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African American Slave Culture, Application Essay Example

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Application Essay

            Europe’s racist tendencies towards African’s during the Transatlantic Slave period stemmed from a lack of their ability to understand a culture so different from their own. A major anthropological consideration in studying racism is the concept of ethnocentricity; many societies’ asses other cultures using their own values and believe their own way of life to be superior. Before the Transatlantic Slave period, the Europeans had not had much interaction with the Africans; therefore the behaviors, beliefs, values, and language they observed greatly shocked them because they were so unfamiliar. As a result, Jordan claims in “First Impressions that the Europeans believed the Africans to be savage, heathenistic, beastly, and inferior. In order to fully understand racism in a historical context, it is necessary to interpret the reasoning behind Europe’s feelings of inferiority towards the African community.

Although racism always has negative effects on the targeted societies, none were as extreme as the suffering faced by slaves during the Transatlantic Period. Many African people were taken from their homes by Europeans to be sold to the Americas as property. During the voyage, fed an inadequate amount of food, and not provided with an acceptable amount of living space; they were treated cruelly and many died before reaching the Americas. Onshore, these monstrosities continue; they were forced to work for little or no pay, punished for no legitimate reason, and killed if they tried to escape. What caused the Europeans to think that this behavior was acceptable?

In “Migration and Culture”, Thomas Sowell demonstrates that when people are exposed to new and seemingly different cultures, they instantly panic and decide to find ways in which they are superior. According to Bobbie Haro in “The Cycle of Socialization”, the immediate reasons behind this are noticeable differences in physical and social features; in this case, skin color, clothing, and religion played a major role in provoking the Europeans. Since the Europeans were born with a different sense of innate social identity, they became fearful as a result of their ignorance of this culture. Therefore to remain the dominant group with correct principles, the European’s sought to control the Africans in order to make them into a more “civilized people”. Before and during the Transatlantic Slave period, Europeans attempted to convert the Africans into Christianity, teach English and other European languages, provide them with European clothing, give them a “proper” education, and educate them on mannerisms.

This was a major issue for many Africans; although some accepted the new culture that the European’s were trying to impose, others resisted and even sacrificed their lives for the protection of their own history and ways of life. Fortunately, the Europeans were unable to completely erase African culture from modern African American tendencies. Although modern African American behaviors, beliefs, values, and language aren’t identical to that of their forefathers, African Americans have done a good job of uniquely preserving some aspects of these cultural traits.

Even though many African Americans living in the United States have been successfully influenced by the Europeans to speak English, practice Christianity, and adopt European mannerisms, they were unable to successfully change the values of the African American people. African American families living in the United States currently and always will have close families, value religion, and enjoy music. Of particularly interest is the African American church going tradition; anyone who has been to an African American church in addition to a white European church knows the difference between how the two communities worship the same god and practice the same religion.

Historically, the “black church” was formed as a response to segregation; since African Americans weren’t allowed to worship alongside white people, they formed their own congregations. This practice has evolved into a unique and exciting way of worship that has worked more than any single factor to preserve African culture in the daily lives of African Americans. African American church worship involves important attributes of the original African culture that include call and response, gospel, and emphasis on the importance of community.

Even though gospel had evolved as a primarily African American practice, there are many white Europeans and Americans who appreciate these works of art in worship. African American gospel has a unique twist on the European and American versions and allows people to worship god in a way that is more fun and exciting. In addition, there is a big market for gospel artists; one can easily go to a music store and buy these recordings for their use and listening outside of church. Therefore, it is easy to see that while African culture was once considered barbaric by Europeans, it is now embraced by their descendants. Since African American culture and European culture have been integrated for so long, it was only natural for the two to combine and influence one another.

In conclusion, many African values traditions, and beliefs have survived the Transatlantic Slave period and continue to be practiced by African Americans today. In addition, many Americans and Europeans have now learned to understand African culture and that although it is different from their own set of beliefs and values; it is beautiful in its own way. European Americans and African Americans have exchanged many cultural ideas and now live in a fully integrated society. Thankfully because of this, African traditions will continue to live on and be adapted by many in this country.

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