Nickcole described the loving support and protection provided by her grandmother, Dorothy: "Grandma watched out for all the grandkids as the neighborhood became more dangerous."
This deep connection between family members is the basis of the elasticity within African American families. It is often understood as interdependence, as reflected by the statement, "I am because you are and since you are, therefore I am." The idea is that one's sense of personal identity is so deeply connected with one's family, that when one family member is in pain, others feel it. When one family member is joyous, others are pleased as well. The loss of Terrell embodied new hope for the family. It is as if each of them became instilled with a bit of Terrell's possibilities.
African American Family Roles, Rules & Responsibilities
The family's connectivity is reflected throughout the documentary. Nickcole begins her story by describing the relationships among her grandmother, aunt, mother and their children. Dorothy supports the family through her steadfast resolve to care for her grandchildren during periods when her daughters struggled. Nickcole also commented about how she "kept going back to the projects because [her] family was there."
The family also demonstrates the seven principles in the Nguzo Saba, that reflect core values for African Americans, and serve to build and maintain family, community and culture. Unity is the first value and is seen in the Collins family's deep and enduring connection to one another. Self-determination is the second value and is seen in this family's dogged determination to work, find better living environments and become educated. Collective work and responsibility is the third value and is seen in the family's mutual assistance that they provide to one another. Cooperative economics is seen most through the mother and aunt sharing resources to provide for their collective children. We see purpose and creativity in each family member's desire to make a better way. Finally, faith is demonstrated in the family's recognition that although Terrell died, his death and their faith would lead to a better life for all of them.
In the documentary, few males were shown as impacting this family- Terrell, Jack, Kenny Butler, Johnny Pierre and Mike Byrnes. According to 1997 Department of Labor statistics, women head the households in approximately 47% of African American families.