African American History Essay

2235 words - 9 pages

African American History

During my early years of school, I remember being taught white accomplishments and wondering if blacks and other people of color had made any significant contributions to today's world. I noticed that television consist of all white people. Throughout my research paper I hope to cover certain aspects of African American heritage. Aspects such as blacks making up the largest minority group in the United States, although Mexican-Americans are rapidly changing that. The contributions blacks have provided to our country are immeasurable. Unfortunately though rather than recognizing these contributions, white America would rather focus on oppressing and degrading these people. As a consequence American society instinctively associated white with light and all good things; while black is associated with darkness or evil.
The journey to freedom for African Americans all started in 1619 when the first twenty African slaves were brought to Jamestown to serve a land not familiar with, in order to please wealthy white settlers. For the next 150 years, Africans were uprooted from their homeland and shipped across the Atlantic ocean to the United States to be sold as if they were property in America. The majority of these slaves were imported between 1741 and 1810. By 1790 blacks made up over 19% of the U.S. population.
Although slaves had different cultural backgrounds, they all shared a common way of looking at the world. The degradation and brutality of slavery caused these different tribal groups to seek out common cultural ground in order to survive the horrible experience of slavery. The common ground that slaves endured revolved around kinship and the idea of stoicism. The idea of stoicism may be a result of harsh physical conditions in Africa. Kinship was by far the most important element in the African culture. Individuality was not stressed but rather the importance of the extended family. I believe that African Americans suffering through the hardships of slavery strengthened the idea of kinship even further. The unity of the African culture became strong due to a series of trials and tribulations.
The majority of the slaves were employed in agricultural areas in the South. By the mid-19th century, a large number of slaves worked in urban areas as well, and about 5% worked in more industrial occupations. The hours of the slave workers were long. The average life expectancy of African slaves was at least 12% lower than whit Americans in 1850 and the infant mortality rate was 25% higher for slaves. Oftentimes slave marriages and families dissolved due to separation. This concept is horrible when you take under consideration that family was the entire basis of African culture.
Although frequent separation occurred slaves were very careful to pass on the surnames of their black family of origin to their children. Kinship again is an importance in African society.
Although the first steps...

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