Where, When And How African Culture Became A Part Of The Culture Of The Americas

1608 words - 6 pages

Lyra Miranda Morrison
10/20/14
One of the central questions for historians is the degree to which African culture became a part
of the culture of the Americas. Describe where, when and how African culture became a part of the
culture of the Americas.

The United States is often referred to as a melting pot, a nation of immigrants who
all contribute aspects of their native cultures to create a larger American culture. And
not just the United States, but the Americas as a whole consist largely of a blend of
cultures beginning with the "discovery" of the "New World" several centuries ago. Many
historians often inquire about the degree to which African culture became a part of the
larger, European dominated culture of the Americas, as well as when, where and how this
happened.
The simple answer is that the contributions of African culture were formative to
the development of the culture of the Americas, as Africans were in contact with
Europeans from the very beginning of the European settlement of the Americas. Many
came over as slaves, as there was much manual labour required to transform the Americas
into the societies envisioned by European settlers. But many also came from Africa as
explorers, working alongside Europeans to raze the land and cultures of native peoples
and lay the groundwork for Western civilization, as well as the Western system of
chattel slavery, specifically of people of African descent, which would soon begin to
develop.
However, before the culture of the Americas could absorb elements of African
culture, a universal African culture first had to be established. Even to this day, Africa is
not infrequently thought of more as a single entity than the continent of diverse
individual nations and cultures that it is and was. The initial conception of an "African"
culture came about on the slave ships of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, where Africans of
various nationalities, languages, religions and cultures were packed into tight quarters

and sent to the Americas. While their backgrounds were often very different, the terror,
abuse and uncertainty of this journey united them. It has also been said many times and
in many ways that the best way to form an alliance is through the sharing of a common
enemy, and in the case of these Africans this enemy was found in the Europeans who
were tearing them from their respective homelands and sending them to a life of misery
and bondage.
As time and distance further separated African peoples from their homelands, they
were torn from their traditions and native cultures, and were forced to leave behind
many parts of their culture, adapt, and assimilate. While the cultural practices and
traditions of individuals from different nations and tribes may have dissipated, as the
population of Africans in the Americas grew, a unified African culture began to emerge
and strengthen. Once this culture was established, acculturation began to occur and as
Africans became African-Americans, African...

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