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American and African Culture

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The African American culture includes different cultural traditions of African-American communities. It is more famously named as the Black culture. According to McKinnon, The United States Census Bureau the African Americans as people who have origins in any of the Black race groups that came from Africa. Before the Civil War, the Africans were held as slaves in America.

As slaves, their rights to exercise and practice their cultures and traditions were restricted. Nevertheless, there were some traditions that were kept alive up to the day of their liberation after the Civil War until it was recognized to build and identity as African American Culture. The way of survival of such traditions was to blend with some of the elements of the culture in America or the American Culture.

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This paper serves as a descriptive essay that shall include the following aspects of the African American Culture; Meanings of colors; Social Customs; Concept of Time; Clothing and Food; Religion; Marriage, Birth, Death (whether there are special rituals associated with any of these); Holiday; Ethical values; Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication. The African American Culture is also a mixture of other cultures because as salves, the Africans needed to blend with the American Culture in order that their culture may survive.

It also has blended with the European culture due to the influence of European culture to American Culture. The survival of the African American Culture is a symbol in itself that speaks of the persistence of the Africans to liberate them from slavery and eventually establish an identity of their own through their cultures and traditions. Meanings of colors Use caution when teaching about color symbolism. Symbolism of colors vary from culture to culture.

Color is considered one of the most useful and powerful design tools you have. People respond to different colors in different ways, and these responses take place on a subconscious, emotional level. In African American culture, black has long been associated with death, while white is believed to signify life and purity. In the African American culture, the black has also come to suggest sophistication and formality. Americans generally associate trust stability with the color blue. Social Customs and Ethical values

The Social customs in the African American culture includes a variety and form of slave based custom since they have been enslaved for a long time. The social customs involves the social and political issues where the African Americans continue to struggle. Before the Civil War, the African slaves were not given the right to vote, but when the Voting Right’s Act was passed, African Americans then were allowed to vote and elected in public office. Another aspect of the social custom of the African Americans is their concept of family.

Due to the chattel slavery that was practiced before in America, it was rare for slave families to be sold apart from each other as separate sales. Nevertheless, after the years of slavery, the families of African Americans became a recognized unit of the society, which serves as the backbone in organizing a community. The nature of the families and communities built by African Americans are patriarchal but women are also recognized to help in the raising of the family. Mutual aid is also practiced by extended families through childcare, emotional, and economic support.

African Americans have close family ties thus; it is easy for the older generations to pass on their cultures and traditions to the new generations who in turn will pass such to the future generations to come. The younger members of the family also put a high regard for their elders that they themselves take care of their elders instead of opting for private care. This strong ties of the African American families keeps their family together thus creating a stronger society. Concept of Time

The African American concept of time is still based on their being once a slave who are compelled to wake up early before sunrise to get to work and then sleep late at night after fixing all that is needed for tomorrow’s work. The African Americans have always been hardworking. For the African Americans who were raised from the doom of slavery, time is a very important concept to success. Clothing The clothing of the African Americans has been influenced by the modern fashion and West African traditional clothing to create a uniquely African American traditional style. The best-known African textile is the “Kente Cloth”.

According to an article on African traditional clothing, “Kente cloth is woven in colorful and festive patterns that are present in many different varieties which were genuinely made by Ashanti and Ewe who came from Ghana and Togo that which according to history, it was fabric that are used to make the clothes for the royalties during the early times until it eventually became a common clothing for the African Americans that ranges from casual t-shirts to formal bow ties and cummerbands, and also head ties for women. ” Food Food for the African Americans is one way of bringing a family together.

The traditional cook out is one of the most renowned heritage of the African American families. This is a once a week event where families gather and simply cook the best food for their family just at their backyard. After which they enjoy themselves with simple cocktails and listening to soulful music with soulful dances. According to the History of Soul food, “the gardening cultivation and use of many agricultural products in the United States, such as yams, peanuts, rice, okra, sorghum, grits, watermelon, indigo dyes, and cotton can be draw from African impact.

Such African American foods manifest ingenious replies to racial and economic repression. Under slavery, African Americans were not permitted to eat better cuts of meat, and after liberation, many frequently were too underprivileged to manage to pay for them. Soul food, a hearty cuisine generally related with African Americans in the South, makes ingenious use of low-priced products acquired through farming and substinence hunting and fishing. Pig intestines are boiled and sometimes pound and fried to make “chitterlings”.

Ham hocks and neck bones offer seasoning to soups; bean and boiled greens. Other common foods, such as fried chicken, and fish, cornbread and hoppin john are simply prepared. ” Religion “While African Americans practice a number of religions, Protestant Christianity is by far the most popular. ” “Additionally, 14% of Muslims in the United States and Canada are African American. ” A river baptism in New Bern, North Carolina near the turn of the 20th century. “The religious culture of African American Christians is known as the Black church.

During slavery, many slaves were stripped of their African belief systems and typically denied free religious practice. However, slaves managed to hang on to some practices by integrating them into Christian worship in secret meetings. These practices, including dance, shouts, African rhythms, and enthusiastic singing, remain a large part of worship in the Black church. Black churches taught that all people were equal in God's eyes and viewed the doctrine of obedience to ones master taught in White churches as hypocritical.

