Genogram and Family Self-Assessment

Who Is My Family

 My family is made up of six siblings raised by a single mother. It is made up of two brothers and four sisters. I am the last in the family and our eldest sister is already married. My mother was born in a family of six siblings too, all of whom are still alive and come to visit us.  My mother’s generation comes from my grandfather’s Manu and Isla who were born in the 18th century by our greats. I am happy to have my grandfather and grandmother alive today.

Figure 1: My Family Genogram Created with Progeny Application (Pedigree.progenygenetics.com, n.d.).

Analysis of the Family Genogram

            The genogram has three generations starting from my great grandfather to our mum, Mrs. Ayola, and then us. One pattern I can trace is that there has been consistent intermarriage and we are soon becoming a family that is integrated with the whites. The culture has helped us, especially our generation since no one amongst my siblings has ever been bullied for being black but that is just a small percentage. We also became U.S. citizens by birth. Our family functions more or less like any other. We take our mother as the head and she has inculcated the traditions and beliefs of the other generations into us. I can say that by being Caribbeans, we have had grandparents that have impacted us very much with the traditions and culture of the Caribbean Island. 

Generations’ Transitions

The genogram representation provided above shows three generations of my family. I have not included my father’s side as I have a little history about them. Further, I did not have much interaction with them as my father and mother got divorced when I was still young. The family I have been highly involved with is from my mother’s side. Much of this information is obtained from my mother as she was the closest person I could interview and get an assessment and background of our family. In many instances, I found it respectful to get her perspective of our family as I have known her as my mentor and I look up to her for the character because she is a woman of steel. She has brought us up and provided everything and I cannot say we have lacked any basic need. My family is made up of six siblings including four men and two ladies. Being the last born and now in college while the others working, I can say that my mother has given us the weapons we need to conquer the world.

Stressors

From my interview with her about our family I had much to learn which I could have not gained if this course did not commit me to do so. First, I did not even know if I had a father because I had not seen him when I became of age. This is something that has been disturbing for some time since I was in primary school as I could see other people getting visited by their two parents while only my mother or another close relative would come to check up on me. I also came to realize that we originated from the Caribbean Island. My ancestors are buried on that island and my grandfather has kept the traditions and culture alive since then. Many Caribbean immigrants keep their ethnicity and social identity including such things as religions, race, and other social as well as personal identities (Venner & Welfare, 2019).  In many instances, the black Caribbean’s are combined with the African American population due to their physical similarities.

Family Roles

             Apart from my immediate family, there are my uncles, cousins, grandfather, and grandmother who are almost 80 years now. I have great admiration for my extended family because they have ensured that we do not forget where we came from. We have had a culture of meeting and celebrating together during holidays as well as in different anniversaries of some different family’s special days. This development has enabled me to know my family better and understand our background in a special way. We also have a strong religious background where all of us have been brought up in church and hold strong Christian beliefs.

             As I continued to engage my mother about our ancestry, I got to understand that our great grandfathers came along to the United States as slaves who later served as soldiers for the whites in the Caribbean War. After the war, my grandfather got the right to U.S. citizenship and that is how we got to settle up here. My mother says that if it were not for our grandfather, we would be born on Caribbean soil. However, through the service that our grandfather gave to the United States, we are now citizens by birth. The generation of my great grandfather and grandmother Dominic and Pearl is a critical cohort to us as a family. It made it possible for us to enjoy the American dream and that is why we hold an anniversary for them to remember their blood and sweat as well as the sacrifice that delivered us.

Social Economic Status (SES)

             The generation of my grandfather Manu and his wife also played a great role in the success of our family and our social status. First, my mother says that they were amongst the first generation to get a decent education and a formal job in the country. More importantly, they managed to get parcels of land as well as recognition in several rights bodies making it possible for the Caribbean communities to be integrated into the U.S. population.

They were also amongst the pioneers of the Caribbean rights movement, which has enabled us to live freely within the community although the struggle is yet to be over. I can say that if it were not for the fight by my grandfathers, my mother could not be given the custody of his children or even get the rights to a job or ownership of any properties. My mother tells me that it was a fierce battle between her and our father over our custody because the former was white. He was accorded more privileges than her but, at last, she got the breakthrough to the case and was given custody.

The minority groups, especially any immigrant groups such as the Caribbean and African have struggled to survive and get equal rights in Europe. For instance, the education sector is one that has seen many of our community struggle most. My mother tells me that there is a time when black children were not allowed to learn in the same schools as whites. I am thankful for the slight opportunity we got, which has made us go through to achieve our dreams. Regardless of the struggle, the gap especially in the education sector can still be felt. For instance, research by Demie (2019) indicates that black Caribbean students have been performing poorly in their final exams. Such statistics tell me that I am one privileged person and grateful to my mother and family for taking me through the best schools. Another glimpse of good tide includes witnessing black people get opportunities to lead. For example, in September 2016, the United States appointed the first black chief executive who would be the head of the Smithsonian museum which only deals with the history of African American s as well as their culture (Barber, 2019). Such a step reminded me of the progress which has been made so far and there is no two parallel American.

