To understand one’s culture is one of the most important life-changing journeys an individual may embark upon. This paper will tell the cultural background of my family. I am an African American woman who was born in the South and have enjoyed some of the aspects associated with being African American, a woman, and a Collins, as well as had some disappointments in relation to all the above characteristics.
My African American Cultural Family Background
History of How Africans became American
When a person begins their search for the history of African-Americans, many historical articles begin with the slave trade when in fact to gain a thorough understanding of the African American culture; we must go back a little further. According to Carr (2012), Africa is the where everyone human originated. By 3,000 B.C, Africa had so many people that they began forming kingdoms. The first kingdom was Egypt (Carr, 2012).
There the kingdom building pyramids along the Nile River. To make a long story short, the African kingdoms were conquered by Roman empire and then later when the Portguese explorers, who were also traders, arrived to later conquer most of Africa around 1500 AD (Carr, 2012).
A lot of African Americans and other races think that the Europeans came to Africa and began taking Africans, but this is far from the truth of how the slave trade actually started. The slave trade began domestically kings and hierarchical regimes used slaves. Slaves were considered a sign of status and power. The start of the 18th century, Kings of Dahomey were dominant in the capture of over 10, 000 Africans. These kings thought the slave trade was their way to wealth (BBC World Service, 2011).
Eric Williams thesis entitled “Capitalism and slavery” is not a study on the nature of the slave trade, but rather a study of the role of slavery in the English economy. In his thesis Williams proposes the idea that capitalism is a result of the Atlantic slave trade. Williams defines capitalism as when someone can use their resources to make a profit without that person actually being ...
So the slave trade was very much established before Europeans began trading with Africa. Women were also captured to be used as sex slaves (BBC World Service, 2011).
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In 1518, slaves began being captured from Europeans and the Atlantic slave trade began to the Americas. Slaves were treated much harshly and were quite different from how the slaves were treated in Africa and Europe. Slaves were detested because of the color of their skin. (BBC World Service, 2011).
So as you can see, the slavery is rooted much deeper than we would like to assume.
Currently, the African American population accounts for about 13.3%. 1.1 million of these identified African American have come from Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, and Nigeria (McGoldrick, 2005).
These phenomenal events have surely shaped my culture. As I think of a lot of the challenges my culture faces: neighborhood crime, high rate of fatal diseases, racism, poverty, and the absence of fathers. My Family’s Cultural Background
The challenges I named above, I fortunately have not direct contact with any of them personally, but I have family members and close friends who have suffered from all of them. I grew up with both my parents. My mom was a nurse and my dad was an electrician. My father was also a pastor, who followed my grandmother’s footsteps. After talking to my father, mother, and only grandparent, there was a lot of information that was gained and there were sources to validate my family’s story. Drug and Substance Abuse
According to Sharma & Atri (2006), even though Whites are more likely to use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, however Blacks are often more affected by its use. My grandmother and grandfather were both alcoholics. My mother was addicted to pain medication which led her to attempting suicide and then enrolling in a drug rehabilitation center. My aunt died of a lethal mix of prescription medication. My mother’s brother was also an alcoholic who died from walking while drunk. Even though it was not his fault, he died an alcoholic. Sadly, I don’t remember any good things about him. I have another aunt and uncle who at one point were either addicted to crack cocaine, alcohol, or pain medication. So it’s obvious the misuse of drugs and alcohol have had some detrimental effects on my family as a whole. My father’s family has some similar occurrences. My grandfather was an alcoholic who died at a young age. My dad’s two brothers were both addicted to alcohol. His oldest brother was addicted to a number of substances that varied at different times in his life.
The Comparison of the TV family to the everyday real life family can take many avenues to explore, but I'll try to keep it as basic as possible. First I'll break down the animated TV family "The Simpsons", and then I'll break down a real life middle class family that I know all to well. I. The Simpsons; Father, Mother and three children. The various daily problems they encounter in their middle ...
He eventually died from AIDS. A lot of this vital, heart-trenching information wasn’t gained until I was out of college and a number of these facts, I am just grasping by doing this paper. As you can see, genetically there has to be something linked to both sides of my family to substance abuse. As sad as all this maybe, it is true. Another area that has affected my family is poverty. According to US Census 2000 (Borum, 2007), African Americans have experienced large numbers of poverty and unemployment rates, while the U.S. continues to employ Euro-White Americans. After talking to both my parents, being poor was considered “normal” for African Americans while they were growing up. My grandmother told me stories of working in fields making $25 per day. I can relate to this story in an exact way. My mom would send us to my grandmother for the summer. While we there, we were responsible for waking at the break of dawn to go pick peas. No matter the temperature, we were given paint buckets with metal handles by the white owners, and depending on how well you picked, you were either given 1-4 rows (I was always given one row).
