There is no doubt that the African Americans had a great influence on America’s socioeconomic aspects before 1877. An African American is a descendant of Africans held captive in America from the year1619 to the year 1865 (John, 41). Blacks who immigrated to America or whose ancestors immigrated to U.S are referred to as African American because of their common historical background, which is predominantly of Central Africa or West African roots, the slavery and Middle passage. However, it is important to note that majority of individuals considered, as African Americans are descendants of slaves sold or kidnapped into slavery by European, Arab, American and African slave traders. The European and American powers exploited the existing African slave market for free labor required in the ‘new world plantations”. In America, the first slaves arrived in 1619 in Virginia’s Jamestown. The British settlers in America treated the slaves as indentured servants before releasing them later after many years. The slaves in America developed unique (their own) customs, religion and family system (Alphonso, 36). Free black population stated to emerge especially in port cities such as Boston and Charleston as some slaves ran away, freed or sold. it is important to note that ancestors of African Americans arrived in the New World as slaves (forcibly brought). Africa plays an important role in the identity of African Americans and influences different aspects or features of African American culture (John, 62).
Historians continue to explore the role played by magic associated with African American culture. Enslaved persons as well as their descendants had certain practices and beliefs of supernaturalism (Sidney, 27). Some of the features of supernaturalism among blacks included spiritual possession, “Voodooism” or uses of Voodoos as well as instances of bewitchment. Oral histories related to African Americans and slaves depict healing and protective conjuration practices/activities associated with slaves. It is important to note that the oral histories equally portray the possession of evil spirits by the blacks. The folk tales portray bewitchment or Voodoo victimization as a punishment for sins. The slaves equally feared the presumed spirits and witches but highly regarded supernatural practitioners within their communities. Evaluating slave understanding of supernaturalism therefore entails embracing their magical practices while reconciling the negative connotation associated with their naturalism.
There is a deep connection between African American and nature as depicted in his respect and understanding of the inexorable life cycle. In this case, African American considers and appreciates the place of humans in the cosmos and nature as the “Big picture”. In the perspective/view of African American, reason alone does not guide the existence of man because imagination and intuition equally play an important role in life. African American appreciates inanimate natural objects and animals. At the heart of African American, philosophy is the seamless flow and harmony of nature. The philosophy perceives humans as a constituent of a harmonious whole, not a malignant nature’s accident or exalted as the most important part of the universe (Sidney, 27).
African American measured time by the changing seasons, sunrises and sunsets and not just by timepieces or clocks. African American views time as a process of life. Understanding the concept of time among to an African American is of great significance if one is to explain an African American’s behaviors and beliefs. African Americans experience time as an individual and through the community (Alphonso, 66). Actual events, which occur, are equivalent to time. An African American examines events occurring around him and looks at past events in order to understand and orient himself. This group of people emphasized on the past, present and immediate future as well as all forms found in the world (Sidney, 27). African Americans believed that the god (who they associated with the sky) plays a very important role in the role and do not meddle in man’s affairs. The belief that a god created the world/universe was string among the slaves who are the ancestors of African Americans.
African Americans considered the universe as the totality of existence. The notion includes galaxies, stars, energy, matter, planets and intergalactic space’s content. The slaves in America centered their belief in High God as creator of the universe. They preferred the “Creator’ to their “to the idol gods which they made for themselves. The “Creator” has immense powers, which influence / govern both the good and evil forces. In the past, African Americans collectively identified themselves as American Negros. Like many other cultures, the African American/black cultures have its unique stories and folk lore pertaining to creation (Darlene, 49).
Morality in the African American culture deals with issues pertaining to proper behavior, character and manners. It serves as a differentiation of actions, decisions and intentions that are right or wrong, good and bad. Their culture, religion and philosophy portray their system of morality. African American therefore associates rightness or goodness with morality while they also associate the evil or bad with immorality (Darlene, 44). As a group, the African Americans cherish and value morality and ethical behavior.
Reason pertains to the human capacity to make sense of events, happenings or things by determining and verifying facts. African American /blacks valued reason as definitive characteristic of one ones nature. Since the days of slavery, reason enabled the African Americans to change their traditions, institutions, beliefs and attitudes overtime thus enabling them to pursue self-determination and freedom. However, it is important to note that intuition, imagination and faith played a role in determining an individual’s behavior or action. Logic entails attempting to describe the norms or rules that support reason. Logic helped the African Americans understand the rationality of thought, behavior or actions. The African Americans considered human beings as rational beings who equally have a strong belief in supernatural being (God).
African Americans had a certain degree of belief in fate as fortune or something that befalls an individual unavoidably (Sidney, 27). In their culture, fate deals with the ultimate agency or universal principle that determines how things happen. During difficulties and unfortunate circumstances that would befall an individual or a group, African American would attribute such occurrences to fate. Confronted by challenges, which they could not overcome, an individual or group would let fate determine the course of events. It is important to note that they attributed ruin, destruction and death to fate. Luck / fortune is the other significant concept among the African Americans. This is because they believed in luck or fortune. In this, they believed that most successful people in the society were born lucky while the some of the unsuccessful persons were simply unlucky.
Since the colonial era, racism in America was a key concern in America. Since the slave era, legally sanctioned racism burdened African Americans while their European American counterparts enjoyed certain privileges by law in terms of citizenship, voting rights, immigration and literacy, criminal procedure and land acquisitions (John, 32). The historical racism and legal prejudices since the 17th century contributed to the inequality in American society. While within their communities African Americans respected the rule of law, they equally grew discontented with the legal system that supported or perpetuated racial prejudice thus leading to anti racism and civil rights movements among the African Americans.
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