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  • K.L.

Divided We Fall (for anything)


Building a strong cultural identity is essential for the survival of any community. For African American families it is especially important. Taking into account the past 500 years facing kidnaping, torture, murder, taxation without representation, discrimination, psycho-emotional trauma, & oppression, it is challenging to develop & maintain a strong cultural identity. However, by drawing on ancient & current understandings of culture, we can optimize our efforts & build a strong, resilient, & meaningful cultural identity that connects us to our past, present, and future.

First, let's explore what culture means in basic terms & why it is important. Culture refers to the shared beliefs, customs, practices, & values of a group of people. It is a way of life that we pass down from generation to generation, shaping the identity & worldview of individuals within that group. Culture provides a sense of belonging, a shared history, & a framework for understanding the world and our place in it. During the 2020 pandemic, a huge amount of African Americans practiced the custom of showing that chicken had high value by spending $65 million on a chicken sandwich in one weekend. We must return a culture in alignment with the one that garnderned the level of freedom we have earned so far. One that is a source of resilience, a tool for resistance against oppression & which insures the growing success of our people.

From an ancient perspective of culture it is a living, breathing organism that evolves over time. This means that culture is not fixed, but rather is shaped by the people who practice it. Similar to a child being raised by the people & environment it is born in. Family, we can draw on this imagery to actively shape & build our culture, one family at a time. We can do this by exploring our histories, traditions, & customs, & infusing them with new meanings & practices that are relevant to our current lives.(SANKOFA)

For example, we can draw on the ancient practice of storytelling to connect with our past & build a sense of community. The ancestors are renowned for a rich tradition of storytelling that dates back to before Ta-Sti in Africa. By sharing stories of our ancestors, our struggles, discoveries, our creations, & our triumphs, we can weave a deep sense of shared history & identity. We will also use storytelling to pass down the values, knowledge, beliefs, customs to equip & empower future generations.

Another way to build our cultural identity is by embracing unity & celebrating our diversity. The concepts of African American or Black can blur the reality that there are many shades, sizes, backgrounds & expressions of our people. The programs & remnants of the events of the past half century still have enough of a hold on us to keep us divided, within & amongst each other. Afterall, we must be. To unconsciously unite to waste that much money on a sandwich. By acknowledging & celebrating our diversity while simultaneously making every effort to uncover how the differences fit together for the good of the whole we can create a sense of unity that transforms the trauma to triumph.

One current understanding of culture is that it is not only shaped by the people who practice it, but also by the larger social, political, & economic context in which it exists. To be effective in the Internal work that must be a priority, we also need to be mindful of the ways in which external forces impact our cultural identity. For example, we need to be aware of the impact of the rhetoric around systemic racism, justice & values on our cultural practices. Active work to resist & challenge mentalities & methods that have not served us well.

Finally, we can optimize our efforts to build a strong cultural identity by actively engaging in established cultural practices & traditions. This means moving forward as families; attending cultural events, participating in community activities, & supporting African American artists, musicians, & writers. By actively engaging in our cultural practices, we can create a sense of pride, connection, & belonging. With some exposure, your family can build its own versions & create unique ways to express meaning & gratitude.

In conclusion, building a strong cultural identity is essential for all of our families. By drawing on both ancient & current understandings of ourstory, we can optimize our efforts to build a resilient, meaningful, powerful & profitable cultural identity that connects us to all, past & future. We can do this by actively shaping each moment with our families, fostering unity in our diversity as a community, resisting external forces that intend to impact our practices, & actively engaging in & refining our own traditions & practices. No one can love us like us. Power & Prosperity beloved.

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