My name is Lane Kidd, and I was born January 19, 1978, in Shreveport, Louisiana. I have two sisters, which are 11 months apart, and 7-8 years older than myself. I am the youngest. For those whom I would say know me personally, or at work, would probably say I am an average guy who works hard and because of some of my life’s experiences, perceive that I play hard. Truth is, I don’t play enough. There is always something that can be getting done. Growing up as a child, the slogan “Don’t put off tomorrow for what you can do today”, was embedded in me and at times, I can honestly say that I take that literally.
My parents worked extremely hard and rarely did I ever see them take days off. The days my mother did take vacation from her job, mostly was for, as she called it, “The Clean Sweep!” This was never good for my sisters, nor my father because the clean sweep meant if it were laying out on the floor or not put up in its proper place, it was probably going in the trash. As I think back, it was always close to trash day pick up. The same went for my father. He never exercised his vacation rights either. The times he did, it was to tend to the animals he raised, whether it was for repairs or for the slaughter, there was always work being done. My life growing up consisted of productivity, but most importantly, the culture I grew up in evolved around hard working, African American men and women. I too, am an African American male, and I am forty years old.
I was unaware of how many people from diverse countries can’t differentiate black men from African men. America is my nationality. I am an African American, or Black male. It was never difficult for me to differentiate between the two because I didn’t grow up around any Africans; therefore, I didn’t know or wouldn’t have known the difference myself. The predicament for me began as a child when my father made certain that I knew that there was a difference in this world between blacks and whites, and by no means would we (his kids) be what white folk perceived blacks to be by what they had seen on television, and whether I liked it or not, it was something I’d better accept. There were reasons the men in our community worked hard and all the time.
We didn’t grow up in an underprivilege community, nor did we attend underprivilege schools. Majority, if not all the men in our community were educated and successful in their career. Growing up, there was a sense of self identification and most importantly, having the will to succeed; whatever success meant to you. As the years move forward, I noticed that around high school, there was a huge difference between whites and blacks socially. For example, it is learned quickly that most of the kids that grew up playing sports together and having sleepovers, were no longer allowed to participate in other races’ functions. The high school I attended had three student parking lots: whites, blacks, and everybody else. As a mid to late teen is when I began realizing that being an African American or Black male is different from being white. It was weird that I couldn’t socialize with certain white friends that I had much of my life.
As time moved forward, I began to accept the fact that there were just some people, due to the color of my skin, did not accept me as their equal, and whether I had known them as kids or not, seemingly, it simply wasn’t acceptable to associate with blacks as white people with certain social and/or economic status. In the United States, there is a tendency that whites live amongst whites, while blacks live amongst the blacks. This isn’t the case for every community, but many of them. The difference in seasons brings out the differences in races of people. In the summer time, majority of white people gather up their boats and life preservers, and head for the lakes. However, black people, on the other hand, mostly choose to gather in parks and barbeque, even though it’s already 100 degrees.
When you compare the cultures between blacks and whites, there are some similarities, but there are several differences. Even though we grow up in the same country and learn from the same or similar institutions, the way we eat, dress, socialize, and even our religious practices are different. For example, most African Americans eat unhealthily until they reach an age where they learn that our habits are not fit for a healthy lifestyle. This is mainly because during slavery, African Americans fed and cooked for white families. The blacks didn’t earn enough wages to provide much food for theirs, so they had to make do with the scraps they were given. Mostly, this was the left over from the pig or whatever they could get their hands on. African Americans cook food in grease and butter, which are unhealthy. As a child, it seemed as that the only animals that the black men did raise were pigs and cattle; two animals where the bulk of our meat comes from. With days of work on the job and coming home to provide for their families, there was little to no time for exercising.
