Considering that African-Americans have been soldiers in every war that the U.S. has ever fought, it should be no surprise that sociologists take great interest in the relationship between the U.S. military and the African-American Family (Billingsley 1992). Following Allen's theoretical model (1995) of the African-American family in U.S. society, it is clear that any analysis of the dynamic between family and military will necessarily consider the interplay between individual decision-making, economic circumstances of the community, and the socioeconomic opportunities afforded by larger institutions. This essay aims to reinforce the significance of these latter socioeconomic benefits for Black families in the military, while simultaneously refuting claims reminiscent of Moynihan's theory, which emphasizes the patriarchal appeal for black males participating in the armed services.
[...] Moynihan's unequivocal support of black male participation in the military is based on his central ideas that the modern black family's economic problems stem largely from internal female domination, and as a result, the black male has been emasculated and reduced to powerlessness both within and outside of the family domain. Moynihan's writing also resonate with the ideology of Chris Sr., who strongly believed in establishing a male patriarch in the family and similarly, taught CJ to have self-esteem based on a masculine sense of toughness, protectiveness, and control. [...]
[...] and Donna. CJ's mother continued with her college education and attained a master's degree, but was forbidden by Chris Sr. to work outside of the home. Because of additional emotional and physical abuse, Yvonne divorced Chris Sr. in 1994 and moves with CJ to a new apartment. Throughout high school, CJ participated as a cadet in the Army's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, and with the encouragement from his father to “finally become a he decided to enlist in the army after having attained his high school degree. [...]
[...] In light of this powerful economic appeal of the military to Black families then, it is likely that CJ considered such benefits of military service in contrast to the comparatively unreliable ones of the civilian economy. In conclusion, it is clear that for African-Americans, the socioeconomic considerations about military service far outweigh any supposed desire to escape the matriarchal culture such as that which Moynihan (1965) describes. Before making any sweeping conclusions about the socioeconomic benefits for young Black males such as CJ, one must briefly consider the military's shortcomings as well. [...]
[...] For instance, the increasingly huge numbers of Blacks in the military has led the military to make its recruiting patterns more specific to targeting Blacks, using advertisements in popular black media, scholarships that target Blacks, and live military recruiters at poor, black schools (Blackwell 1985). Nonetheless, the dynamic between the African-American family and the U.S. army mostly manifests itself in the downward influence that Billingsley emphasizes. One major effect that the military has on the black family is its significant social appeal, which Blacks of all economic backgrounds find important. [...]
[...] military has on the African- American family is its economic incentives that encourage both male and female African-American enlistment. Above all else, the army offers avenues of upward mobility to black youths such as CJ, which the civilian sector is not able to match as reliably. While CJ is from a middle class background, Oliver and Shapiro's research (1995) clearly indicates that most black families' middle class position is highly vulnerable to both personal crises and economic depressions. Primarily for this very reason, the military's reliable economic offerings are highly influential on lower class as well as middle class Blacks like CJ; maintaining and strengthening one's economic position remains a priority. [...]
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