The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs

Paper Info
Page count 6
Word count 987
Read time 4 min
Topic Health
Type Essay
Language 🇺🇸 US

Introduction: A brief History

African Americans generally refer to the Africans that settled in America. It also refers to the black Africans that are born within America (Bennett 24). By 2000, African that were born in America had made up to 30% of all blacks in NY City. Notable persons from this group include current US President, Mr. Obama and Mr. Powell. Some African Americans prefer to be addressed using their country of origins e.g. Senegalese-American. Their initial settlement was as a result of forced immigration to offer cheap labor in America.

Their Values

  • Strong family ties and bonds
  • Strong religious beliefs
  • Respects the elderly and hierarchy
  • Male dominancy
  • Proud of their origin
  • Strong orientation to work
  • Takes good care of their own (Tishkoff et al. 1036)
  • African Americans value their family ties, religious beliefs and their work.
  • The old are considered to be wise and as thus are given high respect in the society.
  • Males are seen to be leaders. They make almost all major decisions within the family and in the society as well.


  • Beliefs in black magic
  • Have strong regard for the community
  • Beliefs in hierarchies; That is why power is transferred from one member of the family to the other (Clark et al., 805)
  • Have strong regard for traditional power
  • The world view on African Americans is that these people beliefs in black magic. This could be attributed to the manner in which West African countries practice it in almost every part of their lives.
  • The community is believed to be a strong pillar among the African Americans.

Language and Communication

  • African American Vernacular English (AAVE) is considered as an academically legitimate dialect
  • Look at someone when talking and tend to look away while listening
  • Eye contact is prolonged when speaking and reduced when listening
  • Nodding of the head is also used to show that one is listening ( Tishkoff et al., 1037)
  • Body Space- African Americans tend to move in closer to each other while talking than the Whites
  • Gestures: African Americans employ more gestures than the Whites for emphasis.
  • Body language; An important element of communication among members of this group. Looking at someone (same as eye contact) while talking indicates honesty and emphasis on the topic discussed.
  • Touch is a common element in communication among friends in this group

Art and other Expressive Patterns

  • Materials used in art; jewelry, sculptures, textiles and mosaics
  • African American art was initially not recognized by Whites until the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Their music is anchored on the songs from their ethnic groups back in Africa, specifically those from West and sub-Saharan Africa (Spring 20)
  • The “Lift Ev’ry Voice” remains one of the most valued songs among members of this group
  • Jewelry is popular among the African American and is associated with rank or affiliation to a certain group. They are made from sisal, beads, Tiger’s eye stone and ebony wood.
  • Sculptures can be made from wood, ceramic or stone.
  • Textiles include; Kente Cloth, Chitenge and mud cloth
  • Lift Ev’ry Voice is the song that was written by James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson in 1900 scheduled to be performed during the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. It reminds African Americans of the struggles they went though to gain their freedom. In addition, it reminds them of three key pillars; ethnic solidarity, faith and hope.

Norms and Rules

Their norms and rules are based on their superstitions, e.g.;

  • A pregnant woman is not supposed to walk udder a ladder
  • One is not supposed to sweep the house during the night to avoid bad luck (Spring 21)
  • During the night, one should walk with a material that has strong odor to keep away wading ghosts

Lifestyle Characteristics

  • They are not as physically active as Whites
  • They are more prone to alcohol drunkenness and tobacco smoking than native Americans
  • On average, African Americans would walk themselves to work rather than driving
  • Their eating habits is not based on good healthy living (Raboteau 49)

Relationship Patterns

  • Marriage has long been considered an important element
  • The rate of divorce has not been as rampant as it is with the Whites
  • Intermarriages was not common, though it is now gaining momentum (Raboteau 56)
  • Middle class African Americans will opt to remain single more than the low class African Americans.

Intermarriages could be explained by the disparity between African American women and African American men. The number of women tends to be more than that of the men.

Level of education is also an important factor leading to intermarriages. Highly educated African Americans can marry a non African American than the less educated African American.

Common Rituals and Habits

  • The young have to show deep respect for the elderly.
  • The ancestors are part of their society. They are accorded deep respect as well.
  • They are religious people- Majority of African Americans are Christians with the favorite denomination being Catholic (Collins 89)

Degree of Assimilation

  • For many years, those of African origin were exploited and oppressed on basis of their skin.
  • They were not considered to be human beings and thus discriminated in almost every aspect.
  • After being accepted as legal Americans, they were made to establish their own political, economic and social institutions , thus a solid African American group (Collins 90).

Health Behaviours and Practices

  • Disadvantaged people not able to take healthy foods
  • Fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meat are more expensive than packaged foods to African Americans (Albert 49)
  • Majority of them consume fast foods regularly
  • They are more prone to lifestyle diseases such as obesity and chronic illnesses.


African Americans generally refer to the Africans that settled in America. They have strong family ties and religious beliefs. The world view them as having high regard for hierarchies and traditional power. Marriage is an important element among African Americans. Healthy foods such as fruits are expensive and as such inaccessible to many.

Works Cited

Bennett, Lerone. Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America. Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company Incorporated, 2003. Print.

Clark, Rodney et al. “Racism as a Stressor for African Americans: A Biopsychosocial Model.” American Psychologist 54.10 (1999): 805. Print.

Collins, Patricia Hill. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2004. Print.

Raboteau, Albert J. Canaan land: A Religious History of African Americans. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Spring, Joel. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality: A Brief History of the Education of Dominated Cultures in the United States. McGraw-Hill, Inc., 2012. Print.

Tishkoff, Sarah A., et al. “The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans.” Science 324.5930 (2009): 1035-1037. Print.

Cite this paper


EssaysInCollege. (2022, June 6). The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs. Retrieved from


EssaysInCollege. (2022, June 6). The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs.

Work Cited

"The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs." EssaysInCollege, 6 June 2022,


EssaysInCollege. (2022) 'The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs'. 6 June.


EssaysInCollege. 2022. "The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs." June 6, 2022.

1. EssaysInCollege. "The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs." June 6, 2022.


EssaysInCollege. "The African American Heritage and Health Beliefs." June 6, 2022.