MYPERSONAL CONNECTION TO AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE
MyPersonal Connection to African American Culture
African-Americanculture in the United States of America entails the diversetraditions of all the existing African ethnic groups (Boyd-Franklin,2013). This culture can also be defined as that of the black ethnicgroups of Africa. Despite the fact that slavery barred the AfricanAmericans from fully practicing their culture, their beliefs andvalues have remained intact only that they have acculturated some fewelements of the European Americans. The African American culture hasconsequently flourished into a dynamic creative culture that hasrecorded a significant impact on the world culture.
Overcenturies, the African American culture has conserved their distinctcultural traditions about religion, music, food, literature, artamongst others. In most cases, African American culture flourishedseparately from the European American culture as a result of therampant racism in America (Small, 2011). Consequently, the AfricanAmerican culture not only forms a significant part of the Americanculture but also retains its distinction from the mainstream Americanculture. This paper will provide an in-depth exploration in light ofmy connection with African American culture through music, religion,and food.
TheAfrican-American music has its roots in the system of the Africanethnic groups including those of Sahelian, Western and the region ofsub-Saharan (Small, 2011). My connection to the African Americanmusic was through singing while playing the djembe, a traditionalWest African drum that forms part of the African American culture. Igot a chance of wearing clothes that were nicely printed using thecloth patterns of traditional kente. After engaging myself deeplyinto the African American music, I realized that they used music inthe transmission of their history in slavery to the youngergenerations. These were aimed at teaching lessons, relaying messagesas well as ease the pain and suffering they went through (Small,2011). Similarly, I realized that the African American music wasdistinct from mainstream American music with reference to itsstandard elements including syncopation, swung notes, improvisation,call and response, blue notes and multi-part harmony.
Similarly,I learned that most African Americans were fond of singing theAmerican national anthem besides “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”This song is usually sung to express their optimism in the future aswell as recall their past struggles and express their solidarityamong their ethnicity. African American music has been growing sincethe 1800’s down to the 20th century (Small, 2011). African Americanmusic has rapidly developed in the major European-Americanpopulation.
Whilethere are various religions for the Africans Americans, the mostpopular religion stands out as Protestants (Small, 2011). Being aChristian, I joined the church of the African American Christians. Irealized the church lacked the freedom to religious practice. Themost interesting part of the African American church is theirenthusiastic singing coupled with dance, with a soft enhancement ofAfrican rhythms. In the Christian African American churches, we weretaught and made to understand on our equality before the eyes of ourcreator, God. Additionally, we were taught how always to have hopesand focus so as to achieve a brighter future.
During the Christmas holidays, we attended a Christmas play wherethe African American Christians gave their praises as well as prayedto the Almighty God. Productions have been made about AfricansChristian songs and are available at their entire churches nationwideas well as the African American theaters.
Besides the Christianity population that I joined, the remainingpopulation of African Americans comprises of Muslims, Buddhists whileothers followed Judaism. I learned that the religions’ teachingsvaried from one religion to another (Boyd-Franklin, 2013). I cameinto contact with a smaller group of African Americans whoparticipated in the traditional African religions. I noted that mostof them originated from the Caribbean and South America. Thoseembracing traditional African religious practices received negativetreatment from the mainstream Americans, and they were sometimesprone to punishment and harassment.
MostAfrican American foods vividly reflected their creativity responsesto poverty, economic oppression and racially based harassments(Boyd-Franklin, 2013). The most common food for the African Americansconsisted of candied yams, fried chicken, corn bread, collard greens,cheese and macaroni. I realized the use of several agriculturalproducts in the U.S.A was rooted in the African American influences. I learned that during the slavery period, African Americans werebarred from eating any better meat and similarly most of them werefinancially strained to afford the meat.
I learned on how to cook the ordinary meal for African Americans, thecuisine whereby we used affordable products that we obtained throughfishing, farming, and hunting. We boiled the pig intestines and friedthem to come up with chitterlings. I also had a chance to preparesome other meals including fried chicken, fish, corn bread, macaroni,black-eyed piece and rice though these meals required only simplepreparations.
As a result of health consciousness by many African Americans, thereis more emphasis on the consumption of vegetables and fruits ascompared to animal protein (Boyd-Franklin, 2013). Other healthconsciousness reforms include reducing the amount of refined sugarused in desserts as well as replacing trans-fats with naturalvegetable oils.
Conclusively,by engaging myself with the African American culture through musicreligion and foods, it is evident that most African Americans are thedescendants of the slaves who used to work on the southernplantations. As a way of seeking their identity, theAfrican-Americans decided to come up with their cultural traditionsbased on oral tradition, arts, community and their faith. AfricanAmerican culture has remained to be among the distinct andconservative cultures nationwide.
Boyd-Franklin,N. (2013). Black families in therapy: Understanding the AfricanAmerican experience. Guilford Publications.
Small,C. (2011). Music of the common tongue: Survival and celebration inAfrican American music. Wesleyan University Press.