Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Color of My Culture

Do African Americans have a culture that is unique to them and their experience? I believe that we do.

Several months ago I read a post from a woman that bothered me a great deal. She was writing in response to a black woman who had been raised in a transracial family. She recited the standard, "We are all the same and people should not focus on race." Someone in the chain of respondents mentioned something about black culture and the first woman asked, "do black people have a culture? We are all Americans." It reminded me of a woman that I worked with many years ago that asked me a similar question. She wanted to know, "What is the big deal about black culture, smoking, drinking, drugs? Why would you celebrate that?"

I have finally decided to respond. Below is a my answer that includes everything that I remember growing up in America as a little black girl. I've shared this with several friends from different parts of the country and they all immediately connected with the words. I read it to my father and he said that he was so true and emotional for him.

I have also added links, so that anyone can learn more if they want. In reading it would be interested to hear how much of it is familiar to your own experience. I'd also like to hear if it provides any value for adoptive parents that will race children from different colors.

The Color of My Culture
Valarie A. Washington

My culture is colored by the family that raised me. It is the soulful blackness of the church that loved me and the colorful mix of the the foods and flavors that nourished me. My culture is the red-hot rhythmic dance of a people, the jazzy blues of music that beats in my heart, and the brown-eyed melodies of life that I learned how to sing.

The color of my culture is dark green and life affirming like collard greens on Thanksgiving. It's rich and strong in orange fibrous keratin like yams on Sunday afternoon. It is golden yellow like fresh cornbread crisp from that old cast iron skillet, and it is the conspicuous black spot staring back at me from black-eyed peas cooked on New Years day. My culture is as colorful as any soul food dinner served on mix-matched plates and as shiny as the Reynold's wrap we use to take our plates to go. It's sour green pickles, wine candy, red kool-aid, grape now-n-laters, red-hots, lemon heads, and bomb-pops. Continue.


graceling said...

I read the rest of the post over at "color of my culture."

Thank you so much for sharing!

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Grace, thank you for reading.

ManyBlessings said...

I am the white mom of a little guy who just came home from Haiti. I loved this article and need to thank-you for posting it. I definitely realize I will never be able to be the black mom my son should have had, had his mother lived, but as his mom now, I can try my darndest to make sure he is raised to be a proud, black man. And because of my wish, I thank-you for linking that article for me.

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]