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African American history

The Black Power movement produced artistic and cultural products that both embodied and generated pride in “blackness” and further defined an African-American identity that remains contemporary. Black Power is often seen as a cultural revolution as much as a political revolution, with the goal of celebrating and emphasizing the distinctive group culture of African Americans to an American society that had previously been dominated by white artistic and cultural expressions. Black power utilized all available forms of folk, literary, and dramatic expression based in a common ancestral past to promote a message of self-actualization and cultural self-definition.[57]The emphasis on a distinctive black culture during the Black Power movement publicized and legitimized a culture gap between Blacks and Whites that had previously been ignored and denigrated. More generally, in recognizing the legitimacy of another culture and challenging the idea of white cultural superiority, the Black Power movement paved the way for the celebration of multiculturalism in America today.[citation needed]

The cultural concept of “soul” was fundamental to the image of African-American culture embodied by the Black Power movement. Soul, a type of “in-group cultural cachet,” was closely tied to black America’s need for individual and group self-identification.[58] A central expression of the “soulfulness” of the Black Power generation was a cultivation of aloofness and detachment, the creation of an “aura or emotional invulnerability,” a persona that challenged their position of relative powerlessness in greater society. The nonverbal expressions of this attitude, including everything from posture to handshakes, were developed as a counterpoint to the rigid, “up-tight” mannerisms of white people. Though the iconic symbol of black power, the arms raised with biceps flexed and clenched fists, is temporally specific, variants of the multitude of handshakes, or “giving and getting skin,” in the 1960s and 1970s as a mark of communal solidarity continue to exist as a part of black culture.[59] Clothing style also became an expression of Black Power in the 1960s and 1970s. Though many of the popular trends of the movement remained confined to the decade, the movement redefined standards of beauty that were historically influenced by Whites and instead celebrated a natural “blackness.” As Stokely Carmichael said in 1966, “We have to stop being ashamed of being black. A broad nose, thick lip and nappy hair is us and we are going to call that beautiful whether they like it or not.”[60]“Natural” hair styles, such as the Afro, became a socially acceptable tribute to group unity and a highly visible celebration of black heritage. Though the same social messages may no longer consciously influence individual hair or clothing styles in today’s society, the Black Power movement was influential in diversifying standards of beauty and aesthetic choices. The Black Power movement raised the idea of a black aesthetic that revealed the worth and beauty of all black people.[61]

In developing a powerful identity from the most elemental aspects of African-American folk life, the Black Power movement generated attention to the concept of “soul food,” a fresh, authentic, and natural style of cooking that originated in Africa. The flavor and solid nourishment of the food was credited with sustaining African Americans through centuries of oppression in America and became an important aid in nurturing contemporary racial pride.[62] Black Power advocates used the concept of “soul food” to further distinguish between white and black culture; though the basic elements of soul food were not specific to African-American food, Blacks believed in the distinctive quality, if not superiority, of foods prepared by Blacks. No longer racially specific, traditional “soul foods” such as yamscollard greens, and deep-fried chicken continue to hold a place in contemporary culinary life