” “Instead the Black church focused on the message of equality and hopes for a better future. ” “Before and after emancipation, racial segregation in America prompted the development of organized Black Denominations. The first of these was the AME Church founded by Richard Allen in 1787. ” “A Black church is not necessarily a separate denomination. Several predominantly Black churches exist as members of predominantly White denominations. ” “Black churches have served to provide Blacks with leadership positions and opportunities to organize that were denied in mainstream American society.

Because of this Black pastors became the bridge between the Black and White communities and thus played a crucial role in the American Civil Rights Movement. ” On the other hand, “generations before the advent of the Atlantic slave trade, Islam was a thriving religion in West Africa. Slaves in the Americas were often forcibly converted to Christianity and while first-generation slaves were often able to retain their Muslim identity, their descendants were not. In the decades after slavery, some Black leaders sought to provide freed slaves with self-esteem and an opportunity to reconnect with their Islamic roots.

The best known of these movements is the Black Nationalist and Black supremacist Nation of Islam founded by Wallace Fard in 1930 and lead by Elijah Muhammad from 1934. But much like Malcolm X, who left the Nation of Islam in 1960, many African American Muslims now follow traditional Islam. ” Marriage, Birth, Death (are there special rituals associated with any of these? ) The bride in an African American wedding refers to the tradition of Yoruba. This very spiritual service reflects the depth of the African family by the sharing of gifts and love. The ceremony process may begin about a month before the wedding with a spiritual reading.

Elements of the actual ceremony may include a Libation (a prayer with an offering, usually water or liquor offered by an elder). This ritual calls upon and asks God's blessing and the blessings of ancestral spirits. The groom verbally seeks permission from the bride's mother to marry her daughter. Gifts are presented to the brides’ family symbolizing the ability of the groom to take care of this woman. They are accepted by the bride's father. Other elements of the ceremony may include a tasting and explanation of spices, prayers, exchange of rings.

A great celebration follows. Holiday The African Americans are festive in nature that they like other ethnic groups celebrate holidays and commemorate events in honor of their heroes and patrons. One of the most famous African American Holiday is the Black History Month, which is a month long celebration where they commemorate their experiences of slavery until their emancipation from oppression. This includes the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln who were the considered African American heroes during the Civil War.

Another holiday is the Martin Luther Day in commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr. he was also one African American Hero who they owe their liberation. Kwanzaa is a colorful festival invented by an activist named “Maulana” Ron Karenga in 1966 as intended to be an alternative for the celebration of Christmas. Moreover is the Emancipation Day where they celebrate their freedom from slavery in the United States. Finally is the Malcolm X Day, which is an event to commemorate the achievements of Malcolm X, another nationalist during the civil war. Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication

Generations of hardships imposed on the African American community created distinctive language patterns. Slave owners often intentionally mixed people who spoke different African languages to discourage communication in any language other than English. This, combined with prohibitions against education, led to the development of pidgins, simplified mixtures of two or more languages that speakers of different languages could use to communicate. “Examples of pidgins that became fully developed languages include Creole, common to Haiti, and Gullah, common to the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia.

” African American Vernacular English is a type variety (dialect, ethnolect and sociolect) of the American English language spoken by some African Americans that shares some grammatical and orthographically features with Creole and West African languages. While AAVE is academically considered to be a legitimate dialect, it is often viewed by teachers and other members of the middle-class, regardless of race or ethnicity, as either slang or the result of a poor understanding of the English language. ” References

Berlin, Ira. Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America. Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998. Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or, Gustavus Vassa, the African, Written by Himself. Edited by Shelley Eversley. New York: Modern Library, 2004. Morgan, Philip D. Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake and Lowcountry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Wood, Peter H.

Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion. New York: Knopf, 1974; New York: Norton, 1975. James A. McMillin Wrapped in Pride: Ghanaian Kente and African American Identity. National Museum of African Art. Retrieved on May 17, 2007. A History of Soul Food. 20th Century Fox. Retrieved on 2007-06-02. Jonsson, Patrik (February 06, 2006). Backstory: Southern discomfort food. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved on 2007-06-02. The Study of African American Religion. Harvard University. Retrieved on 2007-06-01.

American Muslims Population Statistics. Council on American-Islamic Relations. Retrieved on 2007-05-22. Maffly-Kipp, Laurie. African American Religion, Pt. I: To the Civil War. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved on May 15, 2007. Maffly-Kipp, Laurie F. (May 2001). The Church in the Southern Black Community. University of North Carolina. Retrieved on May 21, 2007. Maffly-Kipp, Laurie F. (May 2001). The Church in the Southern Black Community. University of North Carolina. Retrieved on May 21, 2007. Amazing grace: 50 years of the Black church.

Ebony (April 1995). Abdul Alkalimat and Associates. Religion and the Black Church, 6th, Introduction to Afro-American Studies, Chicago: Twenty-first Century Books and Publications. Huda. African-American Muslims. About. com. Retrieved on 2007-06-02. Eisenberg, Carol (January 22, 2005). Black Muslims seek acceptance from fellow Americans, adherents. The Seattle Times. Retrieved on 2007-06-02. Dale, Maryclaire (August 9, 2003). African Religions Attracting Americans. African Traditional Religion. afgen. com. Retrieved on 2007-06-02.

American and African Culture essay

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