African American Culture 5 Essay
African American Culture 5
Question# 4: African cultures, by and large, bring a similar world view to the relationship between man and the spiritual realm, one that is marked by an extremely personal interaction. In the broader African spiritual world human beings are seen to be under the constant influence of other people, their ancestors, minor deities, the Creator, and various forces of nature. As a result the African spiritual world can be described as interactive since all things are endowed with life-force. How is this idea expressed in ritual approaches to morality, wrongdoing, and spiritual empowerment?
African American religion has always been heavily involved and influenced by the notion of morality, wrong doing and spiritual empowerment since the slave days if not earlier, African Americans came to embrace Protestant Christianity and adapted their own version of it which is consistent with evidence in the 19th century and a little bit of the 18th, at the time Christianity had little effect on slave society through the efforts of Anglicans, but it was not because African Americans rejected the gospel but because whites seized Christian brotherhood from blacks.
As blacks in the South and in the British Caribbean struggled to develop individual and collective identities from the ideas and ways of African culture and their new conditions of life, the series of efforts by evangelicals to convert slaves eventually gave rise to a distinct African-American form of Christian theology, worship style, and religious community. The importance of religion and having their own take on it is among African Americans, as among all people, rests on fulfilling the human need for an understanding of one’s place in both the spiritual and temporal world.
Although it was difficult, African Americans discovered in evangelical conversion requirements an opportunity to reassert personal authority based on their ability to communicate directly with God and to bring others to recognize the need for personal repentance and acceptance of Jesus. A perfect example that supports the connection between religious involvement and a sense of personal identity, is found in a slave woman who, back then it was not common for them to tell missionaries that her people have come from across the sea and lost their father and mother, and therefore want to know the Father.
The displacement of Africans, for whom locality was critical to interactions with the spiritual world, did not strip them of their religious identity, but required them to learn the spiritual landscape of their new home and reshape their practices accordingly. “Come Shouting to Zion” details the many religious rituals that Africans preserved in the new world, especially those surrounding fundamental life events such as the birth and naming of children, marriage, burial ceremonies, and ritual dancing and singing to communicate with ancestors and deities.
The influence of Africans with many diverse but fundamentally similar cultures in a strange new land encouraged slaves to form new pan-African cultures, which grew increasingly popular as later generations of slaves were born into bondage in America, establishing a distinct African-American culture. The pidgin African-English is a prime example of Africans in American creating a system of communication that was not traceable to a particular African ethnic origin, nor was it a perfect imitation of American English, but was instead shared by blacks in America.
As slaves first encountered a foreign language that whites wished them to learn well enough to be more productive but not well enough to pose a threat to the race-based socioeconomic hierarchy, so they became acquainted with Christianity at the will of whites, but when given the opportunity, appropriated it for their own purposes. In the early encounters between slaves and Christianity it is without question that African, and particularly American-born slaves, sought a spirituality that would explain or show their temporal condition.
Some salves looked to a theology of liberation and equality among Christians, which they could glean from 18th century evangelicals, mostly Anglicans, who tried to downplay these aspects of biblical teaching. The early period of evangelism was restricted by the fears of slave-owners that slaves who converted to Christianity would feel empowered to revolt against their bondage. Several conspired rebellions and many smaller incidents of black assertion were linked to blacks who had heard enough preaching to identify themselves with the enslaved nation of Israel.
This fed the fears of whites, and Anglicans continued to complain that the planters who prohibited them from educating slaves on religious matters were the largest hindrance to saving African American souls. While racism was strengthened and slaves were unable to improve their social status by conforming to white European-American values, very few blacks found the Christian message Anglicans shared with them appealing . Anglican churches maintained strict separation of rich and poor, white and black, during services and sacraments.
The high-church emphasized that learned men alone were authorized to teach and that blacks would listen without questioning and to accept the extension of their temporal message and isolation from whites into the religious sphere. Under these terms, it is I am not surprised that Christianity failed to take root as a meaningful religion, a spiritual world that Africans wanted to live in. But it is essential to recognize the role of whites in shaping the message that Africans were allowed to hear, and the role specifically of slaveholders in excluding blacks from access to Christianity.
