Black History Culture : What "Is" Our CULTURE?

Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Kannte, Jul 4, 2004.

  1. Kannte

    Kannte Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    What is the "culture" that shapes and fashions the hearts, minds, Souls, and spirits of black/African Americans?

    Is our culture African?

    Is our culture American?

    Or is our culture black/African American?

    Consider the Powerful Concept of Culture from Dr. Marimba Ani:

    "In all cultures there is the "taken-for-granted," assumed, and habitual aspect that though generally less visible than others, and rarely explicit - exerts the most profound effect on its members. It is precisely because these "hidden controls" functions on such a deep level, that they become habitual responses that are experienced "as though they were innate."

    Culture "teaches" its "logic" and "world-view" to the ordinary participants, who assimilate it, assume it, and push it BENEATH the SURFACE, from where it influences their COLLECTIVE BEHAVIOR and response.

    Culture, as a "norm"-a-tive structure, concerns standards of desirability - values.

    "Norms" are rules of conduct, that, specify what should and should not be done. The "norm"-a-tive aspects of culture, combine to form a "set of guidelines" by which people regulate their own behavior and that of their fellows.

    "Values" and "norms" can only be supported or positively "sanctioned" within a culture in such a way that behavior that conforms to them is "rewarded" - meets with "success" and "approval." While behavior that contradicts them is "punished" - results in "failure" and is "put-down" by one's fellows, or is simply not rewarded in any way, is not recognized as "valued" behavior.

    "World-view" is that aspect of culture that, functions to replace presented chaos with perceived order, by supplying the members of a culture with definitions of reality, with which to make sense of their surroundings and experiences. It is the meaningful organization of experience, the "assumed structure of reality." This "deep structure" of culture, has a most powerful influence on the shape of the culture and the thought-patterns of its members.

    Then "special" members of the culture, regarded as "intellectuals, scholars, theorist," retrieve the assumptions of this world-view and re-present them as tenets of a universal system of thought, one that presents standards of logic, rationality, and truth to the world.

    These "intellectuals and scholars" are considered the "theorist" of the culture, when actually, their ideas, simply reflect the assumed reality of the mainstream culture. But the manner of their "presentation" is authoritative."

    From, "YURUGU: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior." Out of 636 pages that's a brief excerpt.
     
  2. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thank you Kannte,

    I'm glad you brought this up. I will give you my understanding shortly. I think our culture is a slave culture with Afrikan retentions and European-influence. I will explain my conclusion, as I said later.

    Blackbird
     
  3. Keita Kenyatta

    Keita Kenyatta going above and beyond PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Marimba is both right and wrong at the same time...which is what we call a paradox. First we have to consider that we largely exist in an African world that's been painted white in terms of its knowledge base and achievements. Secondly, the purpose of the scholars is indeed the retrieval of information and history, not only for our reclaimation, but for the purpose of our being able to take the best of the past, the best of the present and move it forward to build a better future. Therefore culture is constantly changing and remolding itself.

    We could better ask the question of "what is truely European ?" Obviously his language and linear thought process and his history of death and destruction, as well as his definition of self by names and the such. These are easy things to let go of as we retrieve the essence of who and how we were and are to be from our past. We furthermore do not possess a linear thought process nor have a history of death and destruction.

    Remember, we have been a certain way for millions of years before this short imposition of European destruction upon us, so there are genetic, spiritual and cultural factors about our people that have been ingrained by millions of years and will not so easily dissappear due to a few hundred years of European imposition upon us. So in as much as she gave a fairly decent analysis...it suffers from myopia in its conclusive thought process.
     
  4. Kannte

    Kannte Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    In Actual, Manifest Fact

    In actual, manifest fact WHAT "cultural" VALUES and NORMS does the black/African-American practice?

    Does the black/African-American in actual, manifest fact live and practice the "cultural" VALUES and NORMS of AMERICANISM?

    Or, do we live and practice in actual, manifest fact the genetic/DNA "cultural" VALUES and NORMS of AFRICANS?

    Or, do we live, practice and pass on to our children in actual, manifest fact a COMBINATION of the genetic/DNA "cultural" VALUES and NORMS of AFRICANS and the "cultural" VALUES and NORMS of AMERICANISM; such that we define ourselves as black/African-American?
     
  5. Isaiah

    Isaiah Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Kannte, thank you for bringing this topic to the board, because it actually deserves a forum unto itself!

    Without seeming to campaign for such a forum, or to contradict what Dr. Ani has said, my belief is that Culture more than any single factor, including genetics, is what makes who us we are... In effect, it is our psychic, social, spiritual essence, and as brother Keita brilliantly dissected it, a million years cannot be erased by a half a millenium of lies and distortions(things African being refryed as European) Thank you for that, brother Keita!!!(smile!)

