Almost all ethnicities preserve culture, heritage and or tradition that they cherish and pass down to the next generation. Heritage and tradition can be expressed in any form the ethnicity chooses to use Some cultures use food as a way to express. For instance, in my Arabian culture, we like to cook mostly with grains. A popular grain dish is couscous. It consists of grains made from semolina. Just as food is a big part of culture and heritage, it is not limited solely to food.
Most cultures use objects to symbolize what their culture represents. In African American culture, the arts, literature, agricultural skills, food, music, language, and clothing styles have been contributed and passed down to the descendants by the first generation African Americans that came to America. For many years language has been passed down and has evolved in the form known to Americans today as Ebonies. Music is another form of culture which has continued to exist through what society knows as rap, hip hop, and rhythm & blues.
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Another big part of African American culture is food. The cultivation and use of many agricultural products In the United States such as yams, aunts, rice, okra, sorghum, grits, watermelon, Indigo dyes, and cotton, which can be traced to African influences. African American foods reflect creative responses to racial and economic oppression. Under slavery, African Americans were not allowed to eat better cuts of meat, and after Emancipation many often were too poor to afford the better cuts.
Soul food, a hearty cuisine commonly associated with African Americans in the South, but also common among blacks nationwide, makes creative use of Inexpensive products procured through farming and subsistence hunting and gushing. Pig Intestines are boiled and sometimes battered and fried to make “chitterlings. ” or “chitin’s”_ Many of these food traditions are especially predominant in many parts of the rural South. One main problem with heritage is that it can be easily forgotten or misused.
In Alice Walker’s short story, “Everyday use” the importance of heritage is depicted through Mama, who believes that heritage should be handed down and implemented in their lives, Maggie who believes that it should be implemented as well, and Dee who believes that heritage should be showcased eke art. Mama Is the mother of two dissimilar daughters, Dee and Maggie. Walker from the get go, portrays Mama sticking to her cultural roots by the way the narrator describes Mama. “In Real life I am a large, big-boned woman with rough man- working hands. (103) and from this quote, one can see Mama as a hard worker. This shows the link between her and the first generation African Americans that were put into slave labor. By Walker using the words “man-working hands” can be linked to hands of the slave workers In the late seventeen hundreds and early eighteen hundreds. When working with wooden scythe, It was very common for calluses to develop on a workers hand. Being that Mama is portrayed to being a hands on worker, she stays true to her heritage when Walker describes Mama with those “man- working hands”.
Another way Mama is seen incorporating her heritage into her daily life is through work ethics. In the first paragraph of “Everyday Use” Mama is outdoors, sweeping clean her yard, which also served as the narrator mentions, an extended loving room. It Is clearly shown that Mama still applies her African inserted into the topic. When relating to African heritage, hunting has been a big art of ancient African heritage, even dating back to the tribal days. The narrator does a great Job in connecting the ancient African heritage, to the present day with Mama.
The narrator draws the link when she describes Mama being able to, “l can eat pork liver cooked over the open fire in minutes after it comes steaming from the hog. One winter I knocked a bull calf straight in the brain between the eyes with a sledge hammer and had the meat hung up to chill before nightfall. ” (103). The narrator is able to draw a clear image of Mama going back into her heritage. Mama sakes a clear belief on what heritage is and means, when both Dee and Maggie, the daughters, want to keep the quilts.
Mama promises Maggie that she can have the quilts when she gets married to John Thomas. Maggie wants to be able to use the quilts, Just like Mama believes. Mama makes the clear when she says, “l reckon she would. God knows I been shaving’s enough with nobody using them” (108) Mama believes that heritage should be used and appreciated. Walker’s character, Mama, seems to have a strong role in “Everyday Use”. Through out the short story, she is shown to represent African heritage itself.
One can even argue that Mama is the mother land of her family’s heritage. Mama holds true to her African heritage. She works like the Africans worked during slave labor and she’s able to hunt her food and cook it. Along with Mama’s hold on heritage, Maggie also holds true to her African heritage. Maggie shares the same beliefs as Mama does through out “Everyday Use”. A characteristic that Africans expressed during the late eighteen hundreds is humbleness. As history allows us to remember, slaves were not able to talk back to their owners.
Maggie shows the same characteristic a few times in Walker’s short Tory. The narrator first introduces this characteristic when Maggie is being described as to being, “perhaps a dog run over by some careless rich peritonitis is the way my Maggie walks. She has always been like this, chin down on chest, eyes on ground feet in shuffles” (104). The way the narrator presents the character, one can already see that she is a humble child. Maggie shows even more similarity later on in the short story when both Maggie and Dee want to keep the quilt.
Maggie wants to keep the quilts, but seeing that her sister wants them more, she goes back to her mumble roots when she tells Mama, “She [Dee] can have them, Mama. I can Member Grandma Dee without the quilts” (108) Walker shows that Maggie fully understands her heritage. Maggie is able remember her heritage without any symbols or objects; this shows that Maggie and Mama are both able to remember and preserve the heritage either with or without any objects. With Mama and Maggie both sharing the same beliefs on heritage, Dee shows that have a different view on what heritage is and how it should be expressed.
Dee is very different then both Maggie and Mama when it comes to heritage. Unlike Mama, who wears simple clothing like overalls, Dee is first introduced wearing a flashy yellow dress with big sunglasses that “hid everything above the tip of her nose and her chin” (109). Dee believes that her heritage should be used to be an incentive towards her upcoming success. The narrator shows Dee doing this when she gets home, “Out she peeks next with a Polishers never takes the picture edge of the yard she snaps it and me [Mama] and Maggie and the house. (104) Dee is trying to use her heritage, to show how her background is, and her upbringing was cough when living in the condition she had to grow up in. Believing that Dee should do more to express her heritage; she decides to changer her name to Hangers Leaning Joanne. When asked why she did this by Mama, Dee replies with, “l couldn’t bear it any longer, being named after the people that oppress me. “(106). Thinking that this will bring her closer towards her heritage, she forgets the name Dee has been part of her family, being able to date it back to their great grandmother.
The major difference between the appreciations of heritage arises hen both Maggie and Dee want the quilts. When Dee asked to have the old quilts, Mama offered her to take the others. Dee replies with, “No, I don’t want those. They are stitched around the borders by machine. ” (108) thinking that the machine stitch will not make the quilts look as authentic as would the hand stitched ones. Dee believes that heritage should be showcased as if they are art work. Dee does not seem to understand that heritage should be used and be passed down to the next generation, like Maggie and Mama do. The two opposite views between Mama and
Maggie, and Dee, on heritage shows that it is plausible that both are expressing heritage, rather the quilts are being used or hung, both are accepting and expressing their heritage. Mama and Maggie hold on to the heritage and live it almost like their ancestors did. Dee holds on to heritage, but wants to convey her heritage in a way that people of her kind and other ethnicities can admire and see how her heritage has evolved. Rather you use objects that signify your heritage, or express is as art, you still stay true to root of tradition, tradition which means “to hand down” or “to hand over. ”