2008-10-05

Race & Culture In America


Someone requested this topic. As you know us black folks have been in America since it's inception. We have fought and died in every single war America has been involved in. Yes our history is probably unique in the respect of slavery and Jim Crow, but we are still much more similar to white americans than we are to any other group.

Now I will definitely say that African Americans have a very distinct culture. From our food, our music, even our relationship with our churches, being African American is a unique experience.

Let's talk about our similarities. I am coming from the South, and being from Texas, which at times claims to be it's own unique country, there are many similarities between whites and blacks here.

Even though the majority of whites here are Republicans and the majority of blacks here are Democrats, both show a strong relationship to the Christian church. Even though our churches are heavily segregated, they still discuss the same topics and share the same concerns. They use the same Bible and practice the same doctrine. My parents actually attend a multiracial church, with both white and black membership, and if you have seen the Potter's house or been to Joel Olsteen's, there are plenty of white and black folks attending.

Another thing blacks and whites share here in the South is food. My husband's ex step father eats crumble up, and he is white as the driven snow. My mother also eats crumble up. Crumble up, if you don't know is a disgusting concoction of cornbread, buttermilk or regular milk, and sugar. I for years thought this to be a food in line with chitterlings and pig feet, but then learned it is a food of country folk. White and black folks in the south eat Red Beans and Rice, they eat fried chicken, they like Bar-b-que, and a host of other things unique to the south. White people in the south also eat greens and cornbread, just like black people.

In terms of music and fashion, whites and blacks take from each other. Most popular music has blues roots, country and metal included. R&B and hip hop has mainstreamed, and the fashion that goes along with it. Many fashion trends at one time considered "white" has touched black culture. The love of Tommy Hilfiger was all the rage of black folks in the 1990s. Don't get me started on the love of Burberry back in the day, some folks took plaid way too far. That and people had set goals for themselves to see how much of the gucci logo one could wear at one particular time. These were brands traditionally European and associated with upper class white people at one time.Remember the plaid golf short and polo look that was all the rage of the mostly white country clubs in the 1980s? Kids of all hues were big on that look a season or two ago.

We also share another thing in common. Racism. Many whites and many blacks after 9/11 tended to be distrustful of those of middle eastern and Muslim descent. Many here, in particular Texas, seem to be upset at the illegal immigration problem and tend to direct the anger towards any and everyone of Mexican or perceived Mexican descent.

Other cultures tend to be very insular, not because they reject all things American, but because as they arrived here, they had to option to be insular, African Americans, although insular in some aspects, have always had to look at and partake in mainstream America in the workplace, in the schools, and even in our own neighborhoods.

I will say this, that with the current economic conditions, we will see less of an issue with race, but rather class. As there is a growing black middle class, those blacks will be able to better identify with the struggles and issues of whites in their same income bracket, than with blacks who are not, and yes racism will always be a factor, but economics will surpass that as the main concern as times get worse. If no one has a job, you can't blame any other race for "taking jobs". If black people are moving into white middle class neighborhoods, whites are forced to interact with blacks face to face, rather than from a distance, they have to confirm or deny their assumptions about black people head on, and not in theory like in the past.

I think regional culture, religion, and mainstream culture has bonded white and blacks together, even if they are still heavily segregated, there is an influence on each other, good and bad.