African American Culture

954 Words4 Pages
African American Culture Culture is not a fixed phenomenon, nor is it the same in all places or to all people. It is relative to time, place, and particular people. Learning about other people can help us to understand ourselves and to be better world citizens. One of the most common ways of studying culture is to focus on the differences within and among cultures. Although their specifics may vary form one culture to another, sociologists refer to those elements or characteristics that can be found in every know society as cultural universals. For example, in all societies, funeral rites include expression of grief, disposing of the dead, and rituals that define the relations of the dead with the living. And on the most significant cultural universals is the incest taboo, a cultural norm prohibiting marriage or sexual relations between certain kin. Whether the underlying basis of human behavior is biological or purely learned, how we channel that behavior is an important aspect of culture. From the time we are born, we are socialized to believe that our way of life is one that is good, civilized, and above reproach. Such ideals usually sets the tone for what sociologist would refer to as ethnocentrism, the attitude that one’s own culture is superior to those of others. Though it exists from one degree or another in every society, it may also serve as the glue that holds a society together. In the event that ethnocentrism is taken out of context or has reached an offensive tone, it may be suppressed with cultural relativism, the belief that a culture must be understood on its own terms. From the African American perspective, culture encompasses all we know, all we feel, and all we have absorbed from our elder... ... middle of paper ... ...unting the lives of people who struggled for African and African American freedom. People who celebrate Kwanzaa hope to strengthen the black community by adhering to the seven guiding principles, designated by the terms from the Swahili language: umoja (unity), kujichagulia (self-determination), umija (collective work and responsibility), ujamaa (cooperative economics), nia (purpose), kuumba (creativity), and imani (faith). Although many African Americans share some culture similarities with those of the dominant culture, there are some aspects of their culture from the dominant ancestry of sub-Saharan West Africa in which they have retained. Culture is not a fixed phenomenon, nor is it the same in all places or to all people. It is relative to time, place, and particular people and African American culture plays a significant role in the United States today.

More about African American Culture

Open Document