- May 5, 2020
Background of the Diverse Group
The African-American community comprises about 14.3 percent of theAmerican population (Blackdemographcs.com, 2016). African-Americansare U.S residents who usually have been raised there, but have anAfrican descent. The term “black” is used more generally to referto individuals of the African origin, including those who have beenin the U.S. since the slavery era and more recent immigrants. Theancestors of most African Americans came into the U.S as slaves manyyears ago, against their will. However, the enslavement was onlyphysical. They retained their spiritual and mental independencedespite the oppression. Despite the political forces and attempts tomake them compromise their ways of life, they had enough culturalleverage autonomy to cause the development of a new American culture(Asante, 2012). The physical isolation of the group was outstandinglyinstrumental in the retaining of their culture. The culture of thecommunity comprises of many forms of art, music, cultural ceremonies,and storytelling. Their motherland, Africa has a rich culture.
Since slavery, family has been a bedrock of the African-Americanculture. Family reunions have helped in maintaining the culturalheritage over the years. While there is a variation in the mannerthey are conducted today they are still relevant. They havereemerged in this century as vehicles of cohesiveness of theAfrican-American Community. They give recognition and purpose to theolder generation in the society who are the custodians of the culture(King, 2014). Culture comprises of attributes, knowledge, art, moralsand laws that people acquire as members of a particular society. Itis an identifying factor of people of the same group (Ang & Dyne,2015). Today, there is a lot of cultural diversity in the UnitesStates, owing to immigration. Learning about the cultures ofdifferent groups helps one understand them and interact effectivelywith them. This essay will discuss the African-American culture. Itwill explore the background, their cultural activities and report apersonal experience at a Thanksgiving ceremony with anAfrican-American family.
The Thanksgiving ceremony is an opportunity for a reunion for blackfamilies. They gather around dining tables to celebrate and catch upwith each other (Anderson, 2015). The festival is characterized by alot of food such as the turkey, chicken, sweet potato pie, potatosalad, cranberry sauce dressing and plenty of vegetables (Pinn,2015). Over and above the aspect of food and making merry, the day isalso important for showing appreciation for each other. EveryThanksgiving Day, families invite their friends and the lessfortunate to dine and socialize with them. It is common to find theelder members of the family take the opportunity when majority of theyounger members of the family are all collected together to educatethem about their roots. For instance, you may find them using oldphotographs of the family patriarchs and those that hold importantmemories to educate them on the same. To African-Americans, theessence of Thanksgiving is coming together (Lynd, 2015).
The African-American culture today is associated with the urbanculture because a large population of blacks resides in the innercities (Neal, 2015). Music is a fundamental element of this culture.African – Americans invented the Jazz and Blues genres, capturingmusic’s significance to them (Shuker, 2016). Today, there are manyAfrican- American involved in rap, rhythm, and blues music. However,the most outstanding genre is hip-hop. Many African- American artistsuse it to express the issues that go on around them, such as crime,frustration, poverty, and gangs, which a majority of black people hasexperienced at some point in their lives (Mtambuzi, 2015).
Summary of the Experience
The annual Thanksgiving Day that falls on every fourth Thursday ofNovember is arguably the most popular holiday in American culture.The first time it as celebrated was in 1798 on a national level. Ittraces its origins to the ancient harvest festival, what Americansrefer to as the “First Thanksgiving” was the event in 1621whereby pilgrims and Native Americans came together in a three-daylong feast celebrating a successful farming season (Tierney, 2012).The holiday’s value is anchored in bringing loved ones togetherand, just as importantly, having a feast together. It compares onlyto the Winter Solstice in the Chinese culture, regarding the emphasison family and the elaborate cooking. Thanksgiving is a nationalholiday and, therefore, all public offices close down and all peopleat home. Each family has its version of events that they undertake onthis holiday, and I was part of the celebrations in a black family atthe heart of a black community.