Family Values, Traditions, and Patterns

I believe that our family has a pattern of resilience and fight for success because that is the spirit that was passed down to us by our great grandfathers. For example, when most of the soldiers who were fighting together with my great grandfather did not make it, he was lucky to survive the German wounds. This is the fighting spirit that was passed to our grandfather who gets us where we are now. I see the fighting spirit in my mother every day as she made sure that we never lacked anything while we were growing up. She struggled as a single mother by working on two jobs just to get us a decent life and make sure we do not go hungry for a day.

Family Rules

 Our family has had closely guarded rules which were adopted as soon as my mother realized she was going to bring us up on her own. First, there were no roles for men or women in our family. We all did the house chores as we grow up, it did not matter which ones you are allocated to. Going to church was a must, especially for everyone until we were are done with high school. After that, everybody would choose what to stand for in their lives. Education was a must, no one was allowed to be a failure in the family and that kept the spirit of hard work in school.

Coalitions and Alliances

 In most cases, I would find myself in alliances with my brother to forfeit kitchen chores and cooking but that would not work because at the end of the day we ended up doing all while the girls were given a holiday. That is how I learned the hard way. I thought mum was tough on us but then she was preparing us for the life ahead. Nowadays, I cook for myself and just laugh because I would be asking someone to do it for me.

Who Are the Favorites?

 I would say that our mother is a favorite to us all and we have been unified even more through listening to her. Nevertheless, as a family, we all have grown fond of the extended family such that the culture that has been instilled in us will never be lost even when we are in school. We always ensure to observe the traditions and visit our cousins and uncles as often as we can.

How Emotion Is Expressed

Our family anniversaries are some of the emotional moments which make us even stronger as a family. For instance, as a family, we honor our mother whenever we get an opportunity because she is an embodiment of strength. My brother and sisters emphasize every day that our mother is the pillar of our family and it has given us the strength to pursue even greater things. I love my sisters so much because they have held my mothers’ hand for such a long time even those that are married. Being the last born, I just feel like I have many mothers around me and that makes me feel that my family is very special.

What Were the Boundaries?

 In a family, there are some boundaries. For us, some things were given to the boys and others to the girls. For instance, when we first set out to go camping, my brother and I were the only ones given the leeway to spend more time as well as do some dangerous activities including skiing and hill climbing. My sister was not into such adventures. We also played football while my sisters chose to watch cartoons. Such separations created boundaries even in the careers we chose.

What We Have Inherited and How Our Family Experience Has Impacted Us

             As children, we have inherited a lot from our mother including her character and belief in ourselves. Sometimes families are much disorganized after a divorce or separation. However, as a counselor, I thank the one specialist who helped my mother go through her time. My mother says that it was not a time she would want to look back to. However, she is grateful for the people who came into her life when all these things happened. She tells me that having family friends is very important to get you through certain times in life. For example, having a divorce case during the periods when white supremacy was so pronounced made her understand the need to be focused.

            Through the experience of my mother as well as that of the family as a whole, I have learned many things. First, I need to be myself in a world that is full of fake people. If I want to achieve anything in life, I do not need to follow the path that has been followed by many. I say this because, in the Caribbean culture, it was forbidden to divorce your spouse. However, my mother did not let her culture define who she was and what she wanted to achieve. She went against all odds to divorce an abusive husband and vowed to choose peace over culture. I am also made to believe that family is a great backbone in whatever path one wants to follow. My sisters have been an inspiration because they have followed their dreams and became the best in their careers. The reason behind it is having a strong foundation from our mother, who teaches us not to settle for any less. My grandfather, as am told, also did great things in hosting black lives and minority communities in their time.

References

Barber, S. (2019). The apocalypse of settler colonialism: The roots of slavery, white supremacy, and capitalism in seventeenth-century North America and the Caribbean, by Gerald Horne. New West Indian Guide/Nieuwe West-Indische Gids93(3-4), 289-290.

Demie, F. (2019). Raising the achievement of black Caribbean pupils: Good practice for developing leadership capacity and workforce diversity in schools. School Leadership & Management39(1), 5-25.

Pedigree.progenygenetics.com. (n.d.). https://pedigree.progenygenetics.com/

Venner, H., & Welfare, L. E. (2019). Black Caribbean immigrants: A qualitative study of experiences in mental health therapy. Journal of Black Psychology45(8), 639-660.

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