    As I mentioned in a previous post, I was banned from a discussion board for asserting that African Americans have a cultural copyright to protect as regards our music and performance styles, as they are derived from the larger African/African American culture. For example, how could there be a Blues without our unique folk lexicon and cultural experience, and how could dancing and performance styles such as, James Brown, Michael Jackson, and MC Hammer come from a culture which doesn't even value dancing, much less dance from the hips down???

    Dr. Keita, I am looking for one of our scholars to do a comprehensive breakdown of what particular African Cultures have actually influenced African Americans... Is that too much to ask from your intellectual vantage point??? Like in Cuba, it is said that Yoruba-Kongo culture, among many, strongly influences the African Cuban culture... In Haiti, it is said that Dahomey is the Culture with the strongest influence there, and in Brazil, Angola, and the central AFrican culture... Dr. Joseph Holloway says it is probably Kongo-Central, Angola-South, that has influenced African Americans most - though most of us brought here came from West AFrica... I know that the Gullah went back to Sierra Leone, and found that the indigo-making and the Basketry are identical, as well as the english speech patterns... Dr. Robert Farris Thompson has also confirmed Dr. Holloway about the strong Congolese influence on African Americans, particularly in the deep south... I get confused however, when I am told that there were Africans from the Rice coast(Sierra Leone) brought here to cultivate rice, train horses, and fish, as they were extremely good at this...

    In any event, I wish that there were a forum entirely dedicated to CULTURE at Destee's, because we stand to learn a great deal about the true essence of African people by looking THERE... Why does Homer Jones spike a football, or Connie Hawkins and Julius Erving soar elegantly, as if dancing on air, to throw down a dunk??? Why does Ali and Sugar Ray dance, and talk trash to their opponent to get that psychological edge??? Why would a sista shoot a brotha down if his rap aint strong, and why is style as important as substance among African people no matter where we are on the planet(bright lively colors!!!) The answers are connected to culture, and I think that would be quite fascinating for us, coming to KNOW and understand what makes African people tick... It seems to me, the European knows more about that than we do, and that's a doggoned shame...

    Peace!
    Isaiah
     
  6. Kannte

    Kannte Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Is "Culture" A Product of Our Inborn Nature?

    Is "culture" a product our genetic/DNA natures?

    Is the "cultural" product of Caucasians/Europeans INHERENTLY different, from Orientals or Africans and vis-versa because of genetic/DNA?

    Does each race, African, Oriental, Caucasian produce a different "CULTURE" that is inherently inborn, a product of the nature of each race?

    Is there a UNIVERSAL CULTURE that includes all human beings and races?
     
  7. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Kannte,

    It is complex as culture results from a number of combinations, genetics being one. However, I think we overlook the fact of experience. Culture exists to address the needs of a people. Every group has needs unique unto themselves.

    Blackbird
     
  8. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother Isaiah,

    When discerning the regions of African influence, we must look at, I believe, state preference. South Carolina has been documented as importing a greater percentages of African from the Congo/Angola than from anywhere else. Gullah people do, as far information and cultural retention tells us, have a greater influx of Rice Coast (Sierre Leone) people.

    Blackbird
     
  9. Blackbird

    Blackbird Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Brother Keita,

    Undoubtably, culture is not static, its constantly evolving to suit the needs of its participants, but I think we must be aware that each culture ultimately has its point of reference, its organizing thought and ideological core. I think this is what Mama Marimba was alluding to - what are the pecularities within European cultural behavior that can be isolated as constituting a cultural statement. Throughout history, as I know you are aware, cultures have influenced and have been influenced by other cultures, however, most retain elements that can lead back to a point of origin.

    Also, I have to contend with your conclusion that Black people do not think in linear terms. Of course not originally, but I think of late many of us are increasing becoming linear. It has been my experience when clarifying the position inherent within most ATRs, that the circularity of the philosophy is hard to grasp by those innoculated with Western thought. As we readily accept and legitimized Western education as the preferred mode of teaching, thinking and learning, we become submerged in the method of linear reasoning. I remember one of the first lessons from my first godfather in the ATRs was that I need to stop intellectualizing everything. I was in college at the time and he said, "I know it might be hard since you are in school, but everything doesn't need to be intellectualized." He made this statement in regards to the symbolic meanings contained in my dreams. I wanted everything to make sense from a linear literal point of view. Indeed, by becoming involved in the ATRs I had to drop many things and it was/still is difficult. Alot of the concepts involved went against my logic and questioned my rationale of things. I was introduced to a new way of processing information. (I grew up partially a small-community country Southern boy with a grandmother that was 2 generations out of slavery and that practiced rootwork)

    Indeed, many of the things concerning culture are genetic, however, without the active transmission of culture, values included, to future generations, the essential meanings can eventually become lost. The habits and rituals then become empty shells of their former selves and may include interpretations and explanations originating from different cultures. I noticed this phenomena with my wife, who's from Ghana. She explained a ceremony to me, that although originally traditional was conveyed in explicitly Christian terms and philosophy. Another "ritual", she admitted she didn't know the meaning for, except "that is just what Africans did." I think this is why many cultures actively seek to ensure their traditions will be retained by their prosperity via the guidance of elders and educational institutions.

