Cultural Portrayals of African Americans: Creating an Ethnic/Racial Identity

By Janis Faye Hutchinson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
African-American Cultural Nationalisms

Yvonne V. Jones

Within the past decade African Americans in the United States have undergone a cultural revitalization that may be seen as a continuation of the black power/black pride movement that emerged during the 1960s civil rights era. Accompanying the judicial and legislative enactments illuminated by historians such as Branch ( 1988), Garrow ( 1988), and Carson ( 1981) was the popularization of African culture articulated in various arenas of a diverse African- American community: the revitalization movement of black Muslims, a student-driven movement of black power advocates ( Hamilton and Carmichael 1967), a black separatist movement advocating violence as a means of achieving racial equality ( Brown 1993), and a cultural movement, which in the 1960s emerged out of scholarly discourse ( Karenga 1993). These diverse movements, each with its distinct ideologies, was accompanied by the acceptance of African influence on the cultural traditions of African Americans, and an embracing of the theories of Herskovits and the repudiation of Franklin Frazier's cultural conservatism ( Cole 1985). This chapter examines African-American cultural nationalism as a cultural phenomenon and as a creative, productive practice in a midsize metropolitan city of the Upper South, Louisville, Kentucky. The chapter is divided into three parts. The first part examines the juxtapositioning of race, space, and place in the discourse constructed by the visual and print media of Louisville and replicated and reinterpreted in the discourse embedded in public policy with respect to the city's black community. The second part focuses on two aspects of African-American social organization, Kwanzaa celebrations and the local chapter of a scholarly voluntary association in which racial/cultural identity has assumed a distinct Diaspora posture (African victim of European exploitation). Finally, the relationship between African-American cultural production and a distinct pattern of entrepreneurship is analyzed.

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