A brotha from another message board contends that:

"We have this warped idea that we are Africans in the cultural sense and don't know what that means. We want to acknowledge the holocaust of enslavement on one hand and its effects, but at the same time we want to claim that we are still African in the cultural sense and don't know what that means. Conversations like this force you examine what you think you know about culture. Chiekh Anta Diop wasn't writing about there ever being a singular Black culture and state. He was writing and researching to demonstrate the similarities and the deep connection of Africa to BUILD a federated state of Africa and develop a continent wide language and culture. That's what Black Africa: An Economic and Cultural Basis for a Federated State was all about. Obviously there couldn't have been a single African culture or his work makes no sense what's so ever.

Dr. Amos Wilson stated: (Blueprint for Black Power Pg58) ?This coalescence of subcultural social units is usually organized and motivated by a mutually recognized leadership or governing establishment. This establishment usually fulfills its responsibilities through the creation, issuance and enforcement of policies. At this level of organization a culture may be defined as a political organization which exercises political power in its defense, economic and social interests as a whole, and in the interest of its subcultural group and individual members.?

....Dr. Maulana Karenga's 7 Criteria for Culture: history, mythology, creative motif, ethos, social organization, POLITICAL ORGANIZATION, and ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION.

....culture is essentially a political activity. As Dr. Wilson notes, "This coalescence of subcultural social units is usually organized and motivated by a mutually recognized leadership or governing establishment." All of this speaks to the fact that culture is organized by people: it is not a random accident. People put together a governing body to represent the people. If you do not have this body, how can you possibly have a culture? Who is the RECOGNIZED LEADERSHIP? How were they chosen?

Pay attention to Karenga's criteria, especially social, political and economic organization. How can you ORGANIZE without having a meeting or meetings and establishing a governing body? Does organization happen without people? This is the whole point of this aspect of the cultural debate. As Dr. Amos Wilson would say, "Ultimately culture is a conspiracy." To conspire means to organize, plan, have intent. If your people never sat down to organize and create the social conditions necessary to develop a certain type of human being in your community, to use your genius to gain, maintain and utilize power, you do not have a culture. Period. You are a loose population trying to find yourself with minor successes.

A culture has an organizing body that represents the people and sets policy within the community to shape behavior, attitudes and tastes. So the objective is to get people to understand the deeper aspects of culture, recognize you don't have one, so you can be motivated to create one like your ancestors did. As Marcus Garvey would say, "What humans have done, humans can do." I think he's right. Now this core extends to the African debate, because there NEVER, I repeat, NEVER was a continent wide political organization or state to claim that there was an AFRICAN culture in which to say we are Africans culture. Africa did not exist for "African" people. Africa is a concept create by Europeans, not by the people on the continent itself. There never was an "African" language in which to articulate, organize and categorize the universe we live in. That is an American, Pan-Africanist fantasy.

We can't move forward thinking we have something in which we do not. Build what you need, then move forward. I pointed out in the debate that without speaking an "African" language, you have no idea of what it means to be African. Your claim is only biological, not cultural. As Diop notes in Civilization or Barbarism, the cultural personality consist of three parts: Historical, Linguistic and Psychological. African-Americans in mass only can connect historically, on a biological basis. African-Americans do not speak an African language. We speak English. You cannot argue that AA's have the full Psychology of traditional African cultures because they don't speak the languages to know know the nuances. In the end, based on the cultural criteria articulated in the debate, we, as a collective are Americans with Africanisms. Until you recover the Linguistic and Psychic factors expressed by Diop, and you organize your cultural units as expressed by Karenga and Wilson, you DO NOT have a CULTURE, let alone an "African" one. Even this concept of Africa is problematic"

Thoughts?

>>><<<<>>>><<<<>>>><<>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<>

 

"Study the people who took you out of history. Then you'll understand your history." -Arturo Alfonso "Arthur" Schomburg

 

"For your survival, draw on the intellectual heritage of the whole world, but always start with your own intellectual heitage".

--Dr. John Henrik Clarke

 

"The surest way to kill a race is to kill its religion and ideals. Can anybody doubt that the white race deliberately attempted to do that? This is to kill the souls of a people. And when the spirit is killed, what remains?"

--Frederick Peso, Mascalero Apache

 

"Sure there are a few good whites just as much as there are a few bad Blacks. However what we are concerned here with is group attitudes and group politics. The exception does not make a lie of the rule - it merely substantiates it."

