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Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

The African American social identity has fascinated me considerably since childhood.  I am perplexed at how the African Americans I have interacted with since I was a child who became conscious of their social environment define themselves through the lens of Caucasian individuals. As a child, I played with African American children who struggled to display their mannerisms in social contexts, as would the Caucasian children, yet this was not their culture. I wondered how my playmates from the Black community liked White-themed snacks, such as pizza, bread, and fries, yet these meals were not African. My playmates also wore their hair in similar styles as Caucasian people and only purchased clothes from stores predominantly shopped by Caucasian people to blend in with society. I learned from a young age that African Americans did not have any authentic identity; it was determined by American culture, which has a majority of Caucasian individuals. (Crapo, 2013). This aspect was reinforced by every film I watched and every book I read; if African Americans attempted to accentuate their identity in society, they would be criticized heavily because society does not approve of their actions.

As an adult, I have learned that African Americans are not as “fake” as I observed and read in my childhood. They have their own culture, from music, like jazz, and different types of food and fashion, among other cultural aspects. I also learned that African Americans are excellent authors who passionately articulate their ideas. However, society does not accept this passion, wanting them to conform to its ways and not seek out their own identity. I learned that African American children liked to sing their folksongs when playing and that their parents braided their hair every once in a while to appreciate their culture. The stories I read and created as an adult of the African American community prove that they are authentic people, a perspective that is different from what I learned as a child (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, 2009). Since I became an adult, I have strived not to have a single story about any social group. Lastly, I regularly encourage everyone I engage with to interact with the people they have a single story about to help them broaden their understanding of these communities.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (2009, July). The Danger of a Single Story [Video]. TED Talks.

Crapo, R. H. (2013). Cultural Anthropology. ‎ Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


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Define Cultural Anthropology

Begin by defining cultural anthropology as the study of human cultures, behaviors, beliefs, and social structures across different societies and time periods.

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Introduction to Cultural Anthropology

Highlight its interdisciplinary nature, drawing from fields like sociology, psychology, and history.

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