Culturehas a profound influence on the mental and physical well-being ofevery individual in our communities. Cultural background can bedefined as our ethnicity, but there are various factors such asreligion, family dynamics, social class, racism, or gender thataffect it. The above factors profoundly determine the manner in whichmembers of a given family preserve the social beliefs and relate totheir cultural heritage. From a religious perspective, there is thenecessity of putting our dominant values in question and exploringthe intricacies of the identity of our culture when developing asocial capability. All of us have had encounters of varioustraditions that differ from society to society. There is a clearassociation between our traditions and the meals we take each day,our response to health conditions and relation to members of similarcultural ties. Beliefs are inherited from one generation to theother, and we acquire them through daily experiences.
AfricanAmerican is one of the dominant ethnic groups in the United States.Most of the people in African heritage families originate fromvarious countries thus they may show diversity in religious beliefs,cultural practices, acculturation, socioeconomic status, skin colorand in the application of discrimination coping strategies. In a way,they have made cultural contributions to United States culture thatcould be part or distinct from the culture in America. The blackAmericans culture has its root in the African-American historicalexperiences. The establishment of their identity took place duringthe slavery period, resulting in a dynamic culture. Their family tiescan be traced back to Africa where most of the communities had commonbeliefs and rituals compulsory for all individuals.
Therehas been a modification or simulation of African- American habits andpractices which have led to some of them becoming extinct. In thepast, their ties were rolled around food. Cooking, religiousceremonies, raising food and feasting are some of the practices inwhich the society is based (Bowen, 2012). Soul food is a popular termfor the community cooking. Some types of foods such as collard greensare rich in nutrients. Other examples of the nutritious diet includeleafy green, yellow vegetables, rice potatoes, beans, and legumes.However, other kinds of foods incorporated in the diet have lowlevels of fiber, potassium, calcium and high-fat contents. The mostcommon methods of food preparations for African-American isbarbecuing, frying, and baking cakes and pies. They also serve theirmeals with gravies and sauces. With the increasing rates ofdiabetes, obesity, heartsease and hypertension some of the peoplehave become victims and paid highly for any unhealthy eating habits(Jones, 2014).
Whenit comes to low-income family, they usually do not have many optionsthus they eat foods available at minimum costs. Seafood, lean meat,vegetables and fresh fruits are not in the low-cost category. Thedominant religion in African-American is Protestant, and they do haverestrictions to their diet. However, there is a large population thatobserves some dietary limitations such as Seventh – day Adventist,Jehovah Witness, and Muslim.
Alot of emphases should be put on the methods of food preparation,modification of sugar, sodium, and fat available in traditionalfoods. Herbs may also be substituted with high sodium seasoning, eatmore vegetables and less meat, skin, and fat could also be removedfrom the flesh. Even with the family traditions, it’s important tocreate awareness on the importance of cutting calories, exercise andhave a healthy nutrition diet.
Mostof the African Americans may have a religious perspective grounded intheir cultural history which may highlight a holistic health approach(Carillo, Green, Betancourt, 2014). Religion plays a significant rolein giving the emotional support and being obedient to the religiousbeliefs is known to correlate with improved health outcomes. It isevident that the medical viewpoint and religious perspective tend todiffer and at some point, they could be in conflict. Many of thesepeople have a strong sense of spirituality, and the Spiritualismtends to be tangled with various aspects of their life with healthbeing one of them. Traditionally, the folks had a particular beliefconcerning health and illness. They put their focus in herbalremedies, magical features of sickness that invoke mysticalcomponents. In this community, there can be the identification ofvarious distinctive groups of churches such Methodist, Pentecostal,or messianic that stress on magical contact with the world of spiritsfor purposes of physical improvement and spiritual states. Religionis a prominent element of African-American history particularly inillness as it helps in establishing health care attitudes andpractices. We cannot ignore the presence of faith healer who acts asconsultants to individuals or groups as an alternative measure ofmainstream health care. The Muslims in this community describe a gooddoctor as one who addresses matters of spirituality, faith, andbiological needs. They expect these issues to be encompassed in thetreatment and failure of acknowledgment by technician leads tomistrust and non-compliance in medical routine (Gamble, 2015).
Naturalremedies are also common in these people mostly the elderly. Datingto the time of slavery, visiting a herbalist for treatment is part ofAfrican-American cultural practices (Snow, 2013). It is almostimpossible to separate the utilization of African herbal medicinesfrom African religions. Before the end of their captivity, the homeherbal remedy was a common practice as they were denied standardmedical treatments.
Theneeds to belong, affiliate and be part of relationships with otherindividuals are aspects common in all persons (Daniel, 2012).Relations are formed for purposes of fun encounters, goal meeting andsharing intimacies thus they are paramount for survival. The way werelate to members of our society tells more about who we are forinstance being compassionate with the hungry.
Fromthe origins of Africa, interpersonal relationships are core values.Other words that can be put in place of this value includecommunalism and collective orientation. This relationship entailssympathy towards the emotions of other people. The communal structureof African-American society includes universal values that reveal theimportance of a community. They include mutual aid, interdependence,reciprocal obligation, social harmony, and solidarity. Communalisticorientation is prevalent among contemporary African Americans. Thisis evident in the extended families and contribution to churchpractices and other worship places. Family relationships areconsidered important as they are known to shape a child. They affectconceptualization of who we are and our aspirations. African Americanadolescents form friendships in cliques which are small knit groupsof 3 to 10 peers who belong to the same age, gender and race.
Marriageis still highly desirable among the members just like in other ethnicgroups. With the high deterioration in marriage amongAfrican-American, one question in concern is if cohabitation has ledto this situation, but it has already been proven otherwise. Thereexist factors that determine mate selection such as good financialprospects, similar religions, education, and political backgrounds.Another characteristic is personality variables such as soundcharacter, mutual attraction, emotional constancy, and desire toestablish a home. Some of the physical features include good health,appearance, and sex. According to research, African Americanpossesses more interracial friends compared to whites. Even withincreasing interracial marriages, some people still consider themunfavorable. Close relationships are those that include romanticpartners, close friendships, and family members. The way in whichwomen relate to each other in the community is said to be moreintimate compared to men associations. A child in African-Americanfamily system can be casually adopted by grandparents or members ofan extended family who are in a better position in economic statusthan the birth parents. The young adults depend on their parents forcollege school fees.
Itessential that we incorporate cultural acknowledgment in the theoriesand treatment so as to ensure that clients dominant in culture do notfeel out of place and dissatisfied. Culture is part of our familyunits despite our ethnicity, and we should ensure that the practicesare never extinct. However, if some cultural practices can result inhealth problems, they are better off minimized or wiped out. Forinstance, if we consider a practice like female genital mutilation, acommon practice in the African community, despite being part ofculture, it still brings so many defects in women thus wiping it offis the best option.
Bowen,A. (2012) African American food ways: Exploration of history andculture.
Carillo,J., E. Green, A., R., Betancourt, J. R.(2014). Cross-cultural primarycare: a patient-based approach. AnnInternMed.130:829
Daniel,G., R. (2012). Black and white identity in the new millennium. Themultiracial experience: Racial Borders as the New Frontier Pp. 121–39
Gamble,V., N.( 2015). Under the shadow of Tuskegee: African Americans andhealth care. Am J Public Health. 87:1773–1778.
Jones,P. (2014). The Blackheath Library Guide to Heart Disease andHypertension. New York: Henry Holt
Snow,L., F. (2013). Traditional health beliefs and practices amonglower-class black Americans. Western Med J. 139:820–828.