What are the signs of strength and persistence of survival strategies that African Americans have adopted in countering social and economic challenges? Some of the social and economic challenges I am interested in are racism, impact of HIV/Aids, rising unemployment, inequities in the US justice system, and health disparities.

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I think the importance of the family unit, and the presence of more matriarchal system within the African American community have been important survival strategies. With high and ever increasing rates of incarceration for African American males, it is the women who are the heads of household and the larger extended family unit. These women are the rocks of the society and rely on each other in great deal to continue the family unit. African American families rely on the extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc) to survive in a society where the immediate family unit is often broken. 

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The main sign of strength and persistence of these survival strategies is the continuing strength of the church in the black community.  The black church has long been one of the most important social institutions in the African American community.  There is some academic controversy about how strong the church still is, but it seems to remain as one of the few legitimate (outside of things like gangs) organizations that remains in the lower-class black community today.  The black church remains as the most obvious example of an African American self-help organization.  It shows that African Americans continue to struggle to improve their status in the face of the social problems that you mention.

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