Adapting, Coping, and Evolving: Slavery and Vodun
Author of “The Negro Family”, E. Franklin Frazier believed that the centrality of the Bible, structure of Black worship, and notion of God that evolved from the invisible institution to the Black Church was a confirmation of the power of white power. He contends that these developments were adaptive methods used by slaves to worship in a confined space. However, Frazier’s beliefs are undermined by Gayraud S. Wilmore’s description of Vodun in his book Black Religion and Black Radicalism. While admittedly Vodun’s organization was probably “infiltrated by Roman Catholicism” and exhibited some white influences, the ultimate goal of New World Africans in practicing Vodun was to adapt and…show more content… Vodun’s ability to adapt allowed slaves to tailor religion to cope with what they endured, experienced, and lived in their daily lives. This psychological aspect of religion, according to Frazier, would have been sculpted and mocked by white influence as a desperate attempt to make sense of their position in society. However, New World Africans harness Vodun “as a response to the demoralizing conditions of slavery and one means by which slaves made some adjustment to the condition of their bondage” (43). This centrality of the Bible, provides hope of salvation, and undermines Frazier’s idea that it was brought upon by white influence. Additionally, Vodun laid the foundation of in the future of Black religion, while being rooted in strains of previous religions, instead of the creation of a new establishment based on white influences. Coping eventually led to politically organizing to become their own change in different parts of the world.
The evolutionary capability of Vodun to change over time from a religious capacity to a political one is one of the strong points of the religion. In fact, the infringement of white influence on Black religion was a response to the development of Vodun. New World Africans consistently evolved and changed Vodun over time by continuously incorporating different aspects of white influence, such as the centrality of the Bible and the belief in one supreme God; in