The Destruction of the African American Body and its Culture

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It is the year 1776, which marks as the end of British rule upon American soil. The United States of America have been birthed and with that promises and extensive literature which rely on the concepts of freedom, liberty, and equality. However, only for those who possessed the privilege.

In the next two centuries, minorities and indigenous inhabitants on American land would suffer the cruellest of faiths and be considered second class citizens by those who were supposed to be considered their peers and co-nationals. However, it is not only politics and history that contribute to the intolerance towards minorities and African Americans. The media also projects impossible beauty and health standards to young black minds, imposing examples such as Kate Moss or Giselle Bündchen upon young African American women. Tall, blonde with straight hair, light eyes and impossibly thin bodies that encourage the rejection of heritage and culture and almost as to impose disgust towards who they are as being Caucasian is the preferred model to be in the USA.

“In America, it is traditional to destroy the black body--it is heritage” (Coates Ta-Nehisi, “Between the World and Me”, 2015). The following quote by author Ta-Nehisi Coates is true in nature, as since African slaves have arrived on American soil it has always been a priority to strip them of their dignity, culture, and exterior looks with the imposition of white culture standards from speech and clothing to beauty standards.

The following essay shall analyse and explain how the black body is routinely destroyed and forces African Americans almost to be ashamed of who and what they are.

Throughout American history, African Americans spent of their lives collectively fighting against inequality and injustice. They were always fighting for their right. They hated the inequaltity they and injustice which they had to face every day. That was killing them inside and then they started fighting for themselves.You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity and in as many ways as possible that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence. You were expected to make peace with mediocrity. (Baldwin, James. “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation”. 1962). This path written by author James Baldwin describes the expectations that were had of young African Americans. No freedom of choice and justice, just obeying to the rules established by another human being. Life at that time was very difficult for them.they were treated as slave and they had no option than to be the slave.

According to Coates,the dread was there in the excessive young men of my neighborhood, in their vast rings and emblems, their enormous puffy coats and full-length hide apprehended calfskins, which was their Armor against their reality. They would remain at the intersection of Gwynn Oak and Liberty, or Cold Spring and Park Heights, or outside Mondawmin Mall, with their hands plunged in Russell sweats.

I recollect on those young men now and all I see is dread, and all I see is them bracing themselves against the phantoms of the terrible days of yore when the Mississippi swarm accumulated 'round their granddads with the goal that the parts of the dark body may be burnt, at that point remove. This piece is colder and reflects the more violent aspect of being a minority in the United States of America, where violence at one point was openly accepted and installed fear in the descendants of the victims of such brutal acts as described by Coates. With the fear born within them, young men adopted an instant defence mechanism against everyone and not accepting that the world can be a better place if they express themselves and aim at changing society.

However, the change would arrive. Not everyone within the African American community would be content or remain quiet with regards to injustice and social inequalities. Audre Lorde is one of them. According to Lorde , Audre in her article, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” it is mentioned that the quietness won't ensure us. In any case, for each genuine word talked, for each endeavor she had ever constructed to talk those certainties for which she is yet looking for, she had reached other ladies while they inspected the words to fit a world in which they as a whole thought, connecting our disparities. What's more, it was the worry and minding of each one of those ladies which gave her quality and empowered her to examine the fundamentals of her living. The ladies who supported her through that period were Black and white, old and youthful, lesbian, promiscuous, and hetero, and we as a whole shared a war against the oppressive regimes of quiet.

The destruction of the African American body, and its culture, begins with the appropriation or the gradual destruction of belief. Religion has always been at the core of the African American soul as it was one of the very first instruments to provide relief to the slaves from their hard and forced labour in the plantations. The combination of constant social battering and losing faith produces a distorted Darwinian concept of survival of the fittest. Negroes proved that one needed, in order to be free, something more than a bank account. One needed a handle, a lever, a means of inspiring fear. Everyone at that time was seeking for the freedom , their way out and they were all fed up being the slaves of other. All they wanted was freedom.

