African American Heritage Paper

Topics: African American, Race and Ethnicity, African American Vernacular English Pages: 9 (1900 words) Published: April 4, 2015

A Nursing Method to African American Heritage

This paper explores the African American heritage and also identifies the significance of nurses being culturally aware, sensitive and competent when caring for people of African American heritage. Although these terms mentioned above are used interchangeably, they have different meanings. Cultural awareness is appreciating the external or material part of the culture, such as the music, arts, and physical characteristics, and dress. Cultural sensitivity is the personal attitudes toward the culture, such as not saying things that is offensive to someone from a different ethnic or cultural background (Purnell, 2013, p. 4). Cultural competence is putting it all together; by using your knowledge to provide culturally congruent care and to be able to work effectively with people in cross-cultural situations. African Americans are the second largest ethnocultural groups in the United States; however, it is one of the most misunderstood cultures. This culture is so unique because they have mixed their cultures from their different homes of origin in Africa, along with American culture. This paper overviews the history, communications, family roles, workforce issues, biocultural ecology, high-risk behaviors, pregnancy and childbearing practices, spirituality, health care practices, nutrition, and death rituals in the African American culture. It is important that nurses see themselves as becoming culturally competent when caring for African Americans, and this involves incorporating cultural desire, cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill, and cultural encounter with the people of African American heritage (Campinha-Bacote, 2009).

One of the largest minority groups in the United States, African Americans culture includes the various cultural traditions of different African ethnic groups. “Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census (2001) reveals that there are approximately 34,333,000 African Americans residing in the United States, representing 12.1% of the total population” (Campinha-Bacote, 2009). They were forcibly imported into the United States as slaves from 1619 to 1860 (Purnell, 2013, p. 21). During slavery, they incorporated their culture from their homes of origin, and as a result, their culture included several cultural traditions of African ethnic groups. Many African Americans live in poverty due to discrimination and lack of proper education. Most families of African American heritage value education, but they still struggle to have equal representation in the workplace, and are more likely to work in a hazardous environment, resulting in job related diseases and illness. Due to the lower-level positions and the difficulty in achieving higher opportunities in the workplace, some African Americans continue to feel discouraged. Nurses need to address discrimination and also issues that create ethnic or racial tension in the workplace. English is the language spoken by African Americans, however, people of lower socio economical status communicate in an informal language known as African American English (AAE) (Purnell, 2013, p. 22). According to Campinha-Bacote (2009), the major problem that AAE speakers face is prejudice. Most people believe that AAE is inferior to Standard American English. As a result, African Americans who speak AAE are sometimes misinterpreted as being uneducated. Nurses should be aware not to stereotype African Americans as only speaking AAE, and also not to stereotype them as uneducated based on the way they communicate. African Americans are expressive when communicating and often use body languages to convey their feelings. Their expressive language and body movement can be misconstrued as anger or provocation. Nurses need to be familiar with these characteristics and not misinterpret them. As a nurse, when...
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