Slave Family Structure

Brenda E. Stevenson

in Life in Black and White

Published in print November 1997 | ISBN: 9780195118032
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853793 | DOI:
Slave Family Structure

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Interstate slave trade and the nature of a slave's work—be it in the plantation or for domestic duties—has greatly hindered the formation of social connections among these people. For the minority who were able to establish a nuclear family, the basic lack of rights over their own persons precluded any semblance of normal family life. Thus, several variations—extended nuclear families, single-parent groupings, same-sex groupings, single adolescents, and single or widowed elderly folk living alone—were formed. Another crucial factor in the disruption of the slaves' family is the law on “matrifocality” which mandated that the children of a slave woman take their mother's status, regardless of the father's color or condition. The same law ordered the courts to “banish forever” those men who intermarried with any woman of color and this served to institutionalize female slave's sexual degradation and to “commodify” their offspring.

Keywords: slave; slave trade; nuclear family; extended family; matrifocality; master; female slave

Chapter.  9465 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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