The Everyday Use Of Heritage
The Black Power Movement was a time of change and “Everyday Use” is proof of that. During the 70s African Americans were going through a dramatic change, a change that would alter the very way they lived their lives. From the moment Dee arrived you could tell change was in the air, the difference between Dee’s new lifestyle compared the old ways her mother and sister still live. She had brought home a man by the name of Hakim-a-barber who appeared to be well educated and financially well off. By 1973 blacks had made substantial gains in employment and income. In addition, they benefited from a growth of opportunities for education and job training (Black Americans). This is shown when Dee shows up with an expensive car and a vibrant color dress (467). Education played a major part in the Black Power Movement. The narrator mentions she never had much of an education herself, and after second grade the school she was attending shut down for an unknown reason (466). In 1972 about 65 percent of all blacks in their twenties were high school graduates, compared with only 54 per cent in 1967. There were 727,000 blacks attending college in 1972, nearly double the 1967 figure (Black Americans). Education became more open to the black community as the years passed. Dee has altered her whole life since leaving home for five years and has now changed her name to Wangero Leewanika Kemanjo as sign of respect to her true heritage.
According to Dee the reason she changed her name is because “she could not bear it any longer being named after the people that suppressed her” (468). Some Black Americans decided to liberate their identity by intentionally misspelling a given name so that their name would be theirs alone and would never have been used by a slave owner—e. g. , Dawne. The Civil Rights movement of the 60s and 70s strengthened the sense of Black pride and identity. American Blacks began to discover more about their Heritage (Psychology Today). The past is important for the future, things left behind by our deceased relatives can have significant meaning or hold great value, Wangero did not see items left behind by family as memories but as pieces of art that needed to be preserved. An example of this is the churn top their Uncle Buddy whittled out a tree they used to have, instead of seeing the object as family related she saw it fit to be a centerpiece for the alcove table (469).
Wangero sought to keep the two quilts she discovered and asked her mother if she could have them as well as the churn top. These two quilts showed significant meaning one was the Lone Star pattern, the other Walk Around the Mountain, both of which had bits and pieces of family history stitched within them. Wangero has an argument with her momma about keeping the quilts but momma already promised them to Maggie her younger sister, she is angered and says Maggie can’t appreciate these quilts they are not made for everyday use they are meant to be hung. In the end momma took the quilts away from her and handed them too Maggie, she yelled at momma saying you just don’t understand your heritage and exclaims you ought to try to make something of yourself too Maggie, it’s really a new day for us (471).
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