The Negotiation of Cultural Identity: Perceptions of European Americans and African Americans

The Negotiation of Cultural Identity: Perceptions of European Americans and African Americans

The Negotiation of Cultural Identity: Perceptions of European Americans and African Americans

The Negotiation of Cultural Identity: Perceptions of European Americans and African Americans

Synopsis

Cultural identities are negotiated within the interaction of individuals and groups but the exchange is often more deleterious for marginalized groups than it is for whites. This book offers a new conceptual approach to defining the cultural self in order to gain insight into the process and outcome of intercultural interaction.

Excerpt

Ronald Jackson has taken us to the depths of ourselves and has shown us how we consciously or unconsciously approach the negotiation of cultural spaces, whether interrogated or uninterrogated. What is at stake in the push toward postmodern onticity is the proper positioning of all the social and cultural identities that we possess, as either "black" or "white" interactants in an increasingly multicultural milieu. the danger is not that we will lose our identities but the possibility that our identities have already been lost in some places and spaces where we've been. Consequently, we are ourselves searching throughout this intricate web of antagonistic and oppositional identities in order to find what we have lost. How else can we explain the 1994 cover of Time Magazine darkening the face of O.J. Simpson in order to portray him as a brutal bogeyman? At that time, Mr. Simpson had been found innocent of the crime of murder; what is the message about the identity of a famous hero who is now reduced to a brute? If you blacken him, do you immediately throw away the heroic quality? and what does one do with a coal-black man? That is, how do you blacken him more? in so doing, are you suggesting that something of the real human is destroyed by blackening?

In 1865, when Africans were finally freed -- physically that is -- there was no fitting therapy for the four and a half million people who were now out on the streets and roads of the American South. I mean, no one came to the African people saying that after 250 years of enslavement there needed to be a period of reshaping identities, questioning of spaces (internal and external), accentuating the core, and of keeping pace with the social and political developments that were going on in the rest of the country. After all, whites had already reached California and the Forty-Niners were deep into the pits of the gold mines or panning it along the Russian, American, and other canals and rivers in the Sutter Mill region. Africans were not to see the economic benefit of obtaining mines, ranches, and grazing lands for years to come. in fact, the 250 years of grievous deprivation had come to represent a deficit in the bank account of justice; Martin Luther King, Jr., would take up this metaphor during the March on Washington.

This book, by a brilliant author, is a work of precision and insight. What . . .

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