Heritage is Who we are,
What we bring to the world,
and Where we came from.
Who We Are . . .
We are the sum total of all the people who share our blood line – we have some of the same genes which give us some of the same characteristics and traits. Maybe we are as tall as Great-Uncle Jasper or maybe our hair turned gray at 30 like Grandma Susie. We are also a copy of everyone who has been part of our upbringing – we may like rice and red-eye gravy because it was Mom's favorite dish to make – we may sound just like Dad on the phone or be a perfectionist like he was – we may be a "spitting image" of Great-Grandpa Jones or Aunt Hattie or we may just act like them. Who we are is a conglomeration of the people we are born and/or raised with and the things we learn along the way that make us unique while still identifying us by our family heritage.
What We Bring to the World . . .
Our contributions to the world around us are part of the culture in which we grew up, the experiences we had along the way, and the unique spin we put on these pieces of our heritage. We may be doctors because we grew up in a poor neighborhood where children were always sick and we wanted to bring healing to the world around us. We may be teachers because we were inspired by a great teacher who taught us to grab everything school and life have to offer and to never quit learning new things. We may be hard workers because we want desperately to be successful so our children will have opportunities we did not have.
We may be struggling alcoholics because we were raised in an environment where alcoholism and other addictions were accepted as the norm; we may be reformed addicts because we were raised in an environment where alcoholism and other addictions were destructive.
What we bring to the world around us is a mixture of all of the influences around us as our personalities were formed as well as all of the life situations we encountered, lived in, and either embraced or overcame.
Where We Came From . . .
Heritage is our past, our traditions, our customs, our way of life, that have been passed down through generations upon generations. We may be part of a community where a certain type of Southern cooking, holidays, and traditions such as Mardi Gras, which were brought to this country from across the ocean and now identify us as "Cajun".
We may be very strict religious people who drive buggies instead of cars because of the simple traditions that were brought to this country many years ago and which now identify us as "Amish". We may be part of a community where strong family ties are as important as personal freedom because we are descendants of a race of people who lost both and have spent generations struggling to regain them. Where all that came from defines us as a race, a creed, a nationality, a family, even as an individual.
The Heritage of a people is their birthright, traditions, customs, physical attributes, upbringing, attitudes, and a way of life that has been transmitted from the past, through the generations, to a people who embrace that legacy and take it on as their own.
This is our Heritage.
The Kente Cloth
"Part of the Fabric of Our Heritage"
The Kente Cloth (the patterned material that forms this continent is an example) was worn by kings and is still considered to be sacred and precious to the Akan people of Ghana and is called "Nwentoma" which means "woven cloth." To this day, it is still hand woven in Ghana and other African countries where Akan people live and perpetuate the tradition of the beautiful and sacred "Kente Cloth."