In the space of the slave quarters, parents passed on lessons of loyalty; messages about how to treat people; and stories of family genealogy. It was in the quarters that children watched adults create potions for healing, or select plants to produce dye for clothing.
It was here too, that adults whispered and cried about their impending sale by owners. Family separation through sale was a constant threat. Enslaved people lived with the perpetual possibility of separation through the sale of one or more family members. A multitude of scenarios brought about sale. An enslaved person could be sold as part of an estate when his owner died, or because the owner needed to liquidate assets to pay off debts, or because the owner thought the enslaved person was a troublemaker.
A father might be sold away by his owner while the mother and children remained behind, or the mother and children might be sold. These decisions were, of course, beyond the control of the people whose lives they affected most. Sometimes an enslaved man or woman pleaded with an owner to purchase his or her spouse to avoid separation. The intervention was not always successful. Historian Michael Tadman has estimated that approximately one third of enslaved children in the upper South states of Maryland and Virginia experienced family separation in one of three possible scenarios: The fear of separation haunted adults who knew how likely it was to happen.
Young children, innocently unaware of the possibilities, learned quickly of the pain that such separations could cost. Many owners encouraged marriage to protect their investment in their slaves. Paradoxically, despite the likelihood of breaking up families, family formation actually helped owners to keep slavery in place. Owners debated among themselves the benefits of enslaved people forming families. Many of them reasoned that having families made it much less likely that a man or woman would run away, thus depriving the owner of valuable property.
Some owners honored the choices enslaved people made about whom their partners would be; other owners assigned partners, forcing people into relationships they would not have chosen for themselves. Abolitionists attacked slavery by pointing to the harm it inflicted upon families. Just as owners used the formation of family ties to their own advantage, abolitionists used the specter of separation to argue against the institution of slavery.
Frederick Douglass, who was enslaved in Maryland before he escaped to Massachusetts and became an abolitionist stridently working to end slavery, began the narrative of his life by examining "Eliza comes to tell Uncle Tom that he is sold and that she is running away to save her baby. Further, he lived with his grandmother, while his mother lived and worked miles away, walking to see him late at night. In his narrative, aimed at an abolitionist audience, Douglass suggested that slaveowners purposefully separated children from their parents in order to blunt the development of affection between them.
Abolitionists such as Douglass and Stowe argued that slavery was immoral on many grounds, and the destruction of families was one of them. Following the Civil War, when slavery finally ended in America after nearly two hundred and fifty years, former slaves took measures to formalize their family relations , to find family members, and to put their families back together.
During slavery, many people formed new families after separation, but many of them also held on to memories of the loved ones they had lost through sale. Starting in , hundreds of people placed advertisements in newspapers searching for family members.
Parents returned to the places from which they had been sold to take their children from former owners who wanted to hold on to them to put them to work. And, thousands of African American men and women formalized marriages now that it was possible to do so. Some married the person with whom they had lived during slavery, while others legalized new relationships.
I find that the most exhilarating and meaningful discussions occur when students have an opportunity to engage with primary sources. Working with documents helps students to develop analytical and investigative skills and can give them a sense of how historians come to their understandings of the past.
Interacting directly with documents can also help students to retain information and ideas. I offer a few primary sources here that should stimulate discussion and help students to imagine what life may have been like in the past. As English colonists began the process of putting slavery into place, they paid careful attention to family arrangements among enslaved people. Legislators in Virginia and Massachusetts passed laws in the s making clear that the rules would be different for slaves and that family would not offer protection from slavery.
Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, and that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.
Students will likely find the language of this statute a bit confusing, but will also enjoy deciphering it. Depending on the age and maturity of your students and the strictures of your school district, you may want to cut the last section regarding fornication. You can have an interesting discussion here about the role of the state or colony in this case in determining who would be a slave and who would be free. Ask students why they think slaveowners, many of whom were represented in colonial legislatures, would have wanted this provision.
