African American Interpersonal communication Essay through Body Art Tattoos make an individuals 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 Bibles 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). Tattoos 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 ones 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 made in prison bore than idle distraction.
Professor Cesare Lombroso, a leading criminal theorist of the 1890s, cited vengeance , vanity and superstitions as prime motivations behind these so called ideographic hieroglyphs. It was well accepted that tattoo represented a cryptic form of expression and a way of overcoming a fierce and unfortunate plight (Crockett 15). For many centuries, body piercings have been evident. Many from pirates to Roman Centurions, have had body piercing– sometimes symbolizing royalty , bravery, virility, or as a rite of passage (Greif, Hewitt 368).
Why do people alter their body, sometimes painfully and permanently with body piercing? Enid Schildkrout, curator .