Changing the Narrative About Black Families
Harmful Words to Abolish From Your Vocabulary
Abolish Absentee Father
Abolish Broken Family
This paper identifies inaccurate and biased terms and narratives that are used to undermine the success and wellbeing of Black families in society. These are terms and narratives that result in real harm: society unfairly judging and punishing Black families according to a set of rules that white people in similar situations are not held accountable to; and society unfairly denying the recognition, care, compassion and support that white families in similar situations benefit from receiving.
Part 2 of this report provides detailed context on each term (summarized in the chart here), and provides an outline of the specific social policies and norms that those terms reinforce—policies that have institutionalized systemic racism across society:
- Mass Incarceration
- Health Inequities
- State Regulation of Family
- Voter Suppression
- Family Policy Harm
- Single/Unmarried Parent Penalties
- Federal Family and Medical Leave Act
- Social Security
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF)
This paper also summarizes findings from past research on the misrepresentation of families in news and opinion media (Part 1), and provides a basic historical overview of the origins of terms and narratives that have been weaponized against Black families: biased and inaccurate social science, racist dog-whistling strategies forged in politics, and the rationalizing logic of racism tracing back to slavery (Part 3).
Download Full ReportLiberals must reject the “moral preeminence of the intact two-parent family” and “affirm a plurality of family forms as valid ways of life. By virtue of its structure, no one family form is inherently better at realizing the values of family life.