    P.S. As far as I can tell, the "jumping the broom" ritual could have its origins, at least partly, with the orisha Oya. Oya, the orisha of change and transformation, is represented by a broom. Marriage represents indeed a change and transformation in life.

    Young Black men would pour out "brew", liquor, for their dead homies which many said was taken from Cooley High. However, as many know, libations were poured to the ancestors. The ritual and concept, in part, were kept, as "dead homies" replaced ancestors and "egun". Essentially Afrikan, but I seriously doubt these individuals would pour libations to their ancestors. How I know because I've done it and never ever thought about doing for my ancestors. My ancestors were DEAD. My homies were dead, but as solace for a bereaved soul, I did it because I didn't want to bear the reality of their death.

    I guess certain things, folkways, can be genetically inspired, but not always necessarily culturally informed.

    My two cents, no scholar or what-not,
    Blackbird
     
  10. dadachango69

    dadachango69 Well-Known Member MEMBER

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    Thanks for the lesson here. I have thought this question often times through about being Puerto Rican. There are certain things that I think are biologically-instilled. There are other things that are learned. When I was young, I always felt that because I was born here, I would never be Puerto Rican enough. I sought out all the things I thought were part of my culture. I tried to dance Salsa, but ended up doing something closer to hip-hop. I tried speaking Spanish, but ended up in English. I thought I had to go to every Puerto Rican parade to be really considered down with my Puerto Rican people. Even though I loved my mom's cooking, I enjoyed Thai, Chinese, Soul, Italian, etc. My motivation to fortify my identity was simply because I hated being called a "Sorta Rican". The realization then hit me that all the things I am IS my culture. Amalgamated as it is, it is still a part of me.

    As a group of people brought here by a conquering Nation, I understand what it means and how important it is to define yourself amidst all the other groups- particularly when your own Nation is conquered. Sort of like when they say the Tainos all died out. They didn't. Their culture was absorbed. I was always taught in Puerto Rican Studies classes to take the numbers recorded by Spanish & American census-takers with a grain of salt for it was a fiasco of a process that sought to "whiten-and-tighten" the population and make us appear less-African for fear of a repeat rebellion like in Santo Domingo (and in the case of the U.S.- for eventual annexation into the Union as a "White state"). The Tainos and the Africans were absorbed by the conquering Nation (as in the case of the U.S. government's invasion of our land). Spanish was then adopted as a way of life, mode and dress... most of it, if not all, was forced upon us by the conqueror Nation. After 1898, the US imported many things through capitalist ventures and advertising (through radio in the 1920's). It didn't mean that there weren't still elements that remained from those two cultures. It just means that they were re-packaged into a newer identity which reflected our current situation. Puerto Ricans finally found this identity by 1868 when they had an insurrection against Spain ("Grito de Lares") which paralleled her sister island of Cuba ("Grito de Yara"). It was time to get rid of Spain from the picture and form ourselves as a people. Given the small-ness of the island, too many mixed marriages (whether forced or with consent) made it hard to pick apart these color-lines. We still celebrate all apects of it... sometimes we celebrate individual events as distinctly African or distinctly Native, but all of it is Puerto Rican.

    Later on in life, I started to realize that solidarity is unity and that, while I am there if my people call, I am still there for myself. Personal identity is where you begin to define... loyalty comes from your affiliation with people who share common denominators- whether they be biological or community-wyse. I am first ME and then I am there for others.

    All my peeps get props at my ancestral shrine.

    BTW- I think new forms of music such as Reggaeton (which blends Reggae with traditional Bomba rhythms) are putting us back in our Caribbean context. Many Puerto Ricans are growing tired of the political chaos that we have been put in for the sake of a Nation that never accepts us and are finally waking up (I think...lol) to the fact that we might JUST lose ourselves as a Nation. We would never think of attacking Cuba as our histories are so closely intertwined throughtout the last 5 centuries. The more we define ourselves, the closer we get to actual freedom. We won't fight our own brothers and sisters... Cubans or African-Americans. It isn't our cultural M.O. to do so.
     
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