Extensive preparations went into the holiday, mostly revolvingaround shopping for the food that the family would enjoy on theall-important day. It is striking how much investment goes into thepreparations. The families go out shopping as early as a week inadvance of the holiday to avoid the last minute rush and also toensure convenience on the holiday. When the day arrives, every memberof the family knew their role in preparation for the holiday. Themother of the house is in charge of all meals while her olderdaughters, nieces, and other close relatives helped her out (Tierney,2012). The young ones were not left out either, as they were assignedthe role of rearranging all the seats and added some more. It wouldbe a gathering so big that the normal family’s room arrangementwould not suffice. Noticeably, the man of the house had no role toplay, and so he went outside the house where the men from the otherfamilies sat talking among themselves.
In the midmorning hours, we all set out to a nearby high school whereI would find out that the first-born son in the family I was stayingwith was a local American Football star. We watched a game betweenthe local high school and nearby rivals. I learned that this was alocal tradition in this community, as was enjoying a NationalFootball League (NFL) match on the television later in the evening.Upon the return to the house, the meal was nearly ready, so everyonesettled in the living room where there were drinks for everyone. Themen sat together and a political debate soon ensued.
They discussed a wide range of issues, starting with recentpresidential election results, where despite the differences beforethe election, all the men agreed that they there was nothing more tobe done but accept the results and move on. They discussed the BlackLives Mater movement and the effect it was having across the nation.Although the movement was advocating for action on cases thatoccurred in states hundreds of miles away, the sense of belonging andidentity that they exuded in the discussion was striking. All thiswhile, they asked for my views one every issue in attempts to involveme in the debate.
It was not until time for the mean when I realized just how manypeople were gathered in the same house. On inquiry, I was informedthat in the black community, family means more than just siblings andtheir parents. Being time to spend with loved ones, Thanksgiving wasthe one day all the members of the extended family came together inone of the houses and made merry. The food was quite the spectaclethere were two roast stuffed turkeys and an array of side dishes, yetthe people joked that they would still not be enough. The food wassufficient, however, with a little left over. One notable thingthroughout the dinner was the energy and camaraderie in the room.Everyone was friendly, encouraging each other to eat as much as theycould.
There was no discrimination, and even the homeless people invited fordinner were encouraged to take part in the conversation. Notably,everyone was very candid in conversation, speaking their mind with nofear. Peculiarly, family members were still coming in long after therest of us had settled and no one reprimanded. Similarly, I notedthat towards the end of the dinner no one was in a hurry to leave. Itwas clear that they enjoyed the loud conversation, music, dancing,browsing old photograph albums, and everything else that they didtogether. Eventually, the guests started leaving after midnight,although a good number of them remained sprawled on the couches,where they spent the night. Luckily for them, the following day was aholiday in their state as well.
The next day was “Black Friday,” the customary day when festiveseason shopping f commenced, yet another similarity betweenThanksgiving and the Winter Solstice. The local shops offered specialprices on a majority of the products. Most of the community membersvalued this last Thanksgiving tradition. My host family took me to anearby shopping mall where they did some shopping for their householdand bought gifts for their families, I included. As we drove back, Ireflected on my Thanksgiving experience in an African-Americanhousehold and what I had learned about them (Tierney, 2012). Theywere kind, inviting, vivacious, open-minded, vocal, and above allvery united.
In conclusion, my experience with the African-American family wasquite edifying. I learned a lot about their ways of life as Iexperienced it firsthand at one of the most significant times of theyear. Given, I would encourage anyone who interacts with this cultureto be energetic and vocal, as they take silence to be a sign ofconceitedness. They are also very open-minded and, therefore, readyto discuss a wide range of topics boisterously so one should not beafraid of having candid discussions. Finally, they are veryclosely-knit and, thus, one should avoid conflict with blackcommunity members. They are so loyal to each other and defend eachother ferociously.
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BlackDemographics.com. 2015 Black Population: 46.3 million, 14.4% ofUSA. Retrieved from < http://blackdemographics.com/>
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