--Steve Biko

Original Post
Reference:
You cannot argue that AA's have the full Psychology of traditional African cultures because they don't speak the languages to know know the nuances. In the end, based on the cultural criteria articulated in the debate, we, as a collective are Americans with Africanisms. Until you recover the Linguistic and Psychic factors expressed by Diop, and you organize your cultural units as expressed by Karenga and Wilson, you DO NOT have a CULTURE, let alone an "African" one. Even this concept of Africa is problematic" Thoughts?
To what extent does CULTURE focus on the past and attempt to prevent change.  Or to be more precise the traditionalists in every culture attempt to prevent change.  All you have to do is watch Fiddler on the Roof.

TRADITION, TRADITION, TRADITION!!!

How much is a global internet part of the tradition of ANY CULTURE that has ever existed?  How much has television affected American culture in 60 years?  What will the internet do world wide in another 50 years.

The traditionalists versus the futurists is a global problem and Black Americans are less up to date than most.  It isn't just about having the technology it is what to do with it.

What are the Africans trying to become?  And of course they don't all agree.

Xum
This is the relationship that matters.

I am reminded of the saying about ‘taking the boy out of the country’.

A very aggressive attempt has been mounted to get the Africa out of the Africans.

And...we are Africans...in our heritage...just as we are Americans...in our heritage.

That is why I have chosen to identify ‘me and mine’ as African American.

It is our heritage.

It is our Identity.

My descendants, my children, are as African as I am...once removed.

I am as African as my (both) my parents...once removed.

They were as African as both their parents...once removed...., and

In that prior generation, the parents of my grandfather each had a biological parent who was of European descent.

That is as much as we...The Chester Family...has been able to document.

Therefore, I and my descendants are of African descent.

The same is true...to greater or lesser degree...of all Africans.

As for ‘me and mine’...

We are Americans who are African American.

The rest is ‘tap dancing’.

PEACE

Jim Chester
Reference:
You cannot argue that AA's have the full Psychology of traditional African cultures because they don't speak the languages to know know the nuances. In the end, based on the cultural criteria articulated in the debate, we, as a collective are Americans with Africanisms. Until you recover the Linguistic and Psychic factors expressed by Diop, and you organize your cultural units as expressed by Karenga and Wilson, you DO NOT have a CULTURE, let alone an "African" one. Even this concept of Africa is problematic" Thoughts?
For the most part, the article is correct with respect to the assertions about African Americans. The area where it fails, however, is in regard to its understanding of language. Language is much more than words, it involves what anthropologists and sociologist refer to as speech acts, that include ritual, customs, performance, and the way the body is positioned and carried in space.

I posted a piece on AfAm a few years ago now. It involved a black pentecostal minister preaching before his congregation that was recorded and played for a group of priest in the Yoruba tradition. Though the message was ostensibly Christian, when the preacher got to where he started "whooping", the Yoruba priest all jumped up and shouted Xango (Shango). In the movement, the tones, intonation, vocalizations, they identified the presence of an Orisha, specifically Shango. The pentecostal minister in all likelihood would have been offended with such an assertion. But the "speech act" conveyed something that was on the level of the unconscious. In fact, many West African conceptions of the self acknowledge the place of the unconscious in ways that in the West are associated with Freud.

Rituals such as baptism in African American churches resemble the water societies and rites of the Bakongo, and I could point to many other examples.

But there is also the point that several other respondents have made, that culture is not static. That culture is dynamic, and ever changing. I would suggest that the author of the piece above read Paul Gilroy's Black Atlantic. One of the things that Gilroy notes is that there have and continue to be a web of relationship among all peoples of the African diaspora, that has impacted all. Thus, African Americans, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-Europeans, and Africans have and continue to form and inform one another's cultures through literature - such as movements such as Negritude - music - spirituals, gospel, blues, jazz, hip hop, reggae, government - many African heads of state were educated abroad and where exposed to both the majority cultures as well as African diasporic culture.

Personally, I refer to myself as African American. When speaking collectively of Africans in the Diaspora, I will use terms such as Africana or Gilroy's concept of the Black Atlantic.
kresge:

Essentially, I agree with your examples.

I think I am more organic in defining 'African American' as being self-derived from/by those persons brought to the now-defined United States.

As a point of distinction, I don't think any of writers mentioned in this thread have ever addressed identity for 'us' much beyond 'color'...in the context of American.

We continue to 'work at it',.., and that is good.

PEACE

Jim Chester
Thank you who shared your thoughts on the subject matter.
I engaged the brotha on the other message board. One thing
in our previous discussion that I've brought up, and kresge alluded to it,
was culture being non-static. 

In any event, I reached out to the brotha (cool dude from what I can make of
his posts on the other message board), via email that he may come over
to AA.org and speak to us himself regarding the subject matter and perhaps
explain his assertion directly, with regard to culture and how we are, in
his words, "american with africanisms" among other things.
Geezuz, are we still having this screwball conversation?

