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What Is African American Culture?
Many have discussed the African American Culture, and what they believe it entails. Whether it concerns the food we eat; the vernacular we use; the style of our dress; the choice of our music—we have developed a definition that has been widely accepted by most.
One should look at the meaning of the word Culture, and gain an understanding. There are many definitions for culture. Consider the definition given by TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages):
Culture: the sum total of the ways of life of a people; includes norms, learned behavior patterns, attitudes, and artifacts; also involves traditions, habits or customs; how people behave, feel and interact; the means by which they order and interpret the world; ways of perceiving, relating and interpreting events based on established social norms; a system of standards for perceiving, believing, evaluating, and acting. www.tesol.org/assoc/k12standards/it/10.html
Culture is simply a style of living that is associated with a particular race; characterized by the style and choices associated with the majority of its people, that have been passed down through traditions, from generation to generation. This, however, does not mean that one race has exclusivity on a particular style or manner of doing something; especially in the times we live in, where there is such a diversity and mixture of cultures and ethnicities.
The African-American culture itself, is rich in diversity. There is an eclectic mix of ethnicities and dialects that comprise the African-American culture; ranging from traditions, clothing, food, speech, etc.. One is apt to find in the African-American culture, things that are similar to other cultures, such as: Cuba, Africa, West Indies, and even European culture. However, the African-American culture, as diverse as it is, takes pride in the culture that it has passed down through the generations in America, considering the painstaking task of overcoming the hurdles and oppression caused by slavery.
In slavery times, African-Americans were not only stripped from their homeland; they were stripped of their names, their heritage, and their culture. Many generations were born without knowing truly where they came from or, what their beliefs were or, what their culture consisted of. Although, there were a few slaves that did manage to pass down some things to their children; so forth and so on. Much of it was said to be Folklore (Traditions passed down in stories from one generation to the next in a culture). Folklore is sometimes considered to be inaccurate or, grandiose fabrications taking on larger than life characters. However the case; folklore was another way in passing along, and preserving one’s culture, for the slave and former slave.
There is nothing wrong in celebrating and embracing one’s culture. It is who we are. It can drive us and perpetuate us into various stanzas and seasons of life. Culture can also hinder us, if we are not opened to learning about other cultures. It’s of value to know where one comes from, and where one is going. It’s also good to know, where other’s have come from, and perhaps why they do and believe what they do. Maybe we could take the time and, not only get to know about ourselves; but also, get to know about someone else.
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