• Khalil Muhammed

Exhausted from Cultural Assimilation

In my culture, we may respectfully refer to the older and wiser Black folks as "old heads." I'm confused about what's right or wrong to say, but I say it with mad respect. This past weekend, I went to a Black barbeque. Ya'll know what I'm talkin' bout. Uncle Leo on the que' with the black socks and sandals, a spades table where Aunt Betty and Uncle Sherm talking mucho sh--, the music playing that makes you reminisce on the BBQs past. Everyone is enjoying themselves being themselves in a comfortable environment. Then the weekend ends, and you have to go back to work talk the way they talk, act the way they act, and that is tiring. Even as I write this, I'm being corrected on how I should say as if that is the only correct way. No, it is the Euro way. I understand standards but damn. As a professional culture, we have our standards, and it's time we live by those.

Cultural assimilation is the process in which a minority group or culture comes to resemble a society's majority group or assumes another group's values, behaviors, and beliefs, whether fully or partially. I've grown tired of having to adopt those values. It's tiresome to watch Black folks on the news have to approach news as Euro, but they can do our dances and sing our songs on television news, and that's okay. When we do it, it's unprofessional. They use our music in commercials and imitate us on social media; yet, we must act like them when we enter the workplace.

I grew up in the suburbs but still knew my place as a Black person. If our culture is so powerful, we should embrace and set the standard and not allow it to be dictated to us. Black kids growing up now will not understand the power of the culture, and the powerful history in creation that comes with it. They will not understand how we helped shape this country.

Just starting out, I have gained great respect for the "old heads" that have come before me. Why? Because they stripped their souls to go to work each day and ignore their culture or play at being White just to get by knowing those around them view them a certain way. Now is the time to reclaim our culture. Create Black arts-driven literary agencies, political parties, legal services, agencies, education, and so forth. Innovation is developing a new way of doing things. We must take our power back and refocus our efforts on being Black and proud.

I know it seems easier said than done, but it's as simple as acknowledging who you are and incorporating Y.O.U into the work. Think about some of the best jobs you've had. They were where you could be you. Some of the best Black writers, artists, performers, athletes, scientists, doctors, etc., chose not to conform and tell their stories. We can't allow Democrats or Republicans to tell our stories. With all of these Black professionals out here, I'm unsure why we can't come together and build. Oh, I forgot. We too busy to assimilating into this country but still haven't achieved equity. Trying to act like them hasn't been working for us. But, being the best us can enhance our lives. Regaining our identity is the first step. It's not that I dislike or even hate the majority group. But that ain't us and we must understand that our schools, colleges, and more just can't operate the way they do. It is all so disappointing and I'm not even over 30 yet.

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