Lost Identity

Charnice - Norfolk, Virginia
Entered on December 3, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

One time I went an event at Old Dominion University called Cultural Explosion. It was a contest between numerous student organizations on campus. There were great acts from different cultural clubs ranging from Indian to Pilipino to Caribbean. And it left me wishing that I had some cultural connection or tradition to be proud of and show off.

I believe that African Americans are losing their cultural identity. From the moment Africans were brought off the ships onto the shores of America, European descended Americans have been trying to “Americanize” or strip us of our traditions and mores and force their own upon us, just as they once did with the Native Americans.

It’s now the norm for African American girls to relax their hair and wear weaves and extensions, chemically and physically damaging their natural hair just to fit in with White counterparts. Some claim that Hip-Hop is the only cultural thing that African Americans can call their own. But if you go up the hierarchy of most of the chains of commandment, the White executives are the ones calling the shots and their new audience is the White suburban teens riding in their expensive, parental paid cars blasting “gangsta” music. And speaking of the music industry, not many White people know that Rock ‘n Roll was pioneered by the likes of Little Richard and James Brown then Elvis Presley.

There’s not much to unify African Americans culturally anymore. One holiday that we used to celebrate but is now fading in popularity is Kwanzaa. Also African American food is being commercialized as “soul food”, as has Mexican and Chinese. So what can African Americans stand up and express as our culture? We were stripped our characters and given those of European descent, through the years we’ve fought to keep our identity, but it seems now that we’ve given up.

We could start to come together as a people and stop fighting and killing each other for one. Second, instead of just disrespecting our elders and disposing them to the closest nursing home just to get rid of them, we should keep them around to teach the next generation, so that the ignorance stops today. We should also strive to keep our families together, starting with the African American man taking care of his children; then we could finally start family traditions to be passed on and shared with other families.

But in the end of the day we are all just trying to make it successfully in this competitive world, where African Americans are still trying to be considered equal. But is the affirmation of acceptance really worth losing who you are, what and where you have come from. America is a big melting pot with different spices and elements, but how dynamics is a stew when all the ingredients taste the same or how important are those potatoes to the stew when it does not even stand out?