African American Cultural Background Summary

The term culture refers to traditions and customs acquired through learning. These customs play a major part in developing one’s behavior and beliefs. Children adapt various behaviors by being brought up in an environment where people practice them. This process is known as acculturation. Culture may constantly change as communities interact with one another. However, some cultural beliefs remain unaltered. For instance, in African-American culture there has been persistence of enculturation. When children fail to finish their meals, they are reminded of other children who might be starving. This makes them ensure that they always finish their meals. The culture has been carried forward for a long time despite some of other practices being dropped with time. Despite, the Americans believing that every one is entitled to making his or her own decisions and that he or she has the right to his or her decision, enculturation has led to most of the African-Americans sharing their decisions and beliefs with others (Rhodes, 2009, Par. 7).

African-American culture in the United States resulted due to the arrival of Americans who had some African cultural practices. On their arrival, they integrated their culture to that of the Americans. The culture is entrenched in Africa and is mainly composed of sub-Saharan and Sahelean beliefs. Despite slavery denying African Americans the right to practice their traditions, most of their beliefs persisted and with time they have been integrated with European American customs. This led to the emergence of a vibrant culture that continues to influence the American mainstream culture and other cultures in the world. For many years, the culture developed disjointedly from mainstreaming American customs due to racial discrimination. African Americans also preferred to uphold their own traditions. This made them not to relate with other customs. For African Americans, they believed in the spirit of togetherness where every member of the society was treated equally despite his or her status. There was great social class cooperation where those fortunate came together in support of the less fortunate in the society (Rhodes, 2009, Par. 8-11).

The whites curtailed education of the African Americans as they thought that by educating them, they would become superior hence revolt against slavery. This led to the community preserving its customs through oral tradition. Customs could be passed from one generation to another through story telling. Stories helped African Americans in teaching and rousing one another. Even today, inheritance of African American oral tradition shows itself in varied ways. Preachers of African American decent prefer acting rather than just speaking. Congregation’s feelings are attracted by the preacher’s movement, attitude and volume. Mostly, the sermons are interlude by verses, dances and songs in between (Smith, 2009, Par. 2).

Initially, it was hard for African Americans to interact with the whites due to racial discrimination. This facilitated in them being capable of preserving their identity. With time, they started being assimilated to other communities through marriages and schooling. This led to them adopting varied practices from these communities while dropping others that they had obeyed for long. For example, they had great value on extended family where they could share different responsibilities among themselves. Every family member could assume responsibilities of another without difficulties. With time, this trend has been eroded as the community assimilates to the culture of the whites. Extended families have now been an issue of the past with every African American family being made up of the nuclear family. People could pool together all their resources and share among themselves with those who were less fortunate regardless of whether they belong to their family. There were no cases of social status in the society with the learned and the rich freely interacting with poor members of their community. Today, there has been development of classes within African American culture with the rich detaching themselves from the poor members of the society. This started when African Americans who were slaves started being desegregated. The whites perceived that unity of African Americans led to them not being cooperative as they could assist each other in times of hardships. Desegregating them meant that those who were poor could only receive assistance from the whites making them cooperate. Assimilation and desegregation meant that African Americans could no longer remain in their initial communal organizations leading to disintegration of extended families (Smith, 2009, Par. 5).

Despite African Americans being assimilated to other cultures, they have been able to preserve some of their cultures such as music, religion and dance.

Reference list

Rhodes, H. A. (2009). The African-American Family in Crisis. Web.

Smith, P. A. (2009). A Validation of the African American Acculturation Scale In a Sample of African American College Students. Web.

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