The Pre-Slavery Era – Elements of African American Identity https://elementsofafricanamericanidentity.word Slave culture in North America was largely a combination of tribal African culture, Christian worship and resistance. American slave culture was based on defiance and survival against the American slave system. American slaves practiced other forms of resistance like running away, suicide, slow paces of work, deliberate sabotage of the plantation equipment or crops, and poisoning of their slave masters. In all of these instances, slave culture enabled a ELEMENTS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN IDENTITY PAGE 3 significant amount of resistance to the plantation economy and created a relatively cohesive slave identity that shaped the southern life and relationships between slaves and whites in the colonial era. Although the treatment of slaves varied depending on the plantation more often than not it was characterized by brutality.
Displacement, in its various manifestations, can refer to a sense of being physically, socially or culturally out of place. It is associated with a sense of loss, alienation, and dislocation depending on the contextual circumstances in which it happens, and can take many forms like migration, exile, enslavement, imprisonment, diaspora and travel. The Black diaspora constituted by the displacement across the globe, particularly across the Atlantic, signifies the physical and cultural dislocation which transformed both the individual and collective identities of the African denizens. Its implications are often explored in narratives of historical and cultural interrogation, revision and reconfigurations, through the discourses of pan-Africanism, Black Nationalism and Afrocentricity. The globalized black experience, informed by collective cultural identity, shared history, common experience of racial oppression and marginalization by racist ideologies, is represented in narratives transforming it into a discourse of subversion and resistance.
In the contemporary era, the issue of race remains a prevalent topic in public discussion. Thus, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is meaningful as it explores the legacy of racial injustice in the United States and its consequences in today’s society. In his development of the underground railroad as a literal and physical vehicle to freedom, Whitehead is able to candidly detail the ubiquitous nature of racial prejudice and the horrors associated with it. Over the course of his novel, the author utilizes a variety of rhetorical devices in order to further explore the many hardships that ‘freedom’ inevitably entails. In particular, Whitehead’s use of imagery, character interactions and Aristotelian appeals brings to attention aspects of race relations that were and are still often misunderstood or disregarded by society.
Toni Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon is an examination on the importance of self-identity in African-American society and the effects of a name. Names and labels are used to describe and symbolize people, places, and things, serving as a brief definition of the subject. Toni Morrison uses this definition in order to analyze the effects redefining or naming had on African Americans heritage and culture after their emancipation. Throughout the story, the central protagonist Macon Dead III or Milkman, searches his family’s history to reclaim his past and recreate himself. America’s history of slavery and it’s lasting effects have allowed African-American society and cultural identity to be dictated by the white majority.
These texts draw parallels to the current state of media; both use a common channel to express differing portrayals. Simms’s “Caloya” and Frederick Douglass’s Narrative both utilize the antagonists, Mingo in “Caloya” and slave owners in Narrative, however, “Caloya” focuses on Mingo’s race and supposed natural tendencies to represent black men as sex hungry, while Narrative focuses on slave owners’ abuse of power to gain sexual favors to represent white men as sexually crude. Through these representations, each author creates an underlying portrayal of slavery: Simms portrays slavery as a necessary system
However, as a descendant of slaves, I cannot pinpoint what part of Africa I came from. Overall, my cultural identity comes from the idea or notion that we have developed an African American culture by fusing imported slave and American culture together to fit our experience of life in America (Ritter, 2017). Therefore, my cultural
African-American author Toni Morrison 's book, Beloved, describes a black culture born out of a dehumanising period of slavery just after the Civil War. Culture is a means of how a group collectively believe, act, and interact on a daily basis. Those who have studied her work refer to Morrison 's narrative tales as “literature…that addresses the sacred and as an allegorical representation of black experience” (Baker-Fletcher 1993: 2). Although African Americans had a difficult time establishing their own culture during the period of slavery when they were considered less than human, Morrison believes that black culture has been built on the horrors of the past and it is this history that has shaped contemporary black culture in a positive way. Through the use of linguistic devices, her representation of black women, imagery and symbolic features, and the theme of interracial relations, Morrison illustrates that black culture that is resilient, vibrant, independent, and determined.
August wilson's play Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a powerful play that portrays the experience of slavery in the past of African Americans society. This play strongly shows life of black Americans through several different characters, which can be seen as a one whole community of theirs. A clear picture is shown of how they had to fight in order to regain their existence and real identity(not as slaves) in the real world society. So, in the play, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, August Wilson presents a few subject matter of displacement, racial discrimination and pursuit of identity. This play does not exactly falls exactly into one particular single genre of drama , but the best we can say is that it is a hybrid of Tragedy, Melodrama,Comedy and Farce.
As one begins their journey on the open road, discoveries are made, new people are met, and life is fully changed. The thought of freedom comes to mind when describing the United States but comparing modern times to the past would not be effective. Freedom did not occur until after slavery passes through. There were many individuals who made an impact. Fredrick Douglass was an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman who wrote My Bondage and Freedom which expressed his struggles and reflections about slavery.
“It [the Harlem Renaissance] was a time of black individualism, a time marked by a vast array of characters whose uniqueness challenged the traditional inability of white Americans to differentiate between blacks” (Price, ). This quote by Price describes a pivotal time in American history where African Americans were able to show their true selves. America has a long history of oppressing African Americans. It began when slave ships carried Africans to America before the founding of the country. After the Civil War slaves were freed, but were restricted by the way society treated them.