The African American culture has long since been the fascination of many, white and black in equal measure. Its roots can be traced back to the slavery era when Africans were forcefully taken from their homes as slaves…
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Thus, the customs and norms of behavior depicted by modern African American folk have been handed down from generation to generation, with a number of variations. However, some aspects of their culture and behavior have arisen as a reaction to real or perceived racial segregation and prejudice imposed on them by the white folk. The dynamism in the black culture is depicted in their family life, relationships and marriages, education, economic standing, language and life events. This essay, therefore, attempts to describe this culture with illustrations from three selected sitcoms, which include Tyler Perry’s For Better or For Worse, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Everybody Hates Chris. Firstly, the African American people value the family unit. Their family structure encompasses both the nuclear and extended family members. The grandparents, aunts, and uncles assist in the upbringing of children and play a key role in imparting in them their customs and life lessons. There is mutual aid social class cooperation. This is illustrated in Fresh Prince of Bel-air where Will’s aunt and uncle accept the responsibility of raising him in their household as part of their family when her mother is unable (Borowitz & Stevenson, 1990). They treat him as one of their children, with the same rules and values that they apply to their son and two daughters. The nuclear family unit may also consist of children born out of wedlock. In addition, in most cases, problems arise when the other children’s birth parents have contrasted views on how the kids should be raised. This is clearly shown in For Better or For Worse, when Angela’s stepdaughter, Dominique, calls her a whore in front to her son M.J. Angela gets mad and confronts her husband to deal with his daughter’s disrespect, claiming that his ex-wife Keisha put her up to it. Such fights sometimes cause disastrous consequences as seen when Angela and Keisha engage in fistfights and hair-pulling antics. Secondly, the African American marriages and relationships are usually characterized by adultery and drama. This trait is believed to have originated from the polygamous way of life of their ancestry in Africa. The men have roving eyes and believe that they can cheat as long as their wives cannot catch them. This belief has triggered outrageous behaviors in their women, who have become deeply insecure and resort to dubious means to prevent their men from straying including tapping their phone calls, reading their text messages and contacts, and even trailing their men to work. In For Better or For Worse, Angela constantly checks Marcus’s phone and masters all the contacts (Tyler Perry, 2011). She even calculates the mileage and time it takes for Marcus to drive to and from work each day. In addition, African American women are loud, vindictive and aggressive who frequently engage in catfights and screaming matches as shown when Angela stacks Marcus’s clothes and shoes in his car, drives it to his workplace, and sets it ablaze. However, not all women are aggressive. A section are nurturing, soft-spoken and civil in their actions as shown by Will’s aunt, who rarely raised her voice and resorted to family talks to straighten out issues. The African American women can be domineering in some marriages and relationships, leading to self-depreciation of the father and his respect, bordering on fear of the mother. This is illustrated in Everybody Hates Chris, where Rochelle (mother) is ill-tempered, loud and easily paranoid. Julius (father) constantly lives in her shadow and fears crossing her. Most often, his opinions depend on what his wife says, even in disciplining his kids. Thirdly, most of the African
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America’s popular culture is the leading export and this is changing with time due to the political changes, technology development and the cultural changes norms. This defines and creates the identity to the Americans and impacts the world all over and in all aspects.
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