Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”
A tree without roots is displaced, knocked around and dies. The root also dies without the tree. The roots need the nutrients from the leaves, which we all know the sun and leaves do this thing called photosynthesis. So both eventually die. Looking at the conditions of African-Americans today, it is evident that the tree and the roots are dying.
African-Americans are ashamed to be called African. If you attempt to try to connect an African-American to their culture, they will dismiss it as, “That African stuff,” “non-Christian” or say “Africans don’t even like us!” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but a lot of you Africans in America may not have been born in Africa, but Africa sure is born into you and slaves didn’t come here as Christians. Many of us know that, but the truth is we have adopted cultures and traditions that are not even our own. Asians, Jews, Germans, Irish, Native Americans and Hispanics all celebrate their own traditions and cultures but us. That is because we have been disconnected from our roots.
What is culture?
Broadly, social heritage of a group (organized community or society). It is a pattern of responses discovered, developed, or invented during the group’s history of handling problems which arise from interactions among its members, and between them and their environment. These responses are considered the correct way to perceive, feel, think, and act, and are passed on to the new members through immersion and teaching. Culture determines what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable. It encompasses all learned and shared, explicit or tacit, assumptions, beliefs, knowledge, norms, and values, as well as attitudes, behavior, dress, and language.
As you can see, culture is not just about wearing dreads, dashikis and wearing symbols of the continent of Africa around your neck. Culture is a set of principles, a philosophy and an accountability system with ourselves. Culture is within us. When you rip culture away from a group of people, you affect their mind. It then disrupts the process of learning, disrupts the process of developing a sense of self, community and family. If you don’t believe me, just look at the conditions of African-Americans today. The truth is right in front us and around us all the time.
How can we know who we are if we have not identified with our very own culture? We don’t. That is why we mimic identities and personalities from what we see on television and music. This is why positive music and television shows don’t make it main stream. People always ask, “What are we going to do about black on black crime?” “Why are the churches not helping and it’s one on every corner?” The answer is simple….it’s by design and we have NO CULTURE. We lack that African stuff called, “African Centeredness.”
How do you connect to African Culture?
Locate African organizations in your community that teach African Culture. Read your books to familiarize yourself with African traditions and teach your children about Africa and their family tree. Attend African centered festivals and events. Here is a link to get you started.