The Invisible Family-Entry for May 18, 2007

Joan’s Reflections…

In the historically significant novel, The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison described the existence of an unnamed invisible black man in a way that had never been explored in American literature.

According to Wikepedia  “The protagonist explains that light is an intellectual necessity for him since ‘the truth is the light and light is the truth.’  From this underground perspective, the narrator attempts to make sense out of his life, experiences, and position in American society.”

It is from this and recent media events that I am inspired to write about “The Invisible Family”.

Granted I recognize and appreciate that the definition of “black family” is bigger than typically referenced by mainstream standards.  Grandmas and Grandpas raise grandones, Aunties and Uncles adopt nieces and nephews, Single Moms and Single Dads can definitely raise spectacular kids.  I also realize that mainstream media is not obligated to explore the existence of the two parent African American families who love, nurture, protect and support the dreams of their children.  I also understand that there are many historical and factual statistics that support the belief that the black family is in a state of crisis.  But and still…I truly feel that my family, my friends’ families, my colleagues’ families and my classmates’ families are INVISIBLE.  We are invisible because we know that we exist and yet everything around us says we do not.   We make noise and no one hears.  We wave and no one waves back.  We graduate scholars and no one cares.  We mind our own business but we are forced to be lumped into a category of dysfunctional statistics and studies simply because we are invisible.

My central theme is that the negative media images would lead a person outside of the U.S. to believe that the “2 parent happy black family living a fulfilled life” is invisible or nonexistent. My argument is that there are plenty of everyday examples outside of the “rich and famous”.  For example, have you ever found it a difficult task to get a local media rep to come out and interview your family when it was hosting a reunion, or your church was having a revival, or a black greek organization’s community service event was going on….but let someone’s child throw a rock and hit a car…you see countless face to face interviews with the whole family across your screen.

Watch any 5:00 news interview-

News reporter: “Grandma, why do you think Raheem did such a thing?”

Grandma: “I sho don know, sho don know…tragedeee sho a shame”

Interviewer: “Oh and you…You are the child’s uncle correct?”

And you know how the rest goes.

My observation is that the good things we do are so-called boring events. Yet, every bad thing is news worthy. There are numerous examples of positive black families and family friendly and focused events going on in each of our communities. We know about them because many of us have either organized or been a part of them. We have to sometimes SPEND budgeted money just to publicize our own good deeds to ourselves (ex. black owned newspapers and magazines). Wouldn’t it be really nice if the local media published articles that we could cut and clip for our family scrapbooks? Or am I the only black woman who keeps such a thing these days?  Am I the only mother who cares?

If our black family’s good deeds were to get as much airtime in mainstream media as the so-called “newsworthy events”… I believe that it would be easier for Hollywood to see our actresses and actors in better roles, toy manufacturers would find it easier to produce brown dolls and action figures, music executives would find it easier to fund positive lyrics, and the beat goes on. Most importantly, black children will find it easier to aspire, dream and achieve their dreams and then to one day start a family and not just have a baby.

“Education!  Important GEAR for LIFE” is the HBCU kidz, Inc. call to action to try to connect with other like minded parents. is a 21st century vehicle that can help us find one another and stay in touch with one another using technology.

“We get stronger as we link!”…it is important don’t U think?



Filed under Family Culture, Parenting Resources

3 responses to “The Invisible Family-Entry for May 18, 2007

  1. HBCUkidz

    I find that our current situation is like that analogy of the “Shark and the minnows”. So it goes a scientific experiment had a shark conditioned not to attack minnows. A huge shark was placed in a tank with a glass in between it and little minnows. Each time the shark lunged at the minnows it would painfully crash against the glass. Over time it learned not to attempt to chase the minnows to avoid the pain of the crash. Finally, the scientists removed the glass and the minnows freely swam all around the shark’s eyes, nose, teeth …yet the shark did not attempt to chase the minnows for fear of feeling pain. Saddly, many of us operate like that shark. We are afraid to chase our dreams as they poke us dead in the eye and go right up our noses for fear of failure, ridicule or embarrassment. We don’t want to showcase our good deeds because of “what happened to others who were dragged through the mud and muck”. So we just sit numb to everything. We don’t respond when our children’s self esteems and self worth are being attacked subtly by their lack of “equitable” representation. We somehow don’t mark our calendars to attend free community events that allow our children to see “a different side of black culture”…we seem to be just sitting in the tank waiting for extinction?????


  2. Anonymous

    I think that some folks take being labeled a “minority” as a life style rather than socio-economic American concept. When Black folks walk out their residential door we become insignificant as a race. And when we urn on the television or view a block buster film, we are insignificant except when we spend our money.

    But, to Joan’s point, we are an Invisible Family when we allow the pro white world penetrate our homes and homes. I think we play into our own genocide, as a Black people, when ourselves to be socio-economic minorities in our homes and our family activities.





  3. Anonymous

    Firstly, Wikipidia is a true source of nothing, let’s not reference it for any meaningful information in the future please…Your overall issue appears that the media doesn’t appreciate our story unless its negative, and unfortunately we give them plenty of negative stuff to spotlight. I don’t believe the media is biased in this. They go for most negative stories about people, however, they place a photo of someone Black more it seems. I believe what we need to be more concerned about is Black people recognizing OUR OWN STUFF. We unfortunately have supposed leaders pulling the media in directions that fails to highlight anything good about us – Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson who revel in anything misunderstood and point to callous racial issues when none may be obvious to the rational eye. Also, as long as rappers continue to be mysonginistic and use the N word not realizing the subconscious lynching of their endeavors and we continue to create 28 year old grandmothers (my cousin is a nurse in DC in the OB ward) we will struggle to highlight ourselves, because we feel we dont have anything to highlight. Or the actions of the many are speaking so loudly that the few that are operating under the radar will continue to, as they are not interested in being a gangsta rapper, or ghetto fabulous (in the words of the little girl in the movie Are We There Yet? “we’re not ghetto, or ghetto fabulous, we’re just fabulous!”)


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