I am an African American by culture and ethnicity. Acquisition of the African American culture results from the ethnicities of my parents. I am a daughter of black immigrants - my father emigrated from Haiti whereas my mother emigrated from England. I was born in the United States.
The backgrounds of my parents have had a significant impact on the way I perceive my culture. This is because I have learned and acquired various aspects of black culture from the daily experiences I have had with them. It is an inheritance that continues to shape me in many ways in the context of the broader American society.
I speak English as my first language. Although my parents emigrated from different regions of the world, both speak English as their first and only language. Since it is the language that is used in daily in our home setting and also in public places in the United States, I have always taken much pride in English as my language of verbal expression with fellow Americans. In other words, the English language is an integral part of my culture as it is the only avenue through which I exchange information with other Americans. I am not proficient in any other language.
Regarding religion, I profess the Christian faith which is the similar faith that is practiced by my parents. Christianity has been an integral part of my life and that of the parents. Some of the most important values and principles that I hold dearly originate from the Christian faith although a majority of these values were passed onto me from my parents through instruction and personal experiences with them while growing up. That is to say, these values were emphasized in the church, and my parents ensured they had been acquired and practiced in their children's daily social interactions.
Values I have acquired through family and church experience include being kind to people, strong work ethic, self-discipline, and integrity. Being kind to people is a virtue that has been inculcated in me through family experience. Both my father and mother emphasize the need to be kind to people even when they have not shown the same to you. I have come to learn that not only does kindness help one to know more about themselves but also brings some form of satisfaction to one's soul. Being kind to people makes them feel valued in the face of difficulties. Although it is a family value and is always emphasized by the church as a virtue, I came to experience the real value of kindness while volunteering in community work, an exercise that involved helping low-income residents in the community. It felt great to receive appreciation from people because of the difference I had made in their lives during community work. Within the family, my father emphasizes on kindness because of the role kind people played in making him settler faster and easier in the United States when he emigrated from Haiti-people he had known for a short time helped him settle and start a new life in a new country without demanding for compensation.
Strong work ethic and self-discipline are important values that my family and I cherish. I have come to believe that for one to achieve success in whatever they want to accomplish in life, it is critical to embrace strong work ethic and maintain self-discipline. These values have enabled me to take responsibility for all the actions I have undertaken. I had no idea about the significance of these values until the time after completing my volunteering exercise as mentioned in the preceding paragraph. After months of active participation, it was time for me to leave the organization when the supervisor called me into his office to express his appreciation for the commitment I had demonstrated throughout the period in question to work. He urged me to strive and protect my work ethnic wherever I would work later in life. Although I knew that I always maintained self-discipline, I felt encouraged by the kind words of the supervisor about my character as a worker. From the encounter, I learned that self-discipline and strong work ethic could motivate others and also improve relationships in the workplace. These values form an important part of my life.
Many people consider integrity to be a virtue one must have to succeed in their career aspirations. Through church teachings, the faithful are urged to be trustworthy and honest in their relationships with other fellow citizens in their daily interactions in our society. Having grown out of the same church system, my parents ensured that their children grew up with a character that guards the truth. I always strive to uphold the truth at all times. However, I do not have an obligation to embrace all the advice of the parents. This is because I believe that embracing integrity at all times is the right thing to do.
Teaching children what is important and valuable in the family is another valuable aspect of our culture. I have been taught by my parents over the years that a good relationship with others needs to precede the quest for material acquisitions. Personally, I have a close relationship with some members of the extended family. I greatly enjoy sharing life experiences with them. I came to learn from my parents that the trait of collectivism, which is characteristic of black families in the United States which goes back to centuries. I have also learned that it was a tendency for black families to stick together at the time of extreme racial segregation and economic marginalization. This culture greatly helped African Americans to persevere in the face of adversity. And it is being perpetuated by people like us.
As a young woman, sometimes I feel that a lot needs to be done in so far as my career is concerned. I have learned that women are underrepresented in many fields in our society. For this reason, I aspire to be part of the millions of women across the country championing for more recognition of women's achievement throughout our history. Maya Angelou's achievement gives me considerable inspiration to pursue my career to the furthest possible.
Although I have never been discriminated against based on my race, the narrations of my parents about their experiences in America and reports from the media have made me more conscious about the problem of racism in the US. It is an issue that is rarely felt in our time but its legacy remains to be part and parcel of the black families. However, I have been discriminated against based on my gender. This incident happened after graduating from high school. It was a remark made by classmates that women tend to choose particular fields of study, a trend that has impeded them from achieving their full potential. These remarks hurt but did not discourage me as a woman. Rather, the remarks intensified the zeal to achieve as a woman.
In conclusion, my family and the church have shaped my life in varied ways. Personal values such as strong work ethic, integrity, self-discipline, kindness, and strong family ties trace their origins to my family and the church. Life experience has also taught me to be more conscious of the problem of racial prejudice and also discrimination against women. However, factors such as schooling with members of other races and general social interactions have also influenced my character, albeit subconsciously. Put simply, my personality has been shaped by the church, my family and the universal American values.
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