Story by Mechiya Jamison, Summer 2018
My family often relies on and praises ginger root for its healing power and dietary benefits. It’s often used as an effective remedy for colds and fever symptoms such as sore throat, coughing, and overall nausea. It can be utilized to soothe stomach pain as well as improve the digestive system. In addition to healing, ginger’s rich, refreshing, and spicy flavor is the perfect accent to any dish. It has become a staple household item for my family.
Ginger root has always been present in my household, and it’s one of the first medicinal plants that has been introduced to me, and I’ve learned how to interact with it more as the years have passed. When it’s sliced and boiled, the water it’s boiled in can be used as a healing tea or for everyday use. When I have a sore throat, I take a bite out of ginger root and focus my swallowing in the area that is the most sore and the crushed ginger comforts my throat instantly.
Culturally speaking, there is little to no deep ties between African-American culture and ginger root. Most African-American home remedies stem from natural products that have already been processed, such as apple cider vinegar. Personally, ginger root has served as a gateway to other cultures and natural remedies. My family and I stumbled upon an Asian ginger root tea, which led us to inquire about other international remedies. We found that there are many useful cross cultural remedies; ginger root has essentially provided my family and I with a sense of cultural fluidity. This is important because although African-Americans have created our own culture, much of my experience as an African-American has consisted of observing and not understanding other American cultures. African-American culture has been historically invalidated and chalked up to pop culture. My own cultural disconnect was being reflected onto other cultures, but ginger root has helped bridge cultural gaps and mend cultural ties through the way it transcends cultures.