That blacks expressed their agency in rejecting this early version of Christianity offered to them. . At the same time Anglicans were confused over their lack of success in the Southern mainland, Moravians made a significant impact on blacks in the Caribbean by bringing a different vision of a Christian community. Moravians, Methodists, Separate Baptists, and a few other missionaries in the late 18th and early 19th centuries who sought out African Americans stressed spiritual, if not always worldly, equality.
Africans identified with and embraced images of a savior who had suffered like they did, and joined these Christian images with African musical modes of expression to create spirituals that reminded: “Jesus been down to de mire/ You must bow low to de mire” (Stuckey, 139). However, you must finally accept Christianity as an affirmation of their lowly place in society and a divine exhortation to obedience and docility, as many white slaveholders had hoped they would.
Rather, blacks found opportunities at biracial revival meetings which were meetings held at locations most often church, in which slaves and blacks were black would interpret what they heard and to share their divinely inspired interpretations of Christian faith, even from pulpits. During this critical period when a significant portion of blacks in the Caribbean and American South were first offered Christianity, they clearly adopted it and transformed it into something that was their own.
After the period of revivals that first sparked wide-scale conversions in the South, many African-Americans focused on building a community in which they could support one another and worship in their own African-influenced style. Local black congregations extended their religious community, most notably with the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in1816. As an institution spanning several states, the A. M. E.
Church allowed blacks to take part at different levels in a collective, hierarchical social system as had never before been possible under American slavery. blacks continued to participate as minorities in biracial congregations (still with segregated seating) in most parts of the south and the expanding frontier, but found fewer opportunities to become ordained preachers or lay leaders in mixed parishes, where they were likely only to be allowed to “exercise the gift, provided they teach sound Doctrine sic” under the approval of whites (Frey & Wood, 166).
In the creation of their own religious communities in which no whites were present to criticize “overemotional” black forms of religious expression and persisting practices, such as polygamy and dancing, African-Americans actively designed a spirituality that fulfilled their needs in the slave societies of the Americas. African-American religiosity was then, as it is now, “centered on extended and expanding families and households, the importance of self-determination and personal dignity, mutual aid, and shared responsibility for the progress of the race” (Hortons, xi).
In my opinion, African agency is most clearly supported by evidence of Africans defining their faith, modes of worship, and religious ties as part of a larger emerging African-American culture. Change was a relentless fact of life for Africans in 18th and 19th century America, most tragically present in enslavement and removal from Africa and domestic trade within the Americas that broke up families as masters bought and sold property.
Outside the personal struggles of individual slaves, the changes in ideology and society wrought by the era of the American Revolution exposed Africans and their descendents to evolving external ideas about their place within American society, their rights as humans, and their needs as spiritual beings. Religion was one of the few arenas in which African-Americans could control the changes in their individual lives and their culture as a whole. Evolving religious traditions provided individuals over generations with a source of spiritual renewal and a supportive community and prepared an institution that could serve future generations.
The long and turbulent transition from African forms of religiosity to African-influenced forms of Protestantism shows that black Americans created, out of all religious ideas and structures available to them, a faith that was their own. Question#3 The musical selections in this section come from Africa and the Americas. Some are examples of the preservation of traditional musical styles; others are examples of the adaptation of traditional modes of expression to modern styles. Prevalent in each performance is the use of either percussion instruments such as drums or singing in groups or by soloists.
How do these musical selections exemplify a common African musical aesthetic, i. e. rhythmic syncopation, call-and-response, melodic constructions, vocal colors, in both traditional and contemporary expressions? African dance has contributed many characteristics to dance in America. We see evidence of this in many aspects of dance today. Being such a diverse nation, America has the blessing of combining original dances from different cultures to create an amazing dance repertoire. American dance as we know would be completely different, if it weren’t for the Africans.