You're not African. Ninety-percent of African Americans have several white ancestors.  

That's right, your great-great-granddaddy was a cracker.  

And that old-timey, "They never accepted me, so I don't accept them" is pure ignorance.  

True, they didn't accept you, but how does that make you not  a descendant of a cracker?
Reference:
That's right, your great-great-granddaddy was a cracker.

And is that supposed to negate the fact that I have greater-than him great-grandaddies that were descended from African blood?? 

And more than that  ... is that "cracker" somehow supposed to be more important?? 
You're not African. Ninety-percent of African Americans have several white ancestors.---121248

Then why do you use the term 'African Americans'?

I am concluding that you are doing it because you have concluded that those of us identify with that term are...in some way...'of Africa'.

In my case, I know I am 'of Africa', because my mother told me of our African relatives in the community into which she was born in Sumter County Georgia.

What's your story?

PEACE

JIm Chester
The piece, as a whole, is not very insightful, IMO.  All human populations have "culture."  And it takes a pretty fascist mindset to believe that you need a governing body and its organization in order to have a culture.  Culture evolves around behavior and language.  It is not something that is created and disseminated by a power structure. 

If the question is whether African-Americans are culturally "African," there are different ways to approach it.  But it's foolish to claim that we, or any other population, is "cultureless."
really enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts on this.  I'm sorry I didn't see it earlier.---NSpirit

This is worthwhile discussion.

It has occurred to me several times this week that we still have difficulty referring to people of African ancestry as indeed African.

We tend to try to mollify 'African' with terms like 'Afro' as used in referring to Cubans of African (unknown) ancestry.

I have bee practicing the thought process for addressing persons of unknown African ancestry living in other nations, e.g. Brazil, Columbia, Panama, Cuba, Jamaica, Santo Domingo, Bermuda, England, Gemany, etc.

I am concluding that 'African Cuba', African Brazilian', 'African English', 'African French' is accurate terminology.

What say you?

PEACE

Jim Chester
Reference:
I am concluding that 'African Cuba', African Brazilian', 'African English', 'African French' is accurate terminology.

What say you?

I think the best way would be to simply address them in whatever way they preferred or requested to be addressed. If they are comfortable with "Afro-" as an identity ... it seems like it would be disrespectful to address them as anything else.
I think the best way would be to simply address them in whatever way they preferred or requested to be addressed. If they are comfortable with "Afro-" as an identity ... it seems like it would be disrespectful to address them as anything else.---EbonyRose

I agree.

Until I know their preference, however, I must decide...on some term.

Thus the rationale I offered.

PEACE

Jim Chester
  All that in the article in my view is just another person's opinion.  What one identifies him/herself is personal.  Especially if there's a connection to Africa.  So many folks wanna tell blacks who they should be...including massa....from negrah, colored, darkie, coon, negro..afro-alladat!  It is a  historical choice and perception.  All those who derived from Africa....in Cuba, South America [Brazil in particular], North America...and the Islands as a DIRECT FORCED result of slavery have the right to keep that connection to Africa...if they wanna.  There are those of us who have been in so much denial regarding our culture and deny Africa as our [former] homeland...so much so that many used to pass for white....when they could.... cuz why?  They were cowards.  And took the easy way out.  Others who embraced who they are/were have been condemned, ridiculed, jailed, maimed, killed....all cuz of what another group of folks did to THEM!  And yet they still SCREAM at the top of their lungs.....that I am America....and African.  And to me that soooooo POWERFUL!!! As in why I am African-American...proudly. 

Peace and blessings to everyone who has commented. I would first like to say that the above quotes are not from an article, but responses to a dialogue. I have formulated my position in my latest book The Bakala of North America, The Living Suns of Vitality: In Search of a Meaningful Name for African-Americans.

The underlying questions which guide this discussion has to center on how we got the names that are currently accepted by Blacks in the new world and on the continent. Did we name ourselves, or were we named by others? If we were named by others, did they name us with our best interests in mind? Prior to colonialism, how did the indigenous people around the world name themselves and why?  What does our name mean, in a literal sense; not “what does it mean to me?” What are the positive qualities of African-Americans and do you think the names associated with us (Black, Colored, American, African, Negro, etc.) match those characteristics?

These are not random and trivial questions. For those who claim to be African, one must understand that for non-colonialized Africans, names are one of the most important aspects to one’s being, and this includes the community as well. So if one adopts a name for one-self, or one’s people and there is no inherent meaning behind it, that is not being “African” because names on the continent of Africa serve as a north-star guiding one towards their destiny. In other words, names encapsulate the purpose of the individual and a people.

