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Africanisms in America

  • Date Submitted: 03/23/2011 12:50 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 37.3 
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Africanisms in America

Joseph E. Holloway describes Africanisms as “those elements of culture found in the New World that are traceable to an African origin” (Holloway 2). In my opinion, Africanisms are the traditions and cultural behaviors of African Americans that resemble the traditions and cultures of Africa. Remarkably, African Americans have retained an essence of Africa in their speech, hair care, preparation of foods and beliefs over centuries of separation from the Dark Continent. Nearly four hundred years of slavery in America could not destroy the Africanisms imbedded in African Americans.

To be truthful, without a doubt many Africanisms have been lost in translation due to the brutality of American slavery that demanded slaves leave behind their “pagan” beliefs and traditions in place of Eurocentric ones. Also, such a wide range of African people were enslaved together, with differing languages, beliefs, and traditions that the common culture amongst slaves was that of the slave master and oppressors in which they encountered daily.

Melville Herskovits and E. Franklin Frazier debated on whether or not African Americans had lost all of their Africanisms due to the severity of American slavery (Holloway 3).   Frazier held on to a belief that African Americans had lost their African heritage more than any other group of Black people enslaved in the New World. He says that “because of the manner in which the Negroes were captured in Africa and enslaved, they were practically stripped of their African heritage” (Holloway 3).

In his opinion, American slavery tore apart African social structure along with the institution of the Black family due to trade of human beings like cargo. Blacks were immersed in white culture due to its proximity and thus new, non-African ideals and behaviors were formed by Blacks (Holloway 3).

In my opinion, to believe that African Americans hold no Africanisms at all requires one to be blind to the cultural...

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