African and Mexican Heritage and Health Beliefs

Cultural Group: African American and African

A brief history of the cultural group

  • The second largest ethnocultural group in America.
  • Descendants of Africans brought as slaves.
  • Africans are coming between 1619 and 1860 (Purnell, 2014).
  • Gained freedom after the ratification of the 13th Amendment.
  • The long struggle for equality in civil rights.

Values and Worldview

  • Putting a high value on education.
  • The great significance of family ties.
  • Attention to authentic African traditions.
  • Strong moral considerations and discouragement of immoral behavior.
  • The strong impact of religious values.

Language and communication patterns

  • English as a dominant language.
  • Informal African American version of English.
  • Open expression of feelings with friends and family.
  • Interpersonal, animated, and confrontational communication.
  • Loud, dynamic, and expressive speech (Giger, 2014).

Art and other expressive forms

  • Influenced by authentic African art.
  • The major role of folk artists.
  • Art roots found in skilled slaves.
  • Romantic and classical tendencies after Civil War.
  • The strong impact of Harlem Renaissance.

Norms and rules

  • Extended families frequently living together.
  • Usual involvement in diverse church activities.
  • Respectful behavior to adults and elderly.
  • Strong support from the Black community.
  • A strong feeling of ethnic identity (Bosley, 2017).

Lifestyle characteristics

  • The majority of matriarchal families.
  • Many people living below the poverty level.
  • Usually oriented on work and achievement.
  • Significance of social status within a community.
  • The strong impact of the church (Christian and others).

Relationship patterns and common rituals

  • Respect and obedience to the older generation.
  • The ritual of family reunion.
  • Strong family connections through generations.
  • Diversity of death rituals, including “voodoo death.”
  • Traditional African American funeral services (Giger, 2014).

Degree of assimilation or marginalization from mainstream society

  • Assimilation depends on the time of immigration.
  • Stronger assimilation among American-born individuals.
  • Preservation of authentic African rituals.
  • Assimilation of language used in communities.
  • Marginalization of African American communities.

Health behaviors and practices

  • Health care frequently neglected due to poverty.
  • Preference of family care rather than providers.
  • Visiting healthcare providers only in emergency.
  • Frequent use of home remedies and folk healers.
  • Low degree of treatment adherence (Purnell, 2014).

Socio-Cultural Group: Mexican Heritage

A brief history of the socio-cultural group

  • Newer immigrants living in America for 5-6 generations.
  • The peak of immigration after 1848.
  • Immigration caused by high poverty in Mexico.
  • Cases of lynching of Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
  • Many working immigrants after 1910.

Values and Worldview

  • Family as the first priority.
  • Value of good education for children.
  • Respect for older people ad those in higher positions.
  • Importance of high social status.
  • Support of family members and relatives (“Mexican family culture,” 2018).

Language and communication patterns

  • Diversity invariants of Spanish language.
  • Frequent use of both English and Spanish.
  • Importance of verbal communication.
  • Short personal distance during a conversation.
  • Touch is not common in public.

Art and other expressive forms

  • Mariachi style of folk music.
  • World-famous artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
  • Traditional folk art: colorful garments.
  • Silver-smithing, pottery, mosaics, and textiles.
  • Use of Mexican mythology symbols.

Norms and rules

  • Men are responsible for the financial support of families (Purnell, 2014).
  • Women take care of home and children.
  • Both patriarchal and matriarchal households.
  • Extended families living close to each other.
  • Highly supportive with family and relatives.

Lifestyle characteristics

  • Importance of academic education and a respected position.
  • Focus on diplomacy and tact.
  • Care for the prosperity of the clan.
  • The strong impact of religion on life.
  • Preference for traditional national cuisine.

Relationship patterns and Common rituals

  • Decisions are taken after consulting the family.
  • Preservation of customs and traditions.
  • Demonstration of affection between family members.
  • Significance of God parenting in families (“Mexican family culture,” 2018).
  • Importance of patron saint days (“The Mexican culture,” n.d.).

Degree of assimilation or marginalization from mainstream society

  • Assimilation depends on the period of immigration.
  • Generally the low level of assimilation.
  • Language barrier to assimilation.
  • Impact of identity choice and desire to assimilate.
  • Communities marginalized from mainstream society.

Health behaviors and practices

  • High rates of individuals who smoke.
  • Family as a credible source of health care.
  • Broad application of herbs and teas.
  • Belief in common cultural illnesses.
  • Preference of folk healthcare providers (Purnell, 2014).

Both Groups

A comparison and contrast analysis of common characteristics and distinguishing traits between the groups

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  • Common high role of family.
  • Similar respect for authentic traditions.
  • The strong role of religion for both communities.
  • Attention to folk art in culture.
  • Different degree of assimilation in society.

A discussion of differential approaches needed by health care professionals.

  • The necessity of considering cultural peculiarities.
  • Consideration of communication patterns.
  • Attention to folk remedies used by patients.
  • Discussion of health issues with family members.
  • Involvement of family in patient education.


Bosley, D. (2017). Cultural norms in the African-American population. Web.

Giger, J. N. (2014). Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention (6th ed.). St. Louis, MR: Elsevier

The Mexican culture. (n.d.). Web.

Mexican family culture: Important values, traditions, and beliefs. (2018). Web.

Purnell, L. D. (2014). Guide to culturally competent health care (3rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.

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