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From knowing African Americans, my life has been enriched. Their culture is flooded with courage, strong spirituality and faith, humility, and strength. Oh, and love for music! They should not only be acknowledged, but appreciated for the rich heritage they have to offer America. We need the strength that they have earned through their historical journey to become free. I often feel complacent in a white and narrow world view. We, as Americans, are stretching and growing in our understanding.

I have had unusual up-close-and-personal exposure to many cultures. From the time I was a child, I sought out the one who was different. I wanted to learn. Other cultures help me to know my own. If I had known what I know now when I was taking middle school history, I would be not have been able to answer any of those multiple choice questions from a history book that didn’t always give me a true picture of America.

As a single grown up person, I have made opportunities to have people from other countries in my home and as neighbors. I have developed relationships with Par, from India, and Wenjing from China and treat them as daughters. There have been years of sharing back and forth in the experiences of life very regularly for years. I have visited where they have grown up and met their large extended families and relished their distinctive cultures. I now have a relationship with a young mom from Turkey, a neighbor. My Thanksgiving celebrations bring together Mexicans, Turkish, Indian, White American, and Chinese. They cook up their favorite foods and we share in cultures. There are kids running everywhere through my house. This year, my new African American friend, Melody with her kids, will be joining in the beautiful mix!

I have pondered how African American is different. Because of history, their culture has caused a negative current in how they are accepted. We ask why. There is a deep rift between fellow Americans. The war was supposed to have conquered it, but the human heart is unable to receive the freedom we must all have in order to be who we are. Many Americans, no matter what their background, identify who they are by their history, their experiences, and their family heritage. Throughout history of the world there has always been those who are oppressive and those who are oppressed. Can that be changed? Not until the heart changes. I can think differently, but my heart and experiences lead how I behave, feel, and process life. My heart is revived by a power greater. Jesus is present. I still have my mistaken human ideas. Jesus is present. I can be open and accepting. Jesus is present.

How does anything change? It is through one person befriending another person, without preconceived ideas (if possible) and interacting and doing fun things together. What if the African American culture was not present in America? How absolutely boring. We need each other. Even if it is just to learn how to get along.

 

Muncie, Indiana

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