Cultural Interview By: Michael Bolling Clemson University

Background/Historical Background of Interviewee The subject for my cultural interview project is a woman that works in t he IPTAY office at Clemson University. Her name is Linda Davis and she is of Afr ican-American descent. She is 47 years of age and currently lives with her husba nd who is also of African-American descent and her one (1) child. She lives in A nderson, SC and has lived in this area for her whole life. She is originally fro m Clemson and resided here until the completion of her college career. She lived in a small house with her mother and father and her siblings. She is one of ten (10) children. There was a total of seven (7) girls and three (3) boys. She att ended kindergarten and the first three (3) years of elementary school in Seneca at a school which was sanctioned specifically for black children until the Clems on school district was integrated. Linda is of a different generation than I, a different geographical location and a different family setting. For these reason s, I felt like she would be a great subject to interview. The Interview I scheduled an interview with Linda to conduct the interview at her plac e of work, the IPTAY office. We sat and talked at her desk during her lunch hour and the interview lasted for about 25 minutes. As far as the actual interview, I used standard question and answer formatting. Prior to the interview, I gave h er a brief summation of what our class was about and a little bit about the assi gnment that I was working on. I devised some questions based on the criteria lai d out in the syllabus and recorded her answers in shorthand form. This is the ac tual interview: To begin, how large a role do you feel your culture plays in your daily life? I feel many things that happen to me and have happened to me are due to people’s e xpectations of me as a black woman. Basically, I feel like my culture, race and sex play are large role in my daily life. Would you consider yourself a culturally aware person? Why or why not? I would consider myself a very culturally aware person. I think that growing up in the south when I did, you didn’t really have a choice. I came up in a time wher e people made it very apparent that you were black so we had no choice but to em brace it. How much of a role do you believe your race or culture impacted some of the bigg er decisions in your life such as school or career path? Well, I think that culture plays a large role for everyone in those types of dec isions. When I came up, culturally, college education and even secondary educati on wasn’t pushed that hard so college was never that big of a deal for me. We all were in a rush to get a job so that we would be able to help out with financial matters around the house. As far as a career path, I got into the clerical kind of work at an early age because that’s the only kind of thing they would let a you ng child do. So that’s what I did. Eventually, I went to Tri-County Tech and got m y Associates degree. Can you think of a time when you have been oppressed or discriminated against? I

f so, describe this experience. I can think of a few…hahaha…seriously though, I have seen discrimination and oppress ion on more than one occasion. I’m not sure how you would classify this experience but, it was right after I graduated from Tri-County. I applied for a job with t he local police department. When I arrived, they said they weren’t hiring but with in the next week or so, they hired a white classmate of mine to fill the same po sition that I had applied for. After this, I went and worked for Duke Power. I h andled most of the filing and data entry for our office. There were two (2) whit e women that were supposed to be doing the same job as me but, they weren’t very g ood at what they were doing. Basically, nobody was able to help me and I ended u p doing the large majority of the work for all three (3) of us. I watched both o f them get a promotion to higher lever, higher paying positions despite the fact that neither of them were even good at the job they were doing. The worst part was when Duke had a downsizing, despite the fact that I had been there longer th an many people, guess who was the first one laid off? Do you think that you possess any cultural or racial biases or prejudices? I don’t think so. I mean, just living through and going through the things that I and those around me were subject to, I make a conscious effort not to ever make anyone else ever feel like that. Considering everything you know about the younger generation and me as an indivi dual what similarities do you think we have? Hmmm…I think that you have a strong cultural awareness and that is definitely some thing that I share. I also think, judging by the fact that you are doing and ass ignment right now, that you place an importance on education. I think that is so mething that we both share because education is the only way to make things bett er. If not, you are bound to stay stuck. I think you are a mama’s boy and to me th at says that you are very family oriented. I don’t know too much about your living situation but I can tell that you love your mother. A lot. I think that is some thing else that we have in common because my family is my source of strength. What differences do you think exist? I don’t think it’s just you but I think the younger generation doesn’t place enough im portance on the way things are today. I can remember when I wasn’t allowed to do t hings solely because I was black. I remember being threatened because my all bla ck softball team beat an all white team. I think that you guys take the libertie s you have for granted. Like it has always been like that and it hasn’t. There wer e many people that had to go through a lot, some even die so that you can do the things you do. I mean, it was only 50 or 60 years ago when black people couldn’t even go to this school that you go to. Or it is the 50th anniversary of the inte gration of MLB and Jackie Robinson’s debut. I feel like you guys just expect thing s to be and don’t even really give credit to what it took to get here. How do you feel about the “N” word? Don’t get me started! It is absolutely crazy. I hear people now-a-days use it like it’s a good thing. I have a teenage boy and I have heard him slip up a few times. It amazes me that you kids use it and don’t even care. I mean, that used to be th e word that people used to socially and mentally oppress us. I remember walking to the park and having people drive by yelling that at us to discourage us from being in “their” parks. Now you say it to each other. Crazy! You know what’s even craz ier…the fact that the younger kids feel like it’s ok for white people to say it. Whe n I was younger, someone would get their ass beat over something like that. Ha, excuse my French. Can you think of one specific time when you were exceptionally proud of your rac e or culture? The one instance that stands out to me is the march on Washington. It was an unb elievable thing to be a part of. So many people just coming together from all wa lks of life. I think during that time, every black person was proud to be a blac k American for the first time. There was just and indescribable glow out of ever yone. And what keeps me glowing is seeing that dream become a reality before my eyes. What are some strengths that you think your culture or race inherently possess? I think that as black people, we are very family-centered because for a long tim

