. The Afro-Caribbean culture brought many ideas and tools to the Caribbean, and one major tool is called steel pan, which originated from African-Caribbean families. In addition, numerous political leaders came from Africa, and, therefore, they had their own ways of managing their territories. This is to say that they practice politics from the African perspective (Oppenheimer, 2003). In fact, the Afro-Caribbean culture was shaped by the African slaves in a significant manner.
Education and Christian Values
Most of the Afro-Caribbean parents prefer educating their sons. In so doing, the sons are usually pushed to work extremely harder to ensure that they achieve as much as they can. In the Afro-Caribbean culture, family issues are usually kept secret and only discussed within the family. They believe that problems within the family should only be discussed by the family members. There reason for doing so is to enhance stability within the family. Most of the families are usually less emotional and they do not express their anger. Nonetheless, they show anger than love from time to time, but, in most instances, they prefer hiding it. Most of them attend churches and they are usually Anglicans. Several Afro-Caribbean people identify themselves with Catholicism and Anglicanism; nevertheless, some of them are Buddhists (Stephen, 1999). Buddhists practice their traditions, such as lighting incense, accompanied by having shrines at their homestead. The Afro-Caribbeans usually trust in herbal medicines as compared to traditional medicines.
It is evident that Afro-Caribbean people trace most of their cultural practices to Africa. This was a period that began during the arrival of Christopher Columbus in Africa in 1492. There are numerous names that people use when referring to Afro-Caribbean: Afro-West Indian, Black People, Afro-Antillean, and African Caribbean. The Afro-Caribbean structures are based on the three major ethnic groups in the regions, namely, China, Africa, and India. Most families usually have a matrifocal or matricentric structure. As much as it is a common knowledge that the principle provider and protector of the family is the father; the socialization of the children is never clear. Most of the Afro-Caribbean families prefer educating their sons. As much as several Afro-Caribbean people identify themselves with Catholicism and Anglicanism, some of them are Buddhists. In general, they have influenced the Caribbean culture in numerous aspects.