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FunTimes Magazine

Individual Perspectives on Cultural Identity

Mar 10, 2016 08:00AM ● By Rayna Weddington


Marwa Samara

How do you identify yourself? 
Arabian, Middle-eastern, Palestinian, Jordan

What does it mean to be a Black in America?
It means diversity

How do you integrate your cultural heritage in your day to day life? 
At home, we are cultural by eating different food, designing our house differently.

Do you feel that if you embrace only your traditional values you then are being disloyal to the U.S. or vice versa?
No, I feel I can be both ways as long as I'm not sinning, I wouldn't feel disloyal.

What contributes to pain and/or pride-feeling of being American with African/Caribbean roots? 
If you are "African American"or "Black" what gives you pride and joy living in America? 
 When others support my culture, religion and ethnicity, it feels good because it's hard to be accepted in today's society.

How do you identify with or relate to other people of color? i.e. African vs. Caribbean, Black vs. African, etc. 
When it comes to racism or segregation, I feel connected with other people of color. In this society if you are not white, you are black. And the majority does not support the diversity of colored people. 

40-6Lorenzo Pierce

How do you identify yourself? 
Black, born in America.

What does it mean to be a Black in America? 
To be Black in America means that we were made to be so called "inferior", but usually what happens is our culture, labor, resilience, etc. is exploited for profit, therefore our contributions make this system run, so how can we be inferior?

How do you integrate your cultural heritage in your day to day life? 
 The music I listen to, the way I dress, express myself, hair, etc.

Do you feel that if you embrace only your traditional values you then are being disloyal to the U.S. or vice versa? 
No not at all, no person of African descent should ever feel like they are disloyal to that great empire.

What contributes to pain and/or pride-feeling of being American with African/Caribbean roots?
If you are "African American" or "Black" what gives you pride and joy living in America? 
 As a Black man in America, I have no sense of pride or joy with being "American." I get pride and joy simply from being Black: being resilient, strong and wise based on my political condition of being born in America.

What bias have you felt is built in to American society? 
Simply, it's the bias of forcing inferiority on one group of people and placing superiority on the other (majority, so far) group.

How do you identify with or relate to other people of color? 
I identify and relate to all people of color, though our experiences all may be different, in some sense they are similar because collectively we are all people of color, and we have all experienced some type of oppression. 

Photo by Khiry Worrell 


Mark Kieh

How do you identify yourself? 
 As an African.

What contributes to pain and/or pride re becoming American with African roots? 
My lack of knowledge of my cultural heritage is the only thing that pains me when it comes to being an African raised in America. I very proud of my heritage but it saddens me to know that so much of our history will be lost as we and our families become more American.

What is perceived as "being American" what does that look like/feel like? 
Assimilating to the "main stream" American culture and rejecting any-or-all of your non-American heritage.

What makes it of value to maintain one's family heritage and values? 
It provides a strong sense of who you are and where you came from.

What makes it of value to develop "actions/values" with the mainstream American society? 
The "value" in some cases is growth and in most cases survival. In order to survive anywhere you have to adopt some of the inhabitants' culture.

How do you experience the predominant American cultural value of dichotomous (either/or) thinking? 
America is so much of a White vs Black place that it is extremely difficult for a young immigrant to find his/her cultural identity. It goes past being proud to be an American or Anti-American. There is that ridiculous thought process that if you're not white, then you're black. If you're Black but you have a strong accent, you're not Black-American, or if your complexion is lighter or darker you're different. This subconscious segregation of people is what makes it hard to find an identity in American. "If you don't look like us, you're against us." 


Shakira Bowman

Comment on your Cultural Identity Experience.
I identify myself as a part of earth, a part of what is everything, nothing more or less. In society I am a black Philadelphian. Being black in America means that I have an abundance of untapped potential that I am highly aware of. Nonetheless, untapped potential that has systemic barricades around it from not just the government, but racist white people, or white people who are unaware of their white privilege.

I feel forced to incorporate American culture into my day to day life. It just so happens that my people are just now beginning to find their way back to our roots on a wide scale. I am not yet able to abandon the dollar bill and live a new way of life. So, I do as most do and work different jobs to pay to survive. Being Black isn't something I can technically remove from myself and I wouldn't want to, and it flows naturally through everything I do.

I don't think embracing my traditional values is being disloyal to the U.S. public, but in terms of the government I feel the opposite. It isn't set up to embrace black people at all let alone our traditional values. I find joy in the youth of the US because of their (or our) level of consciousness. I also find joy in my friends and family, and life in general. As bad as it may seem I still have to find peace in my immediate surroundings. I do dislike the invisible U.S. sanctions, and the mind control and brainwashing of the masses. I also dislike how they make it nearly impossible for alternative living.

I recently worked for a woman who was an immigrant from Argentina. The entire shop basically paid homage to her culinary linage but she came off racist and ignorant to black and brown, and lower class people's struggle... even though she was raised around black and brown people. It's like when people are elevated financially they get a bourgeoisie syndrome and start acting brand new, forgetting where they came from.

I feel a deeper connection to all Black people I see. Don't get me wrong I acknowledge, appreciate, and care for everyone I come into contact with, but now I have a better understanding of the black boys and men that used to intimidate and turn me off with their stares and perverted calls. I see young black boys and I see a little brother, and with black girls I see sisters. I can't say I always felt that way growing up.