Cultural Identity - African American - Essay Example

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Nearly around 1619, “a Dutch ship carrying African slaves docked at Point Comfort,which served as Jamestown's checkpoint for ships wanting to trade with the colonists”.Later on,millions of West Africans were transported into the North America and the Caribbean Islands during the trans-Atlantic slave trade,who,then,spread into the Western hemisphere, which included Europe and America…
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[Your full May 4, I. Cultural Identity - African American a. Nearly around 1619, “a Dutch shipcarrying African slaves docked at Point Comfort, which served as Jamestown's checkpoint for ships wanting to trade with the colonists” (Vox, para.1). Later on, millions of West Africans were transported into the North America and the Caribbean Islands during the trans-Atlantic slave trade, who, then, spread into the Western hemisphere, which included Europe and America. The traders brought these slaves from West Africa because it was inexpensive as compared to bringing them from East Africa, and the intention was to put them into hard labor on cheap costs. The African continent suffered from slavery trade more than any other continent. Slaves were shipped, in the most horrible circumstances, to the western hemisphere. Where so much is stated in literature about the Holocaust and the brutality of the Nazis in Germany, there is very little related to the sufferings of the African slaves, who bore the most horrible conditions while they were being traded to Europe and America. So, we see that the ancestors of those slaves lived in the West Africa, or we can say that the ancestors of today’s African-Americans belonged to the West African culture. The distinguishing characteristic of those slaves was that they were strong enough to be subjected to hard labor. Even females were brawny enough to participate in agricultural activities. b. Slavery trade resulted in snatching from Africans their self-worth, identification, approval, and recognition, and this became a global phenomenon (Berkin et al.). The Americanization of West Africans made them lose their traditional customs and practices for the time being, and they lost their identities in the new world. However, the concept of African Diaspora resulted when the West Africans regained their traditional customs, and reformed their central values and beliefs. For example, they share strong kinship bonds, sturdy work and religious orientation, proper family roles, attachment to church, and share a strong sense of pride. c. Hofstede’s dimensions of culture and Hall’s time orientations define cultural pattern of African-American identity (Intercultural Organizational Development). Power Distance Index (PDI) is high because African-Americans face discrimination in work opportunities being less powerful members of the society. There is high individualism because African-Americans have to look after themselves. Hall’s definition of polychronic culture also relates to them as they prefer relationships over material things. II. African-American Culture’s Communication Style The African-American cultural identity comprises unique communication characteristics. They have a “verbal, visible assertive mode of communication”, according to Mavrelis (para.1). Africa-Americans are able to confront another person in a straight forward manner when a hot topic of debate is at hand. They show a lot of emotional expressions and gestures, and the range of pitch between words and the volume of speech is high, as compared to Hispanics, Asian-Americans, or Latinos. They ask direct questions; have long eye contact; touch while communicating; are aware of white privilege; and, have good speed of response (“Normative Communication Styles & Values”). Mpofu (201) writes that, “Styles of communication among most African Americans are often high-key, animated, heated, interpersonal, and confrontational.” III. Factors that shape African American Culture’s Identity and Communication Style a. Major factors that have shaped African-American identity include socio-cultural influences of white oppression since slavery trade, and the racial discrimination resulting from it. As stated earlier, the slavery trade resulted in snatching away the sense of identity from the African-Americans, but with the rise of African Diaspora, they have been able to regain some of their identification through a revival of religious and cultural practices. But still, white oppression remains to be a main social factor that shapes their sense of identification even today. Thompson (19) identified that, “Sex, education, and the age at which racism was experienced were important factors in determining cultural identification.” Other factors include political activism, gender, income and education. As for communication style, race and ethnic background are the main factors that affect communication. b. From this analysis, I have learned that the origin of African-Americans lies in the history of slave trade, when millions of slaves were traded from West Africa into the West. The slaves were subjected to hard labor. They lost their identities, but their Americanization during African Diaspora has given them back their cultural identification, yet they have to suffer from racial discrimination. Their communication style is brisk. They are confident in arguing, while being aware of the white oppression they have to suffer from. They share good relationships among families, and are devoted at workplaces. They enjoy strong family ties and have proper family roles. Works Cited Berkin, Carol, Miller, Christopher, Cherny, Robert, and James Gormly. Making America: A History of the United States. USA: Cengage Learning, 2011. Intercultural Organizational Development. Geert Hofstede's Dimensions of Culture and Edward T. Hall's Time Orientations. Tamas Consultants Inc., n.d. Web. 4 May 2012. . Mavrelis, Kochman. African American Communication Styles. Kochman Mavrelis Associates Inc., 2009. Web. 4 May 2012. . Mpofu, Elias. Counseling People of African Ancestry. Cambridge University Press, 2011. “Normative Communication Styles & Values.” For Cross-Cultural Collaboration. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 May 2012. . Thompson, Vetta Sanders. “Factors Affecting the Level of African American Identification.” Journal of Black Psychology 17.1(1990): 19-35. DOI: 10.1177/00957984900171003 Vox, Lisa. “The Start of Slavery in North America.” African-American History., 2012. Web. 4 May 2012. <>. Read More
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