Heritage and Culture in African American Literature


The introduction of African American heritage and cultural studies in the curriculums has had a lot of support as well as disapprovals regarding the content coverage. This paper forms an analysis of the challenges and the right Trans or multi-disciplinary approaches required to contribute to growth and development of the studies.

Challenges affecting the African American Literature

The first challenges the researchers of these studies have to face include the Geographical boundaries. Evidently, most analysis and writings of the studies have dealt with the African Americans in the United States thus losing the discipline’s global significance. Studying the Heritage and culture of African Americans, comes with various possible shuts of historical truth and compromise of social and cultural influences of African heritage outside the U.S.A. The studies ought to apply distinctive and appropriate analytical techniques that assist in studying of specific circumstances in order to capture and account for experiences of all the major societies of the African Diaspora especially outside the American social setting (Green, 31).

Secondly, the worldview of African-American studies need well representation and understanding. African worldview consists of values and believes of people with African descent. There studies ought to dwell upon the relationship of people and the environment without denying the wide variation regarding values and believes that assist to distinguish them from people of different origin and to shape their inter-personal relationship. According to Irele (7), the notion regarding African worldview entails the mode of expression for the shared values or believes without uniformly basing the studies upon particular system or a set of practices. The challenge most Africana researchers and writers have to tackle today entails ways of combating a notion that “traditional African beliefs are historical relics for the pre-modern life” (Irele, 7).

A lot of writing has distorted heritage and culture of African Americans. The procedure of examining the extent of evolution involving variants of African origin would be a strategy of addressing the human problems among people of African origin without confinement to a specific dissimilarity such as religion, race age, gender, or ethnical group. Considering an example of Walker’s writing titled ‘The color purple,’ it was a chronicle revelation of how black rural women struggled in Georgia in the early twentieth century.

The publication however brought about a heated debate and controversy over the issue of black representation. The male African-Americans also criticized the writing over reaffirming the old position of typecast manifestation against black communities as well as black men. The arguments against the writing were that Walker was fighting racial discrimination but equally focusing greatly on sexism (3). She was trying to address the issue of racism at the expense of sexism. Nevertheless, the text also had supporters especially among black women who were proud of her representation of feminism.

The differences of opinion are a clear indication of the effects of various heritage and cultural disclosures about the African-American literature in United States. Walker was trying to address various plights that both the black American and African woman has to undergo by exploring the unique problems they face, such as female circumcision. Although there are critics against such writings, her novel is still an academically rich source of material that burgeons on the traditional and African heritage and culture analysis for writers.

The main query is whether the study of this culture and heritage cause diversion from the subject matter to other obviously conflicting researches. In an analysis of this conflict, there is need for a more accurate understanding of the complexity involved in the experiences of the African people. This is a measure to understand the history and contemporary efforts of people. Possibly the literature is failing to clearly depict that from analysis of their heritage and cultural practice, Africa-Americans are shaping their destiny, as opposed to the perception that they are waiting to consume the western ideas or products.

Concurrences Concerning the Study of African American Literature

The paradigm of unity is an important aspect of the studies involving the culture and heritage of African American literature. Many writers/researchers have taken it as a major contributor to this social studies discipline. It is an important feature that offers periodical perspective of black people. The adequacy of the paradigm requires great thoughts due to the flow required in a text and the fact that the literature requires constant updating thus continuous research findings.

In line with Green (30), study of the African American literature especially the subjects concern with cultural heritage requires clear thesis in order to embrace the interdisciplinary approach and enabling a foundation that supports major expansions studies. The current curriculum follows teaching based structure especially history, social science, or politics. The conventional wisdom is not enough to acquaint the readers with all the required details. The alternative ways such as hypothesis and other data sourcing procedures can assist in interpreting experiences not considered within the boundaries of the subject.

The ‘Rising in the sun’ is writing about an African family in southern side of Chicago during mid twentieth century (Hansberry, 1). The writer tries to address the issue of segregation along the racial and economic lines. Witten initially as a play, ‘Rising in the sun’ portrays various challenges the black underwent in a more natural and realistic manner arguably due to its autobiographical style of writing. As revolutionary piece of writing, the play brings the plight of most black people and their struggle towards independence from colonial injustice, the writer therefore provides a strong background for the African-American Literature.

There is a wide distinction between the various approaches used by scholars with respect to the studies of African American literature. However, there is need to differentiate between interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary procedures of blending or integrating theories of a study. Multidisciplinary process of studying entails a conscious effort to examine the subject matter using various approaches either sequentially or in a comparable format as if dealing with a research topic tackled by various contributors form different disciplines.

On the other hand, interdisciplinary approach entails blending of theories and methods from various disciplines to form an individual study. Both the methods are reactive in relation to the boundaries set by the traditional disciplines. Today, decision to adopt trans-disciplinary approach that rejects the existing disciplinary boundaries is important. This diversifies the subject and synthesizes various approaches of understanding literature concerning African-American heritage and culture to acquire extra information. This is a big achievement because the current trends of multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches continue to shape the African American Literature as a study having progressive interpretation of heritage and culture (Green, 31).

Feminism in the Study of African American Literature

Criticizing against study of culture from the feminine side of literature is not necessary since there have been great omissions of literature concerning women in the past African-American literature. Current research studies ought to address appropriate strategies to enhance the contributions or manifests of women. The contribution should not be gender biased but treated in parallel by fully integrating the women side of events rather than picking their study as an add-on to that of male. Women have widely contributed to the liberation struggle and today it is evident that they equally and possibly playing the role of leadership in a better way especially in areas pertaining education, maintenance of the family, working and politics.


The biggest challenge concerning the heritage and culture of African American literature is need for clear articulation. Current literature assigns these studies different titles such as Blacks studies, African studies, Afro-American studies, Africana, Africa-logy and the most common African American studies. These different terms mostly portray different meaning while they cater for the same discipline. Lingual perceptions of suffixes and prefixes of the title bring about wide differences and give people too much room to diversify the studies beyond the requirements thus leading to conflicts.

Works Cited

Hansberry, Lorraine. A raisin in the sun. New York, NY: Random House Publishers. 1959. Print

Green, Charles. Manufacturing powerlessness in the black Diaspora: inner-City youth and the new global frontier. California, CA: AltaMira press Publishers. 2001. Print

Irele, Abiola. The African imagination: literature in Africa & the Black Diaspora. Oxford, UK: Oxford University press Publishers.2001. Print.

Walker, Alice. Possessing the secret of joy. New York, NY: Amistad press. 1992. Print.