African dance began with the different rhythms of the tribes. Its roots in America began with the slave trade. The American slave trade began in 1619, (However, Africans were imported as slaves to the West Indies staring almost a century before that) with the arrival of Dutch trading ships carrying a cargo of Africans to Virginia. They were first brought over by boat to places such as Brazil, Cuba, and Haiti. Eventually different countries end up taking over those nations and slaves fall under their rule.
In Brazil, the Portuguese take over, in Cuba the Spanish take over, and in Haiti, the French take over. The retaining of African culture by those in slavery was stronger in the other nations than in America, as the Spanish and French rulers adhered to the more lenient view of dancing taken by the Catholic Church. In America, the Protestant church strongly disapproved of dance. Therefore, dances that occurred in the West Indies, Brazil, Haiti and Cuba retained more of the African dance structure, than those in America did. Those dances can be classified as recreational or sacred.
An example of a recreational dance is the Juba, which was a competitive dance where opponents would outdo each other in feats of skill, sometimes while balancing something on their head. Sacred dances were based on the worship of religious gods. The goal of the dance was for the dancer to become “possessed” by the god so that it would speak through the dancer. Two examples are voodoo and Shango dances. Traces of the African religious practice of possession, or disengaging from reality through the combined effects of music and dance, can be detected in the appeal of some forms of jazz dance.
In America, the dance movement of Africa was restrained mainly by two factors: the attitude of the church towards dancing as being immoral and the restricted use of the primary African instrument (the drum). Drumming was banned in 1739 following a slave insurrection. White plantation owners responded by banning all drums and that forced slaves to search for other percussion options. They substituted with banjos, clapping hands, stomping feet, and the fiddle. Dances that occurred on the Plantations were for recreation and religious reasons also.
Because of the European influence in America, the movement gave a distinct American appearance, rather than a strictly African one. Many dances imitated animals. There were also circle dances and dances for celebrations. Another category that emerged was competitive dances. The most well known one was the cakewalk. The slaves had witnessed their owners’ dancing festivities and imitated their stiff upper bodies while contrasting it with loose leg movements. The owners enjoyed watching this and gave a cake to the best dancer.
The observation of African dancing by the whites led to them stereotyping the dancing slave. They began to blacken their faces and imitate them using such indigenous movements as the ‘shuffle’. The imitation dances by whites started an era of American entertainment based on the stereotype on the dancing ‘Negro’. Before the Civil War, professional dancers were mostly white, with the exception of William Henry Lane. He was also known as “Master Juba” and was a freeborn slave thought to be the best dancer in the World. He had lived in Manhattan where the Irish immigrants also lived.
His dancing was a combination of Irish jig dancing and African rhythm, just like the slaves who were forced to compete with the Irish migrant workers aboard the ships. Both his movements and the Nigerian slaves are said to be the start of tap dance. Minstrelsy was also a popular form of entertainment in America from 1845 –1900. The Minstrel show was a group of male performers that portrayed the Negro as either slow and shuffling or sharply dressed and quick moving. The minstrel show proved prominent in spreading vernacular dances like the cakewalk and jig dancing on a wide scale.
The next major change after minstrelsy came with the birth of ragtime music and ballroom dancing after 1910. A bunch of animal dances were seen in white ballrooms. Examples were the Turkey Trot, and Chicken Scratch. The invasion of ballrooms with native inspired dances set the stage for the same process to occur on Broadway. Zeigfield borrowed some of these dances for his Follies. Social dance became introduced on the theatrical stage. The big aspect being borrowed wasn’t the actual dances, but their swinging qualities. In 1921, Shuffle Along featured a jazz inspired dance called the Charleston.
It left the audience with a lot of energy and a new respect towards black dancing. Tap was now also brought to white audiences and the musical comedies took on a new, more rhythmic life. In the late 1920s, jazz inspired songs replaced the popular white standards and America accepted Jazz music as its own. Louis Armstrong was a big part of the creation of swing music. It was a style of jazz music that emphasized African influenced rhythm and was played by big bands. Faster and sharper footwork came about and the Lindy was the new dance craze.
