Essay, Research Paper
?African Americans in the Colonial Era?
An African American is an American of African descent. In the book ?African Americans in the Colonial Era?, told is how this descends came about. When Africans were brought from Africa to the new world to become slaves, many changes occurred in their culture. Among these changes in culture, has emerged a new race. The African American.
When slavery began in English North America, nearly all the slaves came from the coast and interior of West and West Central Africa. ?A few came from the Mozambique coast or Madagascar, around the Cape of Good Hope?. In coming to the Americas, these Africans kept religion as the heart of their culture. ?African slaves came to the New World with strong religious beliefs and thoughts of the afterlife. But religious belief is personal and often developed individually, and the private world of the religion was a sanctuary which slaves could turn during periods of anxiety and stress that were such a large part of their lives. African religions, of course, were not all alike, but West and West-Central Africans held some patterns of beliefs in common.? Slaves arrived here hoping to continue their own religious beliefs but forced upon them, although not by all landowners, was the Christian religion. ?In the New World, blacks received Christian teaching in more or less strenuous doses at times and in various locales.? With this noted, it is hard to conceive the idea that they would have even done this to these slaves.
In the vast majority of blacks from Africa relied on one of two basic modes of subsistence: pastoralism or agriculture. The herdsman would keep their cattle, sheep or goats, on the northern and southern extremes of the Atlantic?s slave gathering area. Farmers around the savannas north or south of the equatorial forests grew rice, millet, sorghum, or maize. The more heavily wooded areas nearer the equator grew yams and manioc or harvested bananas, plantains, or palm products. ?Some of these distinctions are not so important when one considers that Senegalese millet farmers, Nigerian yam farmers and Angolan maize farmers used similar methods of cultivation, mostly variations of slash and burn, or that herders of the savannas often lived in close, symbiotic relationships with grain farmers, exchanging products from their animals (including dung for fuel and fertilizer) for foodstuffs for themselves and their livestock.? It was good that these methods were that used over here because they had little changed from Africa.
The African family was were the community began. It was also the place for educating and socializing the young. ?If adults were to create and adhere to common values and customs it was the family that transferred these to subsequent generations.? Relationships with other slaves brought over were destroyed once the voyage across land was over. If a kid was riding in the ship alone and not knowing anyone he might call a nice adult ?uncle? or ?aunt.? Marriages did take place thru the Christian church. These were often called ?Negro marriages? and considered part of the norm. Not many masters thought it was important to bother with the legality in these slave marriages. ?Yet in spite of the difficulties they faced, it is probably inaccurate to describe slave marriages or slave families as ?unstable? with the implication that contemporary white marriages and families were necessarily more ?stable.? Better than anyone at the time or since, slaves knew how tenuous was their family stability and security.? Ties between black partners, parents and all siblings and even distant kin a generation or more apart tended to be strong. Having been uprooted from their African land, the slaves had a slight ease coming over with the new families they made. Plantation life being laborious and strenuous, the blacks looked to family for comfort and security. This probably made the whole 180-degree turn from freedman to slave a little more bearable.
When the Africans arrived in the new colonies their nutritional intake status was that of poor. They lived a nutritional nightmare. The result of this malnutrition was diseases many that were largely foreign to whites. Some of these were rickets, pica, (often called ?dirt eating?), hookworm, and pellagra (?black tongue?). ?Of course malnutrition often made slaves more susceptible to common disease and made them more vulnerable to secondary infections once they had been wounded or had acquired a common ailment.? On the other hand there were also diseases that the slaves were immune to. ?Overlooked for many years were the epidemiological difficulties slaves experienced when marched from one African disease environment to another.? Such environments included savannas where sleeping sickness could have been contracted in the forests, drier and higher areas caught malaria or yellow fever in the wetter lowlands, and different strains of influenza and other diseases often lurked in regions even closer to their original homes. ? Death rates varied across the slave-trading area and through time; they are impossible to estimate with accuracy. It is clear, however, that the African man, woman, or child sold to a ship captain for conveyance to the new world was already a survivor.?
In conclusion, you can see the changes in the black culture that these blacks unfortunately had to go thru. These changes occurred in religion, ways of subsistence, family life, disease matters, and many more. The religion forced upon them was hard to handle and ways of living seemed to that of little indifference than that in Africa. The family lives here in Colonial America improved because of the culture that was brought over from Africa. Without it, many black slaves could not have survived the hardships they were facing. The diseases had a great affect on the white folk as well as the black. The diseases that the blacks were immune to helped them survive longer here in America. Other changes did occur in the African culture that came with the black slaves, but I feel I have highlighted the main ones that played an important role in the forming of the African American.