Реферат: Poem Essay Research Paper African American Interpersonal

Poem Essay, Research Paper

African American Interpersonal Communication through Body Art

Tattoos make an individual’s self definition more complete by visually

communicating gang membership, status, rank and personal accomplishment (Phelan 277).

Tattooing and body piercing has been practiced in almost every culture around the world,

and for thousands of years. (Greif, Hewitt 367) The African American culture use body art

as a method of nonverbal interpersonal communication. The word tattoo became part of

the English vocabulary in 1769 when James Cook visited the Pacific Island of Tahiti.

Both sexes, he wrote, “ paint their bodies.” Tattow as it is called in their language, this is

done by inlaying the color of black under their skins in such a manner as to be indelible.

Some have ill designed figures of men birds or dogs, the women generally have this figure

Z simply on every joint of their fingers and toes (Shukla 234). Tattooing and body

piercing are increasing, especially among young college students. Yet in Western culture,

tattooing and piercing often have been considered taboo, perhaps stemming from the

Bible’s Old Testament citing in Leviticus 19:28 and Deutronomy 14:1 that prohibits the

marking of ones flesh in celebration of other gods ( Greif, Hewitt 367).

Tattoo’s reflect a persons past career objectives. To analyze the moral careers

communicated by these tattoos, we identify and elaborate upon five distinct phases in a

prison gang moral career: pre initiate, initiate, member, veteran, and supervisor ( Phelan

277). The major reasons tattoos are given are traditionally, body art has served to attract the

opposite sex, boost self esteem, ward off or invoke spirits, indicate social position or marital

status, identify with a particular age or gender group or mark a rite of passage, such as puberty or

marriage. It is this sort of strictly prescribed, highly ritualistic decoration that Beckwith and Fisher

depict in African ceremonies. “ We have tried to show how body art is relevant to every stage of

development, from birth to death”, says Fisher. But while the traditional, often spiritually based

versions of bod mod are quickly disappearing among indigenous peoples, the impulses behind

personal adornment remain unchanged: attracting a mate, signaling status, declaring allegiance to

a group( Lemonick 75). For men, the tattoo is a public identity symbol, and their first is usually on

their arm. Women reserve their tattoo for a more intimate audience, and they usually choose their

breast. For most, the tattoo is symbolic of their individuality and having withstood a

painful and exciting event. Tattooees enjoy being noticed, although they reveal their

tattoos selectively ( Davis 471). Anthropologists describe body art or modification as a

way of identifying oneself as being a part of a group, a tribe, or a gang: of denoting one’s

financial status or marital status: or even as a way of beautifying the body (Grief, Hewitt


Implicit here is the theme of deliverance–the redemptive passage from pain and

uncertainty wherein the tattoo serves as both silent witness and lucky charm. Yet sailors

and navel men have long applied symbols to their bodies, in an almost magical way, to

guide their vessels and protect themselves, to deflect the temptations of a faraway

women and even alleviate the pain of flogging. Soldiers, bikers and underworld gangs

continue to adorn themselves with a range of symbols and ritual inscriptions: badges of

rank, rites of passages, emblems, slogans and whimsical vision. And as

appalling and savage as the tattooed prisoner appeared to 19th century criminologists, who

wrestled to catalogue the criminal condition, it was well understood that the expansive

repertoire of marks and mutilations universally

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