Cultures, Subcultures And Education Essay

2823 words - 11 pages

Despite their ignorance of black history, sociologists anticipated one of the ideas of contemporary researchers in arguing that race is a cultural construct rather than a biological reality and that therefore it's meaning changes over time. Having agreed that race is culturally determined; scholars needed next to understand how African-American culture differed from cultures created by other Americans. The answer is a simple one: Of the many subcultures in the United States, only the African-American one was produced by slaves. It is an unhappy characteristic of U.S. history that many groups have been subjected to discrimination, exploitation, and oppression, but except for a period of time, ending for the most part by 1750, when Native Americans were enslaved, only blacks were made slaves. With the exception of a short period in the seventeenth century when the large number of African males was housed together in barracks, most black Americans lived in family units much like other American families. But this similarity is deceiving, for each slave family contained an invisible and all-powerful family member, the slaveholder.It was the slaveholder who decided whether or not a man and woman who wished to be married would be formally married or even allowed to live together. When children were born, it was the slaveholder, not the parents, who decided whether the children would be taught to read, whether they would be taught a skill, and whether they would be baptized, and if they were baptized whether it would be in the church of the parents or one selected by their owner. He decided whether the family would remain together, for he could and did sell husband away from wife and children away from parents. Unlike our nation's other racial and ethnic groups, slaves could own no property. By law, slaves could not pass on the benefits of their labor to their children; all they produced benefited the slaveholder and his children. Some slaveholders did allow slaves to pass on to their children a Bible, a musical instrument, a tool box, a quilt, or some such, but they were not required to do so. The children of slaves could inherit neither material goods nor property.Despite lacking property and material goods, the slaves constructed a culture in which men and women respected one another. Martin Luther King, Jr., envisioned a time when persons would be judged by "the content of their character and not by the color of their skin." King was urging all other Americans to do what slavery forced blacks to do: to make behavior the basis of respect. The slaves respected those who cared for children, deferred to the elderly, loved and served God, and contributed to the community. The last of these was difficult because the slave community was different from other U.S. racial and ethnic communities, which were organized to serve the people who lived within them. The slave community was intended not to serve its inhabitants, but its owner.Reflectivity was one of...

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