e, that’s all we had. I think that we have a strong cultural awareness because of the battles we as a race have had to fight to get to the point that we are now. I think generally, we are a religious people because once again, that’s something passed down through the generations. Parents and grandparents have been instilli ng that in their children since the days of slavery. Um, finally, I think that b lack women are some of the strongest people on the planet. I think that many tim es, the woman has to be the rock because of circumstances. Black men are absent in the home at an alarming rate due to jail, drugs and other things and the wome n are left to hold things together. This strength and respect for the black woma n is passed down through the generations. Ok, that’s all the questions I have for you. I really appreciate you taking the ti me to talk to me and give me some insight on your culture, heritage and race. It has definitely been and enlightening experience for me and hopefully not too pa inful for you…hahaha…but, thank you for your time and I will keep you posted on how my assignment turns out. Theoretical Assessment of Interviewee’s Cultural Identity The model that I focused on is the Racial/Cultural Minority Identity Mod el (R/CID). After reviewing the interview, I found it interesting that I was abl e to notice a few of the stages from the model while others were not so prevalen t to me. Throughout the interview I never saw the actualization of neither the c onformity stage nor the dissonance stage. In the interview, Linda mentions that people made you aware that you were black. I feel like this represents both your family and those of varying colors and races. I think in a situation where you are dealing with extremes such as segregation, you are socialized to understand and accept your own culture without having the opportunity to go through the pha se of dissonance or conformity. I think the Resistance/Immersion phase is clearl y identifiable. At the time, the largely held view was that African-Americans we re generally inferior. Obviously, Linda and her siblings and most of the other A frican-Americans didn’t agree with this sentiment. They also showed anger and aggr ession toward those who endorsed the views that black people were less. I think this is evident in the question regarding the “N” word. I was not able to find any p articular area of the interview that stood out to me as being the Introspection stage. I thoroughly examined the interview but like the first two (2) stages, I was unable to find anything that conclusively stood out as fitting in the intros pection stage. There is however, areas of the interview that stood out as fittin g into the Integrative Awareness stage. First, I feel that inherently, African-A mericans inherently feel an inclusion into the US culture purely by the title we go by; African-American. Linda constantly refers to herself as an African-Ameri can. The question regarding any biases or prejudices also fits into the criteria for stage five (5). She says that due to the things that she had to endure, she consciously makes and effort to not cause anyone to have to face racism, discri mination or prejudice. Personal Reaction/Reflection For me, I was surprised by how similarly Linda felt about some of the is sues that we discussed early in the semester. The thing that really stood out to me was the issue of the “N” word. She had the exact same sentiment that was shared by Dr. Warner and our guests who came in for our roundtable discussion about the MLK Party. It just confirmed for me that it is a generational thing and as we p rogress further from the actual times when the “N” word was used in a discriminatory manner, it takes on less and less significance. Being of the generation I am, I would never imagine letting a white person use that word regarding me but it se ems to be acceptable among younger children whereas, the use of the word at all is reprehensible to those of the previous generations. The other thing that real ly stood out to me is the fact that Linda actually lived through a time when thi ngs were segregated. To me, that seems like an eternity ago but, for her, it was merely a memory of things that she actually lived. I was also pleasantly surpri sed by the things that Linda thought we had in common. Although, Linda and I hav e not spent an excessive amount of time together, she was seemingly innately abl

e to point out similarities that I wouldn’t have thought were evident to anyone be sides those close to me. It made me wonder, along with the last question, if the re were some things that were in fact racially motivated. I thought about this b ecause despite the fact that we come from different cultures, based on geography , age, etc., we still shared quite a few beliefs. Summary In this project, I conducted an interview with an older, African-America n woman. Throughout the course of the interview, I asked her various questions r egarding her culture and views on certain aspects of culture and race. She spoke about things she had to go through and issues that she still faces today that m olded her into the woman she is. We also touched on the ways that my generation, being a younger adult, both varies and is similar to her generation. We spoke i n a standard question-answer interview format. By conducting the interview, I ga thered a great deal of information. I heard many subjects that we have talked or learned about in class. I was also able to take the interview material and appl y it to one of the Cultural Identity Models we looked at in class. All in all, i t was both an enlightening and educational experience. References Warner, Cheryl. April 11, 2007. Racial Identity Models vs. Ethnic Identity Models. Retrieved 4/11/07 http://bb.clemson.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?url=/bin/common/course.pl ?course_id=_20170_1&

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