My culture is the thing that defines me and my behavior. It influences my decisions and values in life. As I am African American, I have a bicultural identity, which means that both Africa and America are my homes. Today my culture is not the same as it used to be many years ago when Africans just came to the United States. The intersection of African and American culture identifies my personality. African American communities are widely spread in America. The number of members increases every year. My culture came from Africa and blended with European and American cultures. Its identity was established in the 18th-19th century. The belonging to the American and African culture at the same time made me more inclinable and amiable towards other cultures.
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My culture is my sanctuary, it defines who I am and influences my everyday life. Culture is the background we all have. There is a vast number of various cultures in the world; however, just one is dear to my heart. It shows me the way to my individuality and explains where did I come from and where will I go. As I am African American, I have a bicultural identity, which means for me that I have two homes (Moodian, 2009).
However, my culture is not the same as it used to be many years ago. The intersection of African and American culture identifies my personality. It shows that I am not static; dynamics and adaptation are familiar to me. I believe that each generation of my family changes cultural elements. Thus, the children are taught to reveal the altered culture and its values. To be more precise, I would like to talk about such things as history, music, aesthetics, family, religion, and holidays.
African American communities are widely spread in the United States. The number of members increases every year. African Americans are strong-willed people who rubbed through enslavement and discrimination. Starting with the day when Africans were brought to the United States in the 17th century, we always meet resistance and resentment from some representatives of other communities (Healey, 2012). Of course, today the situation is much better than it used to be, but it is still possible to face people who treat you like a second-rate person. Luckily, I do not usually encounter them. My position is to neglect such individuals.
My culture came from West and Central Africa and blended with European and American cultures. Its identity was established in the 18th-19th century and was greatly influenced by the adoption of Christianity. For a long time, it was developing apart from the European American culture, as people had no wish to cooperate. Nevertheless, today’s cultural criss-cross is undeniable.
African American Music
I want to talk about music, as believe that this is the first thing people recollect when they think about my culture. Michael Jackson, Whitney Huston, Beyonce, Tina Turner, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Luis Armstrong – these names know everyone as they are popular even abroad. I am proud that I have the same culture as these people.
African American music is not just some melody and words. More old genres as blues, ragtime, swing, and jazz include the burden of the history and life lessons, and they transfuse emotions, subside negative ones and enhance positive ones. Each song is sure to get out a particular message.
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Contemporary music is more connected with American culture and concentrates on hip-hop and rap that is very popular among American teenagers and youth. I think that music is the cultural element that makes people unite and forget about their differences.
The culture forms not only our behavior but also the way we look. Our traditional clothing is made of kente or mud cloth of vibrant colors and is worn with different jewelry that often resembles trade beads (Carroll, 2000). Today only a few people continue dressing like that. However, this look appeals to me. I wear more neutral clothes that do not reveal my culture, as it is the way how the majority of people in the United States dress. Still, I love vibrant colors, which proves that I have not lost the thread of African American culture.
Generally, African American women prefer to wear the hair in a natural state. Some style it in the twist outs or braid outs, and some choose the afro or braids. Often women straighten the hair. I think it is great to have an opportunity to experiment and find what suits you the most. Still, I have pointed out that commonly people from different cultures believe the natural state of hair to be socially acceptable.
Today many European Americans wear African hairdressers while African Americans straighten and lighten the hair, which shows the reciprocal cultural influence.
African American culture finds rituals an important part of life. Family reunions are one of them. There is no doubt that now people from my community hold these reunions in various ways; however, some unchanged things are left. I believe that the aim of these rituals is to keep and hand down a legacy that is why the elders are sure to be present. For some families, it is almost a religious event, but I do not treat it like that.
Large family gatherings are not routine practice for me and my parents, but I appreciate my family and like to spend some time with them. It does not happen like a ceremony and looks more like an evening with my nearest and dearest. We have dinner and share the latest news. This seems to be the influence of American culture, as such a thing is a common practice for them also. And even though we do not have some unusual and highly spiritual event, it gathers the family and reveals our nature.
Religion and Holidays
African Americans practice various religions, which influences the culture. However, the majority of people are followers of Protestant Christianity. According to it, all people are equal in God’s eyes. I think that this belief was one of those that made African Americans fight for the rights. Even now the concept of equality, which is common in many religions, inspires people to defend themselves, their freedom, and their rights.
As African American culture merges into American one, we celebrate some of each other’s holidays. For example, the birthday of African American leader Martin Luther King is accepted by all Americans. Black History Month is an observance that makes the population of the United States remembers the American history and role of African Americans (Winchester, 2000).
I am African American, and I love my culture. To my mind, belonging to the American and African culture at the same time made me more inclinable and amiable towards other cultures. I appreciate the things I gain from my background and with understanding the roots of some aspects of life influenced by culture, I become more tolerant of others.
Of course, my culture will not always be the same. There are different cultures in America, and they influence one another through people. However, there will always be something specific about it, and further generations will learn these peculiarities to follow and accomplish them.
Carroll, M. (2000). Stylin’: African American expressive culture from its beginnings to the zoot suit. Journal of American Culture, 22(2), 311-356.
Healey, J. F. (2012). Diversity and society: Race, ethnicity, and gender. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Moodian, M. A. (2009). Contemporary leadership and intercultural competence: Exploring the cross-cultural dynamics within organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Winchester, F. (2000). African American holidays. Mankato, MN: Capstone.