Throughout the 1900's, social scientists have debated the question of whether the African American family is an adaptative social system or whether it is pathological, perpetuating its poverty over the generations. This article examines the holistic perspective as the preeminent comprehensive approach in studying the African American family and provides empirical evidence of distinctive features of the African American family in support of the adaptation argument. The adaptation/deficit debate will probably continue as long as the scientific community fails to fully acknowledge and make the most of theoretical constructs that are holistic in principle and design.

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