I am an African American living in America, and my culture combines our rich past with the dynamic present. Our ancestors endured hardships under slavery in the past, yet their perseverance and cohesion set the road for who we are now. People striving for equality and rights for everyone, regardless of skin colour, made the Civil Rights Movement a significant event (Ogbar, 2019). We are still fighting for equality and against racism in the present. Like jazz and hip-hop, our music expresses our emotions and stories. You may have heard of fantastic people like Martin Luther King Jr., who led the battle for equal rights, or famous people who motivated us, like Beyoncé and LeBron James.
Many historical factors that have profoundly influenced our cultural identity have profoundly affected African Americans’ identities in America. One such factor is the legacy of slavery, which was a time marked by unfathomable pain, forced labour, and the denial of fundamental human rights. Our collective identity was built on the tenacity of our forefathers throughout this time, who persevered by upholding traditional customs and establishing close-knit communities despite the violence (Simard, 2020). By fostering a legacy of resiliency, familial ties, and cultural preservation in the face of suffering, slavery greatly influenced African-American culture. It impacts our traditions, music, and the ongoing fight for fairness.
Another historical factor is the 20th-century Civil Rights Movement, which significantly impacted our culture. African Americans bravely battled racism, discrimination, and segregation with the help of allies. Significant legal reforms were made during this time, but there was also a resurgence of communal pride and cohesion (Simard,2020). African American voices were given a platform, and society’s perspectives were changed thanks to the leaders and regular people who demonstrated, protested, and fought for change. This era, therefore, brought about remarkable legal changes and sparked a renewed sense of pride and unity within our community.
Some contemporary factors still influence our cultural identity. One such factor is the ongoing fight against social inequality and systematic racism. Racial gaps continue despite advancements in criminal justice, jobs, and education. As we battle for equality and justice for all, this continual struggle shapes who we are. Our culture has also been significantly shaped by the arts, which is another contemporary factor (Darity & Mullen,2022). African Americans have immensely contributed to literary works, music, and the arts. Jazz music, the blues genre, the hip-hop genre and R&B music are just a few examples of artistic genres that effectively address contemporary social issues and honour our cultural history. Luminaries like Oprah Winfrey, Kendrick Lamar, and Ava DuVernay, among others, serve as role models for us and inspire us.
Another contemporary factor is investigating African heritage and identity. Many African Americans connect with their heritage, embracing traditions and participating in traditional customs that show off our ancestors’ tenacity (Hamilton, 2019). Our identity is enriched and given depth by our ties to our African history, which recognizes the resilience handed down over the years.
In conclusion, the Civil Rights Movement and the history of slavery, which fostered perseverance and togetherness, are the sources of African-American cultural identity. Our cultural fabric is still shaped by contemporary elements like the ongoing battle against racism, artistic contribution, and a relationship with African history (Hamilton, 2019). Our identity is a vibrant fusion of our history, resiliency, innovation, and dedication to establishing a more just and equal future.
Simard, J. (2020). Citing slavery. Stan. L. Rev., 72, 79.
Ogbar, J. O. (2019). Black Power: Radical politics and African American identity.
Darity Jr, W. A., & Mullen, A. K. (2022). From here to equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the twenty-first century. UNC Press Books.
Hamilton, T. G. (2019). Immigration and the remaking of Black America. Russell Sage Foundation.