You’ve decided to binge-watch black•ish on Netflix on your new Apple Mac Computer whilst eating a Big Mac and refreshing your Twitter feed to read updates on the trending topics. The common denominator: United States of America.
In the 1920s the USA was the land of the free and everyone wanted to be a part of the ‘American Dream’. Just less than 100 years later the saying has evolved into what Alicia Keys famously sung In Empire State of mind as ‘The concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ (well that was a reference to New York rather than of America) nevertheless the US has managed to sustain the perception of being the land of endless possibilities. Whilst this may be true to a great extent, since it is the birth place of modern music, namely Jazz and RnB, the home of international fashion brands and motion pictures- all these innovations have however managed to infiltrate into our everyday lives with the help of globalisation.
Globalisation is defined by the Oxford dictionary as “the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence on an international scale”. It is an arguable statement whether globalisation is in subtle terms Americanization.
There are scores of American companies like McDonalds, KFC, Coca Cola etc. that have been globalised in other countries which has resulted in local companies going out of business. These USA conglomerates don’t only supply products but also services such as the various social media companies. Social network giants include Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Youtube which are all American owned. Now, what would be a better way to get an opinion across the globe than through the internet and Social Media platforms. It is not only a space that connects people, but it also gives leeway/ freedom for others to share, instil and influence ideologies.
I do not think one would do justice to a topic focusing on USA without mentioning the Kardashian family who have revolutionised television through their reality show programs that focuses on showing their everyday lives to the whole world. They are regarded as the 21st Century Kennedy’s who have redefined the way we live our lives and how we perceive beauty. Our newsfeeds on Instagram are filled with young women showing off planet sized behinds and thick lips. These are some trends started by a 20 year old Kylie Jenner. We have also learnt to publicize the lavish side of our lives too.
Having American influences splashed all over the world on print and electronic media is wonderful since with it comes the fast paced technology, consumerism and political ideologies like democracy. Conversely, we cannot hide the hypocritical nature of the Americans. They have claimed to be a liberal country that denounces racialism in society. Yet there was a controversy of Black Lives Matter movement and the Ku Klux Klan still exists in modern times. During World War II the Nazis persecuted over a million Jews whilst the Americans killed over 60 million Native Americans in the 17th Century. Both were major crimes against humanity yet the latter atrocity is overlooked over the former.
The popularity of American culture and globalisation has created a similar point of reference for different cultures. This illustrates that despite our differences we are still similar to one another and we are brought together by ColdPlay and Nicki Minaj.
Having said that, it is important to reiterate that we need to be proud of who we are as individuals and as Africans, support local products and services first. Let us embrace and define our different cultures whilst preserving the Africanism in us.