Culture has to be learned; it is not part of our biological makeup, but our biological makeup makes cultures possible. (Eitzen & Zinn, 1998) Yet, ironically, the American culture is still divided into three major racial subcultures. Out of those three, the two prevailing subcultures are African - American and Caucasian. There has been a 400 year battle between the two subcultures. Although many African - Americans are accepted as 1st class citizens, the struggle still continues; the struggle is still a prevalence, in the one community for which we are to bond together.
I ran across Mikki Kendall's post and at first was taken aback. At first glance I thought she was downplaying the apparent growing issue in America. The fact that 1-88 children have Autism and that number has since tripled within the last few years. Why wouldn't people assume a "tantrum" is now a "meltdown".? That the boy on the train has Autism!
So, I read some more. I suppose curiosity took a hold of me! What could this woman possibly say to rectify her initial statement? There it was, in black and white. "I can say with some authority a black kid on the spectrum having that same issue wouldn't get half as much patience nor would his parent." Mikki Kendall was right! I couldn't argue with her in the least bit. She absolutely subsided my shock in her initial statement.
Here is why. As a college graduate, Anthropology was my favorite subject. I aced my Ethnography. Believe me, when I say, my Professor didn't give A's easily. I recalled the lessons on culture, subculture, history of pretty much everyone (even the tribe Collin Turnbull observed). One thing that always stuck out was how Macionis stated that: values, beliefs, behaviors, and material objects form people's way of life. An African - American subculture definitely has distinctive customs, values, norms, and lifestyles, music, dance, and self expressions - in which separate them from the other part of the world.
This is not to say anything negative about their subculture but rather explain further as to why this is. Many theorists and psychologist have formulated ideals as to why. The biggest one has been slavery. Before you role your eyes, don't focus on the "slavery" aspect, but rather the specific culture that was learned based on the premise that assimilation into the mainstream would go against everything their history has taught them. Heck, it is being taught to Caucasian children as we speak. The hurdles, tribulations, racism, and much more they have endured. Not to mention, African - Americans have truthfully been around the "American" culture the longest, for which they have suffered the most. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King didn't go with the mainstream, they went against!
Now, I am not saying they are suffering now, but am saying the subculture is real. It is there because history has made it so. So, if Eitzen & ZInn are correct (which many use this as the backbone in their thinking), ask yourself one question. What is the culture in which the African - American community has learned? You can believe your sweet butt, I went on a crusade to find out!
I asked several African-American women, born and raised here, what is it they learned when it came to rearing children. They all came from different backgrounds and had different educational levels. I didn't want any bias in my findings. Although, there were a lot of variables, one thing stood out! It was almost as shocking as when I first read Mikki Kendall's first tweet.
In the African - American community, there has been something passed down from generation to generation. It seems as if, "they have a boy, but raising a man. No crying, whining, or lying. Especially to your mom". The mother is to be respected first, but the older a woman you are (within the family), the utmost respect is to be given.
Another thing is that social acceptence is less needed. Even though they value "labled" clothing lines, it is not to gain acceptance or understanding from peers outside their subculture. Basically, if you aren't African - American, who cares if you like what they wear.
The last thing I found interesting was they seem to know: the loudness, possibly crude, or seemingly unfeeling they might seem to outsider when disciplining their children. For them, disciplining behind closed doors didn't matter much. You did the wrong deed, your punishment will fit the crime, regardless of where they are.
With that being said, the subculture of the African - American community is real! It truthfully doesn't matter where it stems but felt it might help to bring a better understanding as to the differences between the two sub-cultures. Especially when rearing children. If you are Caucasian, be honest with yourself. Would you spank your child in front of everyone? A portion of us might answer yes, but in reality, we think it, but don't do it.
That is exactly why Mikki was correct. Her observation of how other's perceive African - American's was spot on. Since most, in another sub-culture stereotype African - Americans, they would think that boy was just "acting up". Not understanding, he could be on the Spectrum as well.
Not to mention the statistics on African - American children being diagnosed with ASD is only 1-98. This gap could be from many issues. One, that has been discussed but not widely understood is the lack of reporting. Is the culture of African - Americans preventing the lack of reporting? I know in some cultures, it is forbidden to allow outsiders to know anything about their life. Why is so hard to believe that with all the criticism and racial tension, many would not want to report their child as having ASD? Just another thing to add to the list of what others think is wrong with them!
It could also be the lack of medical coverage. Considering there is a large amount of the African - American people in despair compared to Caucasians. One will never know until more people want to actually figure this out. Apprently, we as Americans want to discover life on other planets, yet don't want to take the time out to figure out the ones living here.
Having Autism or a child with a form of disability is hard. It's even harder to be looked down upon as if you are a bad parent or your child is problematic. As a community, we are supposed to ban together. We are supposed to: help, guide, understand, and accept one another, because the outsiders cannot. How can we call ourselves a community if we allow prejudice, stereotypes, and stigmas to get in the way of having empathy or compassion? I bet some don't know that the regressive rate for an African - American Autistic child is 2x as often than Caucasian! Why? Because it didn't pertain to your immediate culture!
Please, let us open our eyes. Let us redefine our community. Let us redefine culture as we know it. A subculture is : a part of a culture sharing characteristics in which distinguish from the broader one. Wouldn't the child with Autism on the train share the same characteristics regardless of race? Wouldn't the parent want the same compassion and understanding as the other? Even though the African - American subculture might not have the same need for social acceptance as Caucasian, they are still deserving of it!