Black and brown people have come to embrace a reality that has been shaped by their shared oppressions. Through political activism and understanding of their subordinate roles in society, black and brown people have developed methods of protest, to not only reclaim their identity in white America, but use their cultural as a way to solidify their presence in a society that seeks to make them invisible. Cultural nationalism goes beyond the aesthetic. It is a lifestyle not a trend. It is a way for marginalized people to collectively live in their shared experiences through self-expressive forms such as style of dress, hair, and speaking. Cultural nationalism validates the importance of other cultures deemed by society as “other”. It gives black and brown people a sense of pride in being people of color in a white dominated society, which constantly seeks to normalize Eurocentric standards of both beauty and culture.
Cultural Nationalism played a major role within the Black liberation movement. It embodied more than just afros, shirts embroidered with the black power fist and speaking Swahili (chosen as the language of liberation). It served as a way for black people to gain a sense of pride in who they were. The idea of pride in oneself predates the 1970's era, when Marcus Garvey, a 19th century black activist, proclaimed “Black is Beautiful”. What made cultural nationalism valuable to the movement, was that many activist within believed that true liberation began with black people accepting themselves in their purest forms, separate from a white dominated society. It was a way for black people to see the beauty in themselves, when for so long, they were told their natural features were inferior. It gave them a sense of pride in being black. Cultural Nationalism in itself was a practice of black liberation. Black people were removing the “chains” of Eurocentric standards, and embracing their African roots. It allowed black people to articulate their own history and reality through their experiences, and not from the perspective of white people. It gave black people the power to create their own representation in the media.Black people were refusing to participate in their own subordination, by upholding themsleves to European standards. Although often times branded as unpatriotic of anti-white, cultural nationalism's sole purpose was to promote the ideology that many cultures can coexist within one society and not just one. It promotes the ideology that black people need refuge and safe places in what is familiar. It gave a voice to the voiceless, and a face to the invisible.
Chicano cultural nationalism played out primarily through the Chicano art movement, which emphasizes the appreciation, preservation, and continuation of Chicano culture and demanded recognition in the artistic zeitgeist of America. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, advertisers and traditional art institutions explicitly ignored and rejected Chicano interests and works, suppressing Latin culture. For instance, in 1972 when Chicano artist group Asco pitched an exhibit idea to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), their art was derided as graffiti rather than art. The group then spray painted their names on a wall of the museum building and took a picture to create Spray Paint LACMA, now an iconic photograph. In the 1960s and 1970s Chicano activists grew eager to reconnect with Mexican artistic traditions and rebel against the culture industry’s refusal to acknowledge Chicanos as artists and consumers. Thus, many activists took up art, learning to paint, dance, act, write or sing, and taking an interest in art history. This pamphlet, an agenda for a Chicano art festival, is representative of not only the emphasis on creating and sharing traditional Latin art, but also the often blurred and mixed nature of culture, acknowledging that Chicano art and culture draws on black, Asian and anglo cultural traditions as well.
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