It was absolutely clear that the police would whip you and take you in as long as they could get away with it, and that everyone else—housewives, taxi-drivers, elevator boys, dishwashers, bartenders, lawyers, judges, doctors, and grocers—would never, by the operation of any generous human feeling, cease to use you as an outlet for his frustrations and hostilities (Baldwin, James. Down at the Cross: Letter from a Region in My Mind. 1962).

However, not all African Americans gave up completely on wanting to cherish and continue with traditions that were more African than European. […] house this year we are celebrating the feat of Kwanza, the Africa-American festival of harvest which begins the day after Christmas and lasts for seven days. There are seven principles of Kwanza, one for each day (Lorde, Audre. “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”. 1977 page 42).

It is important, however, to bear in mind that in order to achieve justice and equality there must not be a contrasting force of negativity, ignorance, and non-acceptance. There should be the absence of negativity, one should always be focused and should never be ignored. One should always develop the habit of acceptance in order to achieve the things they want. There is a very powerful message given to us and this is how everyone should be working in order to be successful in whatever field they are working on. African Americans and other minority groups, therefore, should not replicate the same ignorance and hate that was perpetrated by members of the white elite otherwise they too would not be any better. They are as a result still found in a history which they don't comprehend and until the point when they comprehend it, they can't be discharged from it. They have needed to accept for a long time, and for countless reasons, that dark men are mediocre compared to white men

Over the years, many political and social punishments were installed and implemented in order to achieve the societal order desired. This entailed the establishment of prison institutions that were strengthened by an equally inclement judiciary that saw minorities as a group to continuously punish and persecute.

Mass incarceration is a huge arrangement of racial and social control. It is the procedure by which individuals are cleared into the criminal equity framework, marked offenders and criminals, bolted up for longer timeframes than most different nations on the planet who imprison individuals who have been sentenced for violations, and after that discharged into a changeless below average status in which they are deprived of essential common and human rights, similar to one side to cast a ballot, the privilege to serve on juries, and the privilege to be free of lawful separation in work, lodging, access to open advantages. Curiously, The United States actually has a crime rate that is lower than the international norm, yet our incarceration rate is six to 10 times higher than other countries around the world (Alexander, Michelle. “A System of Racial and Social Control”. 2014).

Although the current political situation does not appear to favour the minority community and the people of colour, since Donald Trump was elected and the recently formed Supreme Court with Brett Kavanaugh. In every generation, every step forward, every bit of progress for the black and brown has faced a resounding pushback, or what Van Jones called “whitelash” on election night (Wise, Tim. 'Discovering the Light in Darkness: Donald Trump and the Future of America'. 2016). African Americans, together with the other minorities, have the gift of resilience, although there are collective attempts at destroying them, their bodies, and culture. When segregation was struck down, whites responded with massive resistance, shutting down schools to avoid integration, creating private white flight academies, hurling hateful words and bricks and rocks and bottles at black families seeking an equal education for their kids. But again, black people survived. Donald Trump will not change that. He cannot break what Bull Connor could not, what Sheriff Jim Clark could not on the Edmund Pettus bridge, what George Wallace could not, what Deputy Cecil Price could not in Philadelphia Mississippi, what Byron de la Beckwith could not when he murdered Medgar Evers, what the killers of Malcolm and Martin could not. (Wise, Tim. 'Discovering the Light in Darkness: Donald Trump and the Future of America'. 2016). The future may appear bleak; however, there is still hope. Resilience and rebellion are traits of the people of colour, who are used to being pressured by others to conform. Race relations will change, but it is also importance to finish education and make a stand for inequality in society, otherwise not much can change. In conclusion, Ta-Nehisi Coates perfectly describes how it is typical of American culture to destroy the black body. This is not only imposed by history but also with strict social rules and by media constructs. Amongst young black men there is repression and fear because of the perpetrated violence that has occurred throughout the decades. However, not all is lost as many brave souls have rebelled and accomplished small steps. Although the current political climate is not of the best, this will hopefully still provide inspiration to rebel and impose a societal rule where everyone is equal no matter race, gender, or faith. 

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The destruction of the African American body and its culture. (2021, Oct 10). Retrieved May 20, 2024 , from

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