Everyday Use By Alice Walker

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Heritage is important to most families because it is a value that is inherited, passed down from generations to generations. It includes inherited traditions, objects, culture, customs and practices. In the short story “Everyday Use”, Alice Walker explores this aspect of heritage with emphasize on the value of cultural heritage in the African American community in the late 1960s and in the early 1970s. The setting of “Everyday Use” took place in post-civil era when the African Americans were trying to find their own identity, which resulted to the formation of The Black Power Movement. The Black Power Movement was not only formed for social, economic and political change among African Americans but also to empower them to shun away from slavery …show more content…
She had the opportunity of going to school, had a lighter skin tone than Maggie, nicer hair and a fuller figure (Walker 316). Although Dee seems to have had it all when growing up, when she pays Mama a visit, she has a very contentious character. She idealizes an African culture by wearing a long dress on a summer day and bracelets and golden hanging earrings (Walker 317). Also, Dee has already adopted a new African name “Wangero”. Apparently, Dee changed her name to Wangero because she did not want to be identified with those who had oppressed her. “No Mama not ‘Dee’ Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo!...She’s dead…I couldn’t bear being named it any longer being named after the people who oppress me” (Walker 318). Wangero’s new cultural heritage is confounding. While she has adapted to a new Afrocentric name, she does not quite fathom where her name originated. It is due to ignorance that she acknowledges her new name and neglects her family legacy name. “You know as well as me you were named after your aunt Dicie” (Walker 318). Mama recounts on Dee’s lineage and she would have recounted even on times before the civil war but Wangero seemed not interested. The truth is, Wangero has been rejecting her past and present heritage due to lack of knowledge and lack of interest in exploration of her own culture. On his article “Heritage and Deracination in Walker’s “Everyday Use”” David Cowart also suggests that the new greetings to Mama “Wa-su-zo-Tean-o!”, is Lugandan evident of Wangero’s renouncement of her English language the language of slavery (178). In order to identify in their own culture, African Americans blended some African names with English. Wangero utilization of a tribal African language is discernibly clear that she is embracing an African American heritage of blending English and African words together rather than the afro-centric

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