chapter  8
22 Pages

The Complexities of the Black Response to Oppression Strengths and Vulnerabilities, Pride and Self-Doubt

The circumstances encountered by black people on these shores, from the extraordinary inhumanity of slavery to the poverty, violence, and virtual abandonment by mainstream society of today’s inner cities, have presented a series of severe challenges to human resourcefulness. At times, as I shall discuss below, the adaptations that have arisen as a consequence have had painful and ironic consequences. But the response to these challenges has also included the development of noteworthy resources that have enabled African Americans not only to cope effectively and creatively with adversity but to transcend the adversity and construct lives of vitality and achievement. A primary concern of this and the following chapter will be to understand the diverse adaptations that have evolved in response to these circumstances-both those adaptations that, in one more vicious circle, end up perpetuating the very disadvantage that spurs them and those in which hardship becomes a forge in which the resources of individual and community are melded to yield uncommon strength and resiliency.