It incorporated the shuffle and glide and buck and wing movements from early African dances. The Lindy was significant for starting jazz dance styles used in later musicals. It also gave the opportunity for white choreographers to experience African swing. Jazz music and dancing slowed down in popularity after WWII. Technology and music were evolving. The beat became more complex and musicians like Charlie Parker and Dizie Gillespie explored more with improve. The overall result was, jazz music became something more to listen to rather than to dance socially.
The advent of Television in the 1950s also kept people at home instead of on the dance floors. African American dance became more of an artistic expression than a social means. Professional companies and dancers restored early African rhythms and the beauty and emotion of their traditional songs, including Catherine Dunham’s “Shango”, Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” and Bill T. Jones’ “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. In the past 50 years, African American dance has been rich in innovations as well as connections with the past. The definition of professional dance has broadened beyond ballet, modern, and jazz.
Popular and social dances, including the urban black dance forms of break dancing and hip-hop have been recognized for their artistry and expressiveness. Dance created and performed by African Americans has become a permanent part of American dance. Every dancer and almost every person in America, in one way or another has danced steps that resemble early African polyrhythmic movements. Personally, I think the dance World in America could no have flourished as well as it did without it’s African influences. since the slave trade the drum has been used all over the world as a means of communication and self expression.
Its broad variety of users includes the early African tribes, using them for ceremonial purposes. The Africans brought drums with them to the Americas and helped to develop their popularity among American musicians. In the mid 1900’s drum sets were brought about. These revolutionary collaborations of percussive pieces started off with a pair of hi-hats, a bass and snare drum, and a couple of tom toms. Later as the music progressed, so did the drum kits, completely eliminating the need for an entire drum section.
With the coming of the rock and roll movement the drum kits were changing, they needed to accommodate the new music styles. They became sonically diverse and even electronic drums were brought about; making them infinitely adjustable both ergonomically and musically. With every major drum manufacturer competing to have the best product on the market drums will always be evolving. African American musicians and early slaves choose to use drums as a common form of expression because of the deep bass that was used to duplicate heart beat and thunder.
The sound waves for open ended and string instruments is fairly straight forward. However, for a closed end instrument, such as a drum, the sound waves are different. A lot of the energy is dissipated through the shell of the drum, which is the reason for the variance in drum construction these days. Many different kinds of wood are used to generate different sounds, or a different amount of energy absorption. For a warmer, deeper sound maple construction is used while birch is used to get a high, resonant tone full of vibration. The heaviest wood that dissipates the most amount of energy is oak, creating a lower, flat sound.
Question#1 I believe that Egypt’s economic progress over the last decade is a great example of showing how They have come a long way and are still vastly improving. Egypt is the third-largest economy in the Middle East and North Africa region (after Saudi Arabia and Israel), as well as one of the strongest, with significant potential for future economic growth and diversification. With a real commitment to economic reform, which favors a large privatization program and the encouragement of private investment and growth. The improvement in Ghana is evident in how their country has such a diverse economy.
The Gold Coast was renamed Ghana upon independence in 1957 because of indications that present-day inhabitants descended from migrants who moved south from the ancient kingdom of Ghana. By West African standards, Ghana has a relatively diverse and rich natural resource base Minerals–principally gold, diamonds, manganese ore, and bauxite–are produced and exported. Exploration for oil and gas resources is ongoing. Timber and marine resources are important but declining resources. Agriculture remains a mainstay of the economy, accounting for more than one-third of GDP and about 55% of formal employment.
Cash crops consist primarily of cocoa and cocoa products, which typically provide about one-third of export revenue, timber products, coconuts and other palm products, shear nuts , and coffee. Ghana also has established a successful program of nontraditional agricultural products for export including pineapples, cashews, and peppers. Cassava, yams, plantains, corn, rice, peanuts, millet, and sorghum are the basic foodstuffs. Fish, poultry, and meat also are important dietary staples. Ghana’s industrial base is relatively advanced compared to many other African countries.
