The African American Experience is majorly marred and it’s often explained with a dark past of violence, stigma and mistreatment. When I began this research I was hoping to get a different view of the African American Experience, at least one positive story that would give hope and a future that this community can look up to. My research aimed at getting the perspective of an older man who has seen it all and how it has shaped him. The results showed that there is hope after all the dark past, which it all comes down to the decision of one on their own to change the story and make a new one. The conclusion is that an ideal African American man can make a decision to be different and make something out of his life, so that it is not the usual cliché of dark life always.
The history of African Americans has been dark often marked with racial discrimination, slavery, civil rights movement and has often been influenced by religion, family, community, politics, economic patterns and resistance movements. (STAFF, TNJ) In this class we have learnt about the culture of the African American community including their speech, communication and various forms of artistic expressions. We also explored the reasons why children in this community may grow up to be influenced by their environment which would explain why they choose the paths that they do.
For most of their history they have been denied education and their literacy levels stalled because society denied them the opportunity to study like the rest of the American white children. (STAFF, TNJ) The legal systems also neglected them and most court cases that sought to give them a chance were thrown out. Even in the job sector equal chances were denied and blacks often had to endure longer working hours, poor working conditions and poor pay for the same work or more than the white man. Even with the various advancements, this discrimination goes on till date.
There was only one participant, a male of African American origin, 60 years of age and with a family of his own with three children and wife.
I used an interview to get his perspective on how his life has been shaped over time and by experience.
I met with the participant at his home that is how welcoming and open he was. The interview went on for a few hours because he is a man of many words and he was more than glad to share with me the story of his life.
Experience and life
Born and raised in Tennessee State Mr. Andy has seen it all. Born at a time when racial discrimination was at its peak and it was so common that when he was younger he thought that he deserved it because of how dark his skin tone was compared to the pale ones he had seen for the bosses that employed his parents. His parents were however made of different mettle and taught him from a young age that there was nothing that a small black child could not achieve that a white child could. His parents struggled to see him through school but they never gave up, they saved every penny to give him an education. He attended an all-black school and had to deal with shortages or teachers and learning materials and a syllabus so short and not inclusive but he learnt it all and to make up for what he couldn’t find he found ways to make friendships with white rich kids that did not value books as much and read each book he could borrow.
He became so good he was called to college a privilege for very few African Americans. In college he dealt with discrimination by questioning and attempted to solve what he could and what he couldn’t, he made up by being numb. In college he met and married a bright girl with the same values as he and raised a family.
When I asked him about his relationship with his father, he reflects and answers that it was not that close. A father figure in his time was meant to be absent or remain away for most of the time or mete serious punishment something he has made up to his two children by being their mentor and he is so proud when they call him their role model.
His parent’s loves for education made him excel educationally, blocking out negativity from racists made him excel and built a successful business. His not so close relationship with his father made him a better father to his sons so that they would have even better grounding than he had.
A lot of mistakes and injustice has been done in the history of black Americans and it continues even in this modern day but all this can change by the determination of one man at a time. Andy wrote a different story for his life and continues to do the same for his children History is full of stories of the determination of men who stood to make a difference. Men like Martin Luther King Junior.
STAFF, TNJ. “How Black History Has Shaped The African American Experience | The Network Journal.” The Network Journal, 2010, http://www.tnj.com/how-black-history-has-shaped-african-american-experience/.