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African American Heritage and Culture Presentation

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Updated: Aug 29th, 2022

Brief History of African Americans

  • African Americans arrived in America in the colonial era to work in cane plantations as a result of slavery.
  • They formed part of the lucrative trade in slave labor fuelled by slave raiding parties (Niles, 2010 ).
  • Slave trade was rampant across the world, with Africa serving as one of the main catchment areas.
  • After the abolishment of slave trade, and the subsequent abolishment of segregations laws, African Americans attained full citizenship in America.
  • Their unique history since the era of slave trade continues to play a significant role in their lives today.
Brief History of African Americans


  • The value system of African Americans does not vary a lot from the general values espoused by other Americans.
  • Most of their values emanate from their historical and cultural experience. African Americans are strong supporters of democratic ideals, personal freedoms, and the freedom of religion.
  • Values emphasized by African Americans include:
    • Strong communal ties derived from their African roots and their collective experience during slavery and during the years of segregation (Scott, 2005);
    • Strong commitment to religion;
    • Strong sense of personal and family pride that at times hinder them from seeking help (Jones, 2008).

Language and Communication Patterns

  • Language:
    • African Americans no longer speak the native languages from their African heritage.
    • Depending on specific social circumstances, some use a distinct form of slang (Laster, 2001).
    • The more affluent African Americans tend to use the standard form of American English.
  • Communication Patterns:
    • The communication patterns of affluent African Americans does not vary in a notable way from the standard communication patterns.
    • The less affluent African Americans tend to use street language most of the time.
Language and Communication Patterns

World View

  • African Americans have a higher distrust for the government than most Americans (Jones, 2008).
  • They also do not trust the criminal justice system and the mainstream media(Jones, 2008). This may be attributed to the high crime rate among African Americans.
  • African Americans mainly view life as a struggle. This is a legacy of slave trade and segregation.
  • African Americans believe that solidarity is necessary for their survival.
World View

Arts and Expressive Forms

  • Arts and expressive forms developed by African Americans have a strong correlation with the historical experiences of the community.
  • The most recognizable form of African American art is hip hop music (Niles, 2010) This genre emanated from the need to have a means of expressing the frustrations of daily life that African Americans were experiencing.
  • Other art forms developed by African Americans also carry the message of emancipation.
  • Music and visual art (such as graffiti) continue to play a key role in the expression of African American views in the American society (Scott, 2005).
Arts and Expressive Forms

Norms and Rules

  • The norms in African American lifestyle are similar to the norms of the American society in many ways. Societal phenomenon such as materialism affect them in similar ways.
  • They also suffer from the same problems affecting Americans in general. For instance African Americans have high instances of obesity, which is comparable to other Americans.
  • Specific norms that are pronounced among the African Americans include:
    • A Strong sense of community;
    • Organization of groups and families around clear power structures (Jones, 2008);
    • Ability to integrate with other communities.
Norms and Rules

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • The African American lifestyle revolves around the extended family unit.
  • African Americans have managed to maintain the extended family structure partly as a means of survival.
  • Since African American families tend to be less affluent in their communities, the sharing and competition for resources is normal.
  • African Americans also have worse socio-economic indicators compared to most Americans. This includes:
    • low unemployment rates;
    • high crime rates;
    • higher infant mortality;
    • lower wellness levels;
    • lower academic achievements (Ulmer, 2010).
Lifestyle Characteristics

Relationship Patterns

  • African Americans grow up in communal settings.
  • Usually, African American families have members of the extended family living with them at any one time.
  • Grandparents (especially grandmothers) play a vital role in holding extended families together (Jones, 2008).
  • Many African American families are headed by women.
  • There is also a higher incidence of single parent families among African Americans that the national rate.
Relationship Patterns

Degree of Assimilation

  • African Americans tend to integrate into their host communities.
  • This seems to be a form of adaptation they have learnt after centuries of slavery, servitude, and segregation.
  • This does not mean that they lose their identity. It only means that they find a way to survive in their environment quickly and easily.
  • African Americans also intermarry freely with other people groups. More than 50% of all African Americans today have at least one ancestor from a different racial descent (Ulmer, 2010).
Degree of Assimilation

Heath Behaviors and Practices

  • African Americans have the lowest life expectancy in America (Niles, 2010).
  • Researchers attribute this to lower education levels, and a higher poverty incidence (Scott, 2005).
  • African Americans also have the highest infant and maternal mortality within America (Niles, 2010).
  • African Americans also rely more on traditional medicine and faith than other Americans (Jones, 2008).
  • African Americans have access to a disproportionately low level of healthcare benefits. They also benefit the least from health insurance.
Heath Behaviors and Practices


Jones, C. (2008). . Web.

Laster, K. (2001). The Law as Culture. Perth: Federation Press.

Niles, N. J. (2010). Basics of the U.S. Healthcare System. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Scott, J. H. (2005). The African American Culture. The African American Leadership Forum (pp. 1-9). White Plains, NY: Pace University.

Ulmer, C. (2010). Future Directions for the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Reports. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "African American Heritage and Culture." August 29, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/african-american-heritage-and-culture/.


IvyPanda. (2022) 'African American Heritage and Culture'. 29 August.

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