What is Black Culture? A Brief Introduction

A few months ago extreme right wing pundit, Anne Coulter stated on The View that she did not understand how people like Barak Obama, Alicia Keys and Halle Berry could see themselves as African Americans when their fathers did not raise them. This inane statement makes me realize that anti-black critics cannot see anything of value in our culture or history. The idea of “cultural dysfunction” has been conservative buzz phrase for the plight of many African Americans for decades. For example, why do some African American children do poorly in school? According to conservative pundit John McWhorter, it is because African American culture does not value education. Although the anti-intellectual  terms like nerd, geek and egghead all are all European American terms and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBSU) are alive and well in America, black culture is the sole culprit.

On a CSPAN program televised from the conservative Hoover Institute, a pundit from National Review claimed “cultural dysfunction” was the reason for the epidemic of unemployment in one of Chicago’s worst surviving housing projects. Of course it had nothing to do with the fact that the entire industrial infrastructure of Chicago had lost millions of jobs over the past three decades.

African American culture is combination of what was brought to this land by the African slaves, the segregation of blacks throughout American history and those values that make every American tear up when they see amber waves of grain. The intersection of poverty, centuries of racial oppression and lack of current opportunities produce create the dysfunction not our culture. If one actually took this biased theory seriously  one can say that European  Americans are also dysfunctional. Some small towns, Midwest industrial cities and rural towns are now populated with  unwed mothers, unemployment citizens, drugs dealing and white on white  violence. All the ills that are casually attributed to black culture. Is any one ready to attribute these ills to European descended culture?

Black culture can be seen in religion, language, family structure, food ,music, dance, literature, art and so much more. It is about the community and the individual, the accumulation of wealth and giving back to the community, the coolness and the swagger, and the spoken word and the written prose, to name a few. Aspects of black culture  inform American life  in a multitude of ways. I hope to illustrate some of these ways and upcoming blogs in a manner that separates the dysfunction from the culture.


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