The organization of Black West Indian kinship and marriage in the United States is a function of length of residence in the country (preversus post-World War II) and the social Status of the family (working class versus middle or upper class). Because most Black West Indians come from islands that were once colonies of England, middle- and upper-class People usually follow mainstream European practices including bilateral descent, monogamous marriage, small nuclear Families, and Eskimo kin terms. For the pre-World War II population, the family was the most important social institution, and cooperation and loyalty among family members were expected with the husband/father the head of the family. The family remains a vital institution in the West Indian Community, although the husband/father leadership role has weakened and mother-child households are now more common, with the arrival of many younger female immigrants since the late 1960s. Since that time, perhaps the most common form of immigration entailed a young woman arriving first and then later bringing her children and sometimes her husband.
American marriages among Black West Indians are highly endogamous with a marked preference for a marriage partner from the same island as oneself. Marriage to African-Americans usually involves a West Indian man and an African-American woman.