Industries include textiles, apparel, steel (using scrap), tires, oil refining, flour milling, beverages, tobacco, simple consumer goods, and car, truck, and bus assembly. Industry, including mining, manufacturing, construction and electricity, accounts for about 25% of GDP. I strongly believe that since Ghana and Egypt have improved so vastly it is helping African Americans improve in general, the saying “We come from a long line of kings and queens is such a truthful statement if you look back on history. We have a lot of ancestry that lies within Ghana and Egypt.
With the knowledge of the past it will help us to continue realize our past and bring us to terms with the future. We can reverse the process by not letting people hold us back and to not blame others. I also believe that strong knowledge of Ghana and Egypt and Mali, will also further our culture by being educated and not told how our past was. There are a lot of invention by many great African Americans that most people do not know that black inventors were behind the idea, not that is matters that a black or a white person constructed or came up with an idea for a patent, it is essential
that we are have contributed just as many things if not more than any other culture. There have been so many contributions to society to western civilization and I feel it is so important that we surround our selves with knowledge of our ancestors because they worked hard to get us to the point today where we are able to vote and the possibility of a black president. The saying that we come from a long line kings and queens is so powerful because it shows you that black really is beautiful and if you retrace our ancestors you will find out that our people were just as important as kings and queens.
Lewis Temple was the inventor of a whaling harpoon called the “Temple’s Toggle” and the “Temple’s Iron. ” He was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1800 and arrived in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1829. He worked as a blacksmith and had lots of friends that were whaler’s who bought harpoons and had lots of conversations with them. Granville T. Wood was known as the black Edison. Woods was born in Columbus, Ohio on April 23,1856. He never finished elementary school and he worked in a machine shop at a very young age. He moved to Missouri in 1872 at the age of sixteen.
By 1881 he opened a factory in Cincinnati, Ohio and manufactured telephone, telegraph and electrical equipment. He filed for his first application for a patent in 1884 for an improved steam-boiler furnace. Woods patented the” telographony ,” a combination of the telegraph and the telephone. He produced one of his most important inventions in 1887, it was called the Synchronous Multiplex Railway Telegraph. It enabled messages to be sent from moving trains and railways stations. In 1890 he set out to improve the lighting system by creating an efficient safe economical dimmer.
It was safer and and resulted in 40% energy savings. Woods also created an overhead conducting system for electrical railways and the electrified third rail. By the time of his death in 1910 he had 150 patents awarded to him all together. Lewis H. L was a pioneer in the development of the electric light bulb. He was also the only black member of the Edison Pioneers, a group of inventors and scientists who worked with Thomas Edison. He was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848 and was raised in Boston. He enlisted in the Navy and served as a cabin boy on the U. S. S Massaoitta the age of sixteen.
Latimer was given the assignment to draw plans for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent . In 1879 Latimer went to work as a draftsman for Hiram Maxim, who invented the machine gun and headed the electric lighting company. Latimer worked on improving the quality of the carbon filament used in the light bulb. In 1882 he received a patent for an improved process for manufacturing carbon filaments. Gerrett is best remembered for his invention of the gas mask and the three way traffic signal. Mogan was born on March 4,1875 in Paris, Kentucky. He left school after fifth grade at the age of fourteen.
He left Kentucky and headed for Cincinnati, Ohio and got a job as a handy man in a sewing shop. Morgan directed his attention to the frequent instances of firemen being overcome by fumes and thick smoke when they went into burning buildings. He perfected breathing device which he patented in 1914. In 1923morgan patented an automatic traffic signal which he sold to the General Electric Company for four thousand dollars. In 1963 Garrett A. Morgan died at ht age of 88 in Cleveland, Ohio after he was ill for two years. Just to name a few ,those were a couple of major contributors to the African American culture and western civilization.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 December 2016
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