We earned ten cents per pound of peas picked. After working, we would go and sit on the porch of the owners and wait for our name to be called. Because I was not particularly great, I usually only made about $10 dollars. My parents both attended school, but there still were extreme cases of racism according to them. Bortum (2006) says “African Americans struggles have been primarily one of self-determination and freedom from racial oppression, which includes political, historical, and cultural aspects that impact the quality of Black life” (p. 6).
Insights about the African and African American according to Achebe and Douglass Throughout the years, the image of the African American culture has been portrayed in in a negative light. Many people look to African, and African American literature to gain knowledge about the African American culture. The true culture and image often goes unseen, or is tarnished because writers who have no true ...
Based upon what my grandmother has said, there weren’t many opportunities in the 1940s for African American men. African American women were also housewives that also worked in the fields when needed. When I looked at the U.S Census of 1930, my great-great grandfather who was born in 1880, was unemployed. He was also renting a home, which is also is reflective of current African Americans home owners. When compared to almost three quarters of whites owning their homes, only 48% of African Americans are home owners (Byrd, 2003).
Another cultural distinction that African American homes are associated with is the absence of fathers. This wasn’t an area that my family struggled with. The majority of the fathers in my family stayed married regardless of infidelity, domestic and verbal abuse, and severe substance abuse. According to Harris (2002), African American males who did not have a father in the home received lower test scores, often repeated a grade, and had more school suspensions than homes where the father was present. I grew up with both my parents as did the majority of my high school friends. It wasn’t until after college that I learned my family wasn’t the typical African American home. After I began teaching, I learned that most of the African American students who were considered poor based on if they received free or reduced lunch came from father-less homes. When given interest inventory surveys that questioned family background, over 85% of the students had not seen their father in over a year or longer. These children who were primarily raised by their mothers or grandmothers had three times more referrals than homes where the father was present.
Even homes where the fathers were considered involved, these children still struggled with reading, behavioral problems, and motivation to do good work. Often times, the mother was either working full-time and there was little to no parental involvement in regards to academics. “Poor parental supervison and monitoring, harsh and/or inconsistent disciplinary practices, infrequent parent-adolescent communication, and poor parent-adolescent relations have been shown to be associated with higher levels of delinquency and aggression among adolescens” (Pascall, Ringwalt, & Flewelling, 2003, p. 15).
Comparing and Contrasting the African American and the Hispanic American Cultures The majority of the Hispanic American culture came to America looking for a better life and a better chance at making a living for their families. So the Hispanic came to America looking for hard work and more money. From the culture being so different and poor this made them the lower class. This also made it harder ...
The African American girls did not appear to be more affected by the absence of their fathers as the boys in the area of academics, however in both males and females, there was a considerable amount of aggression towards their peer as well as teachers. Conclusion
Many of the cultural dynamics that have affected my family is also considered a norm across the African American culture. There are still much needed support for the African American culture. Because of over 300 years of slavery that started amongst ourselves, it still continues to have detrimental effects on Black families. Even though my family has struggled and continue to struggle with poverty, violence, and substance abuse, we still enjoy each other’s company and laughter. It is understood that when together, we will have tons of laughs, stories told, and some very good cooking. It is believed that when our families become more aware of the cultural differences that separate us from other races, rather good and bad, we will make strides to make our African American families better.
Byrd, V. (2003).
Buying a home. Essence. New York, 34, (3), 28. Carr, K. (2012).
African history. History for Kids. Retrieved from http://www.historyforkids .org/learn/africa/history/history.htm Harris, S. (2002).
Father absence in the African American community: towards a new paradigm. Race, Gender, & Class. New Orleans, 9 (4), 111. Sharma, M. & Atri, A. (2006).
Substance abuse in African Americans: in search of a culturally competent research agenda. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 50 (3), 3-5. Paschall, M.J., Ringwalt, C.L., & Flewelling, R.L. (2003).
Effects of parenting, father absence, and affliation with delinquent peers on delinquent behavior among African American male adolescents. Roslyn Heights, 38 (149), 15.