Good Afternoon, readers! Lens of The People is a column dedicated to the capture of the real-life scenarios and events in the local Houston area whilst also giving the thoughts and opinions of the Houston community itself its own voice to speak through.
African American culture is contagious. It is frankly one of America’s most historical and impactful communities and assets to America, as a whole. And as time goes on, our culture continues to make strides to impact and serve America’s various trends, as well as prove that the creativity of African Americans is something that is inherently unique and captivating. It is for this reason that movies such as “Black Panther” and “Us” are always met with such critical acclaim. The perspectives that we as African Americans have are unique. Our thought processes, the way we live our lives, etc. It is this Black perspective that has come to be synonymous with America as a whole. But how much has the African American community contributed to America, and in what ways? This is what the people have to say:
“African Americans wore the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on their backs before his vision was even a thought. We fought the wars of others as well as the war for freedom, justice, and equality for all. From the Negro spirituals that were a calling card to liberty, all the way to Public Enemy’s song, “Fight The Power,” our very presence speaks volumes to this nation. Being Black affects everything; from fads to trends, laws, all the way up to how we perceive beauty. The Black woman’s body and facial features have been replicated, and the fetishization of our men is consistent despite the prejudice against them. From the dances that have been created, to even the hairstyles that were once shunned such as braids, dreads, and weaves, they are now treated as a convenient trend. Also, African Americans are behind some of the most significant inventions and ideas. It is essential to note inventors and visionaries like Daniel Hale Williams, Lisa Gelobter, Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr., Garret Morgan, Mary and Mildred Davidson, to name a few. To be Black is to be the very essence that holds this nation together. That very essence, being strength, love, perseverance, pain, hope, and the dream, continues to sustain not just us, but all people. How has Black culture shaped America? We are America’s greatest sin. We are the blood that will never be washed away but is continuously recycled to keep America’s heart beating. Black people have created America’s culture because we are the consumers that drive America’s markets. African Americans shape American culture by continually reinventing itself and progressing with each generation. Black culture is American culture.” – Destiny Long
“Where do you want me to start? We do so much and have contributed in so many ways. Music, alone, is something we’ve been consistently and intimately involved in, such as Jazz which is arguably the first American music style, as well as Blues, R&B, Rap, Hip-hop, and even areas of Country. We have contributed to sports culture immensely, with the NBA being at least eighty percent African American and the NFL being sixty percent. We’ve contributed to billions upon billions of ad revenue for said sports games as well as their ticket sales. We’ve heavily contributed to language because our phrases get picked up and popularized such as ‘lit’ or ‘on fleek’, ‘shade’, ‘tea’, and ‘sis.’ Those are terms that are associated with us that have become mainstream. So I think the contributions to American culture on behalf of African Americans is frankly incalculable.” – Terrance Turner
“So for me, I’ve noticed mainly in the music industry, America in general likes to borrow from other cultures immensely. They take from us as African Americans, yet at the same time many African American artists take from other cultures, an example being Drake who has continuously come under fire for acting Jamaican or Caribbean in his music as well as the way he talks in interviews. But regardless, our culture is continuously being borrowed from. If you look at many White women now, they dress how Black women dressed in the 2000s, the only difference is that Black women were called ‘ratchet’ or ‘hood rats’ for the same thing. Long nails and our naturally big lips are things that people thought were ‘hood’ fashion, and now you see it getting popular.” – Megan Burnett-Morale
“Honestly, we’ve been contributing a lot lately in terms of health. An example being Jaden Smith who is slowly but surely helping Flint’s water problems. Some of our biggest contributions to America was through the music genres we created and popularized such as Rock and Roll, Country and The Blues. I think we have done a great job so far, but we certainly have a lot of work to do to claim back the culture we created for ourselves.” – Jaylen Brooks
We as African Americans have contributed much to America. From the ease of lifestyle with inventions such as the clothes dryer, invented by George T. Sampson, the dustpan invented by Lloyd Ray, and the electric lamp by Lewis Latimer. Aside from practical uses, we have a particularly captivating cinema presence, of which is one of America’s entertainment largest exports as a country, which only continues to grow as more and more African American men and women step in to lead acting roles as well as directing roles. Our contributions to music is unparalleled with artists such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Beyonce, Prince and many, many more who have contributed, and will continue to contribute to music, both dead or alive. Overall, it is absolutely no stretch of the imagination that Black culture is American culture, and vice versa.
This was Lens of The People, a column dedicated to giving the Houston community a voice and a platform. Stay on the lookout for more, all made possible by The Forward Times!