I deal with this, with plenty of citations in the book. I would like to share a link real quick, from the Yoruba perspective, that helps to show one of the major differences between the “African” (Yoruba in this instance) and the African-American. You will see, in this respect, there is a BIG difference. I look forward to further dialogues.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbdOoLjfzGM

 

  Unfortunately.....we were NAMED as slaves by massa.  For hundreds of years that was just the way it was.  Many then did not EVEN know about Africa....and some who did denied it cuz they had no real knowledge of what this thing called  Africa was.  They were lied to by massa.  Given false information to justify being held in bondage.  And so this misformation carried throughout the seas and mountains.....through years after years of untruths.  We were deveined of its importance.  Deveined of what "names" totally meant as a person from Kmet.  But!  Massa knew what it meant to be misnamed.....and that is WHY he did it.  That's why we have names like Toby, George, Jefferson, William, Betsy, Sarah, Mary.  Cuz these names had EMPTY meanings.   These names had no destiny, no hope...no vision.  African names ALWAYS had meaning....toward the future.  At the time we were given these name....it truly meant we as slaves and descendants of slaves had no future, vision or hope in America-which for massa PROVED to be wrong....on all levels of our existence in this country.  Cuz why?  The true name of Africans.......run deeper than what massa preferred to historically call us.  Which means the names he gave us to poison our identity actually had NO "real" power over us.  And is why we were able to eventually burst through slavery as free people.  Cuz why?  Africa i.e. Kmet [and its people] is far MORE powerful....as originally thought.  But!  I'm just sayin
It's funny this thread has come up 'cause just a couple of days ago, out of the blue, I was thinking about the tragedy of how our history and heritage was destroyed and ripped away from us by us being given the names of our slaveholders ... the names that we carry to day ... and that because of that we have no connection to the long family history that could be connected to our REAL NAMES ... and that because of that, we will NEVER know who we really are supposed to be.

Your "surname" (is supposed to) carries your history ... and so many other people know what theirs is ... but, most of ours have been forever erased.  There's a certain sense of hopelessness and helplessness in that ... for anyone that wants to carry on the tradition of who they are and where they come from.  And, personally, I would like to be one of those people.

I think there's a difference in the names that we carry as individuals and the names - given or taken - as an identity of who we are as a people.  And I'm not sure which one this conversation is focusing on.  The "culture" of us naming our children is not our own ... but is adopted from our current circumstances of being African American.  The "culture" of us being named by others or in naming ourselves, as a community and as a people, on the other hand, is something different.
EbonyRose:   I've tried several times, yesterday, to post this reply, but the site won't accept it.  So I am doing this way:

It's funny this thread has come up 'cause just a couple of days ago, out of the blue, I was thinking about the tragedy of how our history and heritage was destroyed and ripped away from us by us being given the names of our slaveholders ... the names that we carry to day ... and that because of that we have no connection to the long family history that could be connected to our REAL NAMES ... and that because of that, we will NEVER know who we really are supposed to be.

Your "surname" (is supposed to) carries your history ... and so many other people know what theirs is ... but, most of ours have been forever erased.  There's a certain sense of hopelessness and helplessness in that ... for anyone that wants to carry on the tradition of who they are and where they come from.  And, personally, I would like to be one of those people.

I think there's a difference in the names that we carry as individuals and the names - given or taken - as an identity of who we are as a people.  And I'm not sure which one this conversation is focusing on.  The "culture" of us naming our children is not our own ... but is adopted from our current circumstances of being African American.  The "culture" of us being named by others or in naming ourselves, as a community and as a people, on the other hand, is something different.---EbonyRose

This is an excellent synopsis of the 'African American Circumstance'.

The 'something else' you allude to is ENTIRELY at our discretion.

That 'something else' will continue to be defined by 'others' as long as we allow it.

Our 'allowing it' is totally within the sovereignty of our individual, and collective, selves.

I exercised my individual sovereignty (authority) when I decided to retain, and live with the name of my parents.

Similarly, I exercised my individual sovereignty (authority) when I decided to retain, and live with my given names James Wesley, given to me by my parents.

I also exercised my individual sovereignty (authority) when I recognized, accepted, and declared my ethnicity, and ancestral nationality to be African American.

I further interpret African American Culture to be very multi-faceted.

There are some practices, and traditions to be found in most if not all African American communities.

These commonalities, however, are not in all features of our cultures.

It is our commonalities that constitute our ethnicity.

It is not our cultures.

Cultures are features of an ethnicity.

African may, or may not, be a part of any one of the components of our many cultures.

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