I must admit that before my trip to the California African American Museum I was skeptical that I would learn anything of value to myself from that experience. Being of foreign descent, American History is a bit alien to me and even more so for African American history. Yet as the day went on, I found myself staring in awe at the displays and gaining a profound respect for the African American culture. The first thing which caught my attention was that the California African American Museum was adorned all over by Afrocentric artwork.
It was strange the way the paintings attracted by attention. Normally I don’t pay attention to paintings but there was something about these paintings that struck me. The history and beauty of the African American culture was unlike any I had ever seen or experienced previously. On a personal level, the relevance of this to me is that I too am of a different race. I have my own unique culture and I deeply cherish this. Seeing this display made me realize the beauty of my own culture. I began to understand how strong a people can be as long as they appreciate and cherish their own culture.
I am not ashamed to admit my roots and my culture. In fact, I can proudly say that because of my experience at this museum I have come to accept more my culture and come to a better understanding of who I am in this world. Another profound feeling I got from my visit was the manner by which this place was designed. The California African American Museum is a fairly large space and has plenty to offer its visitors from painting to sculpture to multimedia installations by African-American artists.
Perhaps the most amazing of all the displays is the rotating exhibits of the Rhythms of the Soul, a showcase of the instruments of Africa (Kennedy 2007). One can clearly see how rich the cultural heritage of the African American culture is. In the same line of thinking, one can imagine how cultures and races have evolved from their primitive origins into what they are today. These items are some of the many wonderful pieces that I saw at the California African American Museum. The piece on the left most portion is a head-dress from Nigeria while the one on the right most portion is a face-mask from the Republic of Congo.
Being of foreign descent, I had never previously encountered such strange things and so when I first saw these things I had to admit that I was a bit dumbfounded by it and could make neither heads nor tails of them. Along with these ceremonial masks were decorative household implements from across Sub-Saharan Africa. These works show the type of art historical context that African Americans participated in prior to coming to the United States (Kennedy 2007). It was a context that was based on communal well being that encompassed ritual, mythology and cosmology that connected the people with their environment (Gerstle 2002).
I dare say that my appreciation for this place has a lot to do with the many races and cultures in the area. The United States is a melting pot of many different cultures. There are so many diverse people in a single location and they all bring their heritage with them. The result is a rich tapestry of culture that is unlike any that can be found in the world (Gerstle 2002). The thing that makes this even more special is the acceptance of the people for the uniqueness of others. This is why I feel that this museum is one of my favorite locations because it is a testament to that spirit of acceptance and mutual respect.
As I continue through my favorite place, I see that there are more surprises in store for me as inside the galleries of the California African-American Museum are treasures of African-American art, history and culture. A kaleidoscope of art and history exhibitions is designed to enhance the public’s knowledge of the African-American’s contributions, both past and present. Quite a number of these exhibitions also explore little-known African-American contributions to the fields of science, sports, medicine, and technological invention.
Upcoming exhibits feature Blacks in golf, science, technology and the California gold rush. As a whole, I think that the California African American Museum is my favorite place because it is very enlightening. While not totally ignorant of the plight of the early African Americans in the United States, I saw another side of this culture. One that is very diverse and full of mysticism and full of talent. The African Americans are a proud people and the California African American Museum has shown that they indeed have every right to be proud.
With a background as colorful and magical as theirs, the African Americans and perhaps the rest of the world should all join in to preserve and to develop whatever remains of that proud and beautiful heritage of theirs. Works Cited: Minchin, Timothy. Hiring Black Worker: The Racial Integration of the Southern Textile Industry. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press, 1999. Roth, Byron. Prescription for Failure: Race Relations in the Age of Social Science. New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 1994. Swain, Carol. The New White Nationalism in America: Its Challenge to Integration.
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Kennedy, David, Cohen, Lizabeth, and Piehl, Mel (2007) The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic Wadsworth Publishing Company 7th Edition ISBN: 0618776125 Hollitz, John (2006) Contending Voices: Biographical Explorations of the American Past, Volume II: Since 1865 (Second Edition) (Paperback) Wadsworth Publishing; 2 edition (June 22, 2006) ISBN-10: 0618660887 Gerstle, Gary (2002) American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century (Paperback) Princeton University Press (August 5, 2002) ISBN-10: 0691102775