African-American Culture: Personal Experience

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When you think of the food we you eat, your place of worship, your family cohesiveness, family, and the music you love you are pondering to some degree of your culture. Culture can be viewed as traditions, customs, arts and communal relations of a specific social group. Cultural competence sets a foundation for developing a successful diverse environment. Being socially capable means being familiar with beliefs, including the mindfulness of that culture’s world interpretation. When someone is ethnically skilled they are able to successfully connect and relate with individuals across cultures, and hold an optimistic attitude towards culture variations.

Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism play key role in this concept term coined by William Graham Sumner (McCoy, R. 2011. Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism is the tendency to look at the world primarily from the perspective of your own ethnic culture and the belief that that is in fact the “right” way to look at the world (McCoy, R. 2011). This contributes to the many stereotypes & bias that we hold in the world.

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Failure to be exposed to other cultures continues to create further division within humanity. Ethnocentric views keep us from trying new things from other cultures that we are unfamiliar with. Social scientists strive to treat cultural differences as neither inferior nor superior (Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2013). That way, they can understand their research topics within the appropriate cultural context and examine their own biases and assumptions at the same time. Clearly, this practice relates to problems of both racism and prejudice Shiraev, E. B., & Levy, D. A. (2013).

Cultural relativism is a principle that was established as axiomatic in anthropological research by Franz Boas in the first few decades of the twentieth century, and later popularized by his students. Boas first articulated the idea in 1887: “…civilization is not something absolute, but… is relative, and… our ideas and conceptions are true only so far as our civilization goes. (Boas, F 1887)

When I think about culture and how I fit in culturally, I identify with the African American culture. This was primarily influenced by my upbringing. Being raised in a predominately African American family, has taught me about culture values. This stems from my family, environment & my educational exposure. I have always identified with the African American culture & I believe in the resilience of my culture.

There are a host of facets to African-American culture. In this culture religion, food, music & social gathering has played an intricate role in cohesiveness within this culture. Religion extends as far as slavery, Christianity was the foundation of African American. This was a huge part of my upbringing and it plays a vital role of who I am today.

There are certain kinds of foods that I was raised on and in the African Culture, soul food is a well- known tradition. Greens, baked macaroni and cheese, fried pork chops, catfish, and chicken are a few of those items. Food was used to bring families together during good times, celebration as well as tragedies. Traditionally food was prepared by the Matriarch of the family, however that has changed over the course of decades.

Music was also a tradition that carried for years for the African American culture, this exist back in slavery days as well-known as hymns. There are a variety types of melodies that I enjoyed during my upbringing, and different display rules that were required within my family. I was also raised to like several types of music fluctuating from rhythm and blues, gospel, and jazz to hip hop and rap music. Some of these variations of music go back to the slavery time. Goffman (2010) states, “Separated from their languages and history, African Americans somehow managed to preserve something of their culture through the only medium available to them: music, originally limited to voice and rhythm (with an assist from the banjo, derived from African instruments), and closely associated with dance” (para.3).

The love of music has transformed and spread throughout the African-American culture. There’s nothing quite like a melody to capture what was going on socially at that time. No matter what the occasion music is always at the center of all events across all cultures. Rather it be a funeral, graduation, wedding, or night on the town. Music in my opinion helps untie various cultures. When we think about how many cultures embellish in the music of other cultures it’s quite interesting to think that there is so much separation in this world. Understanding why we like music and what attracts us to it is therefore an opening on the spirit of human nature. Growing up, I was always told to not be linked with the wrong crowd, or to be in the wrong place in the wrong time because I was Black.

Traditionally, it has been spread that it is problematic to trust the police and to always be suspicious of racial I think a lot of the distrust stemmed from past experiences that my grandmother went through personally and witnessed growing up, and as a result she passed that down to her children and grandchildren. On a larger scope, a lot of people that I have met within my culture have also been stated that they have been raised to distrust policemen and people in positions of power.

The perspective that African Americans are all lazy and uneducated individuals is an ethnocentrism belief. It is also a façade that we only listen to rap music and play video games. We are a powerful civilization who has made great accomplishments to society. An African American invented the streetlight, elevators, air conditioners, and performed the first successful open-heart surgery.

Cultural relativism steps into play because of what’s seen on the surface based on the media. The media has a way of highlighting more negative behavior as opposed to all the great successes within the African American communities. I can remember back in 1998 I was employed at a retail store at O’Hare airport in Chicago. I went to use the restroom and someone dropped their wallet with over a thousand dollars in it and all their identification and credit cards. I turned the wallet in to security who happened to be a Caucasian male who gave an uncomfortable made the comment is everything in here still. I politely began to walk away. Ironically the individual who lost the wallet walked up to the same guard as I was leaving to report his wallet lost. He was a Caucasian male as well. He yelled to get my attention and thanked me for my honesty. Though I was appreciative of his gesture I could still only think about the negative connotation made prior.

Culture is what shapes societies. It shows what individuals are thinking, feeling and how they are acting. I can see how family reunions, music, religion, and food were used to help strengthen the African-American culture, and make sure we remained united and the culture survived even through severe adversity. I believe that the strong is more likely to survive than the weak. This has taught us how to adjust to extenuating circumstances and to be resilience. Many cultures can cohabitate in one environment and respect one another and get along fine. however, there will always be a dominant culture that the leaders of the group all want to conform to at least publicly as to facilitate unity and uniformity.

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African-American Culture: Personal Experience. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from
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