It was a culture shock in some ways because in the white communities, you would always see someone walking or running down the street, exercising. This was a rare occasion in my community. In my neighborhood, the resources for health and fitness isn’t accessible. There are no 24-hour gyms and the fitness centers we did have were across town in the white communities, with a membership needed. Truth be told, majority of blacks in my community made excuses for not working out, whether it was too tired, or the convenient old age rebuttal. There were those that did exercise, and they were willing to drive the distance to utilize the fitness facilities. Again, the issue wasn’t limited to transportation, finances played a major role.
As African Americans, even though successful, didn’t condone to paying for or creating bills that wasn’t considered a need. Although fitness is extremely important, in black communities then, it was not considered a necessity. The culture I was raised in, the work that had to be done around the house or the farm was about as much exercise as one could get; and it was saving money so to speak. As I got older and moved to the city, in a white community, I must admit that I wasn’t used to the amenities that came with living in a predominantly white area. Although health and fitness are dissimilar, both cultures rely heavily on religion. It may be difficult to notice by watching the interactions between the black churches and white churches, but they do have their similarities. While they both teach from the same bible, the teachings and worships services are different.
The ministry is heavy on my father’s side of the family, but both of my parents come from strict religious backgrounds. When my parents were growing up, religion was a part of daily life for blacks. It is where majority of congregating and festivities took place; food, games, etc. It was a time when families came together to really get to know one another because each other was all they had, and everyone took care of everyone and their children. The saying went, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” This is how blacks lived, while celebrating and soaking in as much wisdom from the elderly. For in those times, it was nothing for the neighbors to get together and have a feast for the new family that recently moved into the community.
This was the culture of African Americans and religion. As I have gotten older, I sit with my mom and question her on how things were then when she was a child versus how things are now as I raise mine; simply to gain a bit more knowledge on the culture of yesterday to today. Listening to some of her stories makes it difficult for me at times to imagine raising my kids in her time. She would explain how they would go to church every day. I can’t imagine going every single day, but listening to her, this was the thing to do. This was the road to success so to speak. She explained how it strengthens the community and kept the trail blazing for those coming behind them.
The more I learned about my culture, the more I realized that religion played a vital role in our upbringing. It is still the same today, but my generation does share its differences. Religion is still heavy in African American communities, but we don’t attend service every day of the week, and most importantly, the services are much shorter. Also, there are a lot less festivities going on due to majority of black churches now are comprised of many people who worship together but go about their own separate lives afterwards. In my opinion, I have learned that religion is a culture within its own, and both white and blacks maneuver in the culture by how they were raised and the religion that they were surrounded by, ie: Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, etc.
While both black and white people read and teach from the same bible, the atmosphere and culture of religion is different. In the white culture, church service is quiet and absolutely no one is yelling to the top of their lungs begging for a witness. In my culture, on the other hand, after 3 prayers, 4 scripture readings, and an A & B selection from the choir, it’s already been a couple hours and the preacher hasn’t come close to the sermon. Each culture has its positive and negative. The African American culture in religion requires plenty of patience and discipline because church wasn’t ending anytime soon. I can say it taught me both. There were consequences for not learning both, and in the black culture, any parent, other than your own had full rights to see to it that you did learn those two qualities and quickly.
Most people, like myself, grow up in one culture; only being exposed to views that is being presented to them. While enrolled in the military, that experience afforded me the opportunity to view other cultures up close other than on television. What I learned was that each culture has its own opinions and views on how the society should operate. Not being multicultural like many people in foreign countries, has raised a certain awareness in myself of how different other cultures can be. I represent the African American culture and that is the only culture I can knowingly converse on. Having the opportunity to travel to other countries allowed me to explore other cultures and their languages. Unfortunately, I speak only one language; which is English.
Acquiring the life skills I received from the US Navy, I am grateful for the valuable lessons I obtained along the way. Throughout these experiences, I have been able to practice different cultures, increase valued knowledge on different religions, and have learned, in some form to communicate in different languages with others. These experiences can’t be purchased. I am grateful for having the opportunity to enhance my knowledge on not only other cultures, but myself as well.
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