How did it help them? What concerns were they attempting to satisfy here? However, it is necessary to mention that nowadays Blacks have made considerable progress in this sphere of life and attained certain achievements in education. Nowadays, it is possible to notice such a tendency that more and more African Americans finish schools and graduate from universities, thus increasing the number of literate people among their communities. The causes of this increase and its impact will be discussed later in this essay.
There are several aspects of life of African Americans, which allow identifying them as community. The first one of them is culture, which is considered to be rather plentiful in social tradition. African American culture was always distinguished by strong family relations, very close interplay and support towards each other among the members of their social group. All these features help to define African American community from any other one.
Black identity development has been linked to the extent to which young people associate with the cultural context of being Black. Research has demonstrated that the more that African Americans relate to their own Blackness, the more that they feel a responsibility and an affinity to the group . A feeling of affiliation with community and strong interaction with all of its members serve as the basis of the peculiarity of Black community. Membership of community has been always more important to African Americans than the feeling of individualism and competition among its members.
Jagers and Mock have talked about Afro-cultural communalism. This communalism is the tendency of African Americans toward collectivist orientation or the preference for interdependence among people. Students who are driven by this communalistic orientation cannot describe themselves in individualistic terms. In fact, much of their self-identity is grounded in their social concern for, and need to be with, others .
Being a member of community young African Americans always relate themselves to it, because as it has been mentioned above, individualism is not a characteristic feature of Black community. This feeling of community is easily noticed in the field of education of African Americans. Very often bright students don not consider their academic abilities high, because comparing not individually, but as a group in whole.
There are several reasons for that. First of all the root of such difference lies in constant racial segregation of African Americans from the rest of the population, which led to obvious differences in education.
Historically, African American students never had the same educational opportunities as White students and, therefore, started out at a different place altogether.
African Americans began with a system that banned their participation altogether and that later provided limited access, but only as a matter of law, not as a commonly accepted practice.
The Portuguese, Dutch, and British controlled most of the Atlantic slave trade. Most Africans taken to North America came from the various cultures of western and west central Africa. The territories that are now Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria were the origins of most slaves brought to North America, although significant numbers also came from the areas that are now Senegal, Gambia, and Angola. These areas were home to diverse linguistic, ethnic, and religious groups.
Most of the people enslaved were subsistence farmers and raised livestock. Their agricultural and pastoral skills made them valuable laborers in the Americas.
To transport the captured Africans to the Americas, Europeans loaded them onto specially constructed ships with platforms below deck designed to maximize the numbers of slaves that could be transported. Africans were confined for two to three months in irons in the hold of a slave ship during the crossing of the Atlantic Ocean called the Middle Passage.
The meager diet of rice, yams, or beans and the filthy conditions created by overcrowding resulted in a very high death rate. Many ships reached their destinations with barely half their cargo of slaves still alive to sell into forced labor in the Americas. The ship had started out with about captives, but it had run into extremely bad weather.
When the ship finally put into Jamestown, it had only 20 surviving Africans to sell to the struggling colony.
African American essays Being African American has never been easy. White America has always been stereotypical of black people, although blacks have shaped American history through inventions, sports, and political science.
- African-American Women: Gender and Race Introduction African-American women have often been an overlooked group with the larger context of American Society. Historically, oppression has been meted out to the African-American woman in two ways.
Oct 02, · Essay on African American Culture Works Cited Missing African American culture is defined as the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms, and life ways carried by this group of people, which guides their decisions, thinking, and actions in patterned ways. This was the first step in the full nationalization of the African American population(2). The Klu Klux Klan is the oldest organization. During this time ’s, there were still .
African American Culture. African American culture, also known as black culture, is not as one-dimensional as it is made out to be. In fact, if you look at it from the perspective of someone who belongs to this culture, they face a dilemma when it comes to deciding which one is the “real” thing. African Americans in the s * “Cast down your bucket where you are. Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes ” – Booker T. Washington, Atlanta Compromise Throughout US history, there is an abundance of racism, segregation and discrimination towards the African American people.