The issue of slavery in the United States has been hotly debated for centuries. Historians continuously squabble over the causes and effects of America’s capitalistic, industrial form of slavery. But two of the most heavily discussed questions are whether the institution of slavery destroyed African culture in America, and whether it reduced slaves to a child-like state of dependency and incompetence. Anthropologist Melville Herskovits, and historian Stanley Elkins both weigh in on this debate: Herskovits with, The Myth of the Negro Past, and Elkins with, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life. In, Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life, Elkins asserts that African culture was all but destroyed by a repression of the slaves’ rights, at the hands of their masters. He claims that complete dependence on their masters and a lack of collective cultural identity and family bonds, reduced slaves to a child-like state of helplessness and ignorance, and childish behavior called the ‘Sambo’. Herskovits takes a different stance in this debate. In, The Myth of the Negro Past, he claims that African culture was not completely destroyed by slavery, and that the ‘Sambo’ stereotype was no more than a myth or at least a gross generalization. He uses slave revolts and the persistence of African culture in American in music, dance, and language as evidence to prove this. Stanley Elkins argues in, Slavery: A Problem in American
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Though slavery is taught throughout ones education, the severeness of it isn’t usually explained how the documentary Africans in America: The Terrible Transformation explains it. Throughout school, students typically don’t examine how the racial prejudice that was associated with slavery was horrific in so many different ways. This documentary allows viewers to be
The article “The Negro Digs Up His Past’’ by Arthur schomburg on 1925, elaborates more on the struggles of slavery as well as how history tend to be in great need of restoration through mindfully exploring on the past. The article, however started with an interesting sentence which caught my attention, especially when the writer says ‘’The American Negro must remark his past in order to make his future’’ (670). This statement according the writer, explains how slavery took away the great deal freedom from people of African descendant, through emancipation and also increase in diversity. The writer (Arthur Schomburg) however, asserts that “the negro has been throughout the centuries of controversy an active collaborator, and often a pioneer, in the struggle for his own freedom and advancement” (670).
In Peter Kolchin’s widely acclaimed novel, American Slavery, he evaluates the development of slavery in the New World, which is one of the most debated issues in American history. In his novel, he yolks together the work of many historians with conflicting views to form a balanced and precise view of slavery. He researched primary source evidence, such as quotes from masters and slaves in the 1700s, to obtain the roots of enslavement in America. The success of his novel is often credited to the fact that he is one of the first authors to produce a historical synthesis on racial slavery in the United States. Moreover, his book uniquely spans all the way from the origins of slavery to its demise after the civil war.
In 1928 Ulrich B. Phillips wrote an argumentative essay about the reasons for the massive support that slavery received from both slaveowners and Southerners who didn’t possess slaves. The essay was well-received and supported by critics in the 1930-s. However, closer to 1950-s critics started doubting the objectivity of Phillip’s writing. It’s important to note that Ulrich B. Phillips is a white historian from the South, writing from a perspective of a white Southerner. When he was writing his article he failed to step back from his bias and provide fully objective support for the main theme of his argument, setting a doubt to the reliability of his work.
Why do we hate? Why do we lie? Why do we forget? Three questions provide a strong explanation of how African Americans were treated, whether it was the use of verbal or physical abuse. These questions also describes how African Americans were implied into education. Authors wrote many issues regarding the ignorance and abolishment of slavery in more of a “Whites” perspective to teach the American society what they want to hear and not what actually happened. And further more, forgotten sources. Some want to forget was has happened over the course of our time, some want to hide the truth of how this has affected society and the race around us. Three documents were discussed with hidden facts and deep recognition of what is the truth behind
Author Viktor Osinubi states in his article, “Privileging the African Metaphysics of Presence in American Slave Culture”, “American slavery, like many perverse institutions, developed a peculiar culture of fear and oppression, and thousands of slaves had to learn how to navigate this culture for their survival”.
There are those in America who believe that it is time we move past the deep complex feelings towards the cultural repercussions of slavery. Much like the modern-day, Germans feel in their association with the murders and tragedies after World War II, many Americans – especially white American – want to feel an understandable disassociation from the white Americans who propagated slavery. Thus calling this unbearable reminder of the past “white guilt” and marginalizing slavery as a mistake of a much more ignorant time. Many Americans object to the ongoing studies of the conditions that caused slavery (Bardis, White Guilt). This is a tremendous mistake, and the memoirs of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Ann Jacobs exemplifies why it is essential that this time-period is studied and be understood by all current and future generations of Americans.
Slavery is a contradictory subject in American history because “one hears…of the staid and gentle patriarchy, the wide and sleepy plantations with lord and retainers, ease and happiness; [while] on the other hand on hears of barbarous cruelty and unbridles power and wide oppression of men” (Dubois 2). Dubois’s The Negro in the United States is an autoethnographic text which is a representation “that the so-defined others
Melville Herskovits, the author of The Myth of Negro Past, spoke of many cultural characteristics shared between Africans in his book. His main goal was to tackle the myth of the past of African Americans, which is that we have no past at all. Herskovits uses this book to go into detail about the African traditions that have survived the years. The most prominent African cultural aspects that have endured time are evident in African American family life, as well as in marriage traditions seen in the New World.
53. Gutman convincingly argues that the stability of the Black family encouraged the transmission of -and also was cruicial in sustaining- the Black heritage of folklore, music and religious expression from one generation to another, a heritage that slaves were continuingly fashioning out of their African and American ecperiences.
Abstractly, an unnatural doctrine utilized to reinstate supremacy and power has become one of mankind’s biggest anomalies. Slavery, defined as the practice of ownership of a people or persons, has proclaimed itself to be a prevalent institution in the history of the Americas, considering its duration spanned over centuries. The manipulation and application of race was used to categorize mankind into levels of humanity based on different pigmentations of the skin, with the level of humanity decreasing as the darkness of the skin increased. This simplistic theory was used as pseudoscientific evidence to subdue the African population of the Americas to bondage. And, although this type of slavery is thought to be bygone in the western hemisphere, it is still pervasive in one of its most historical forms: the subjugation of the black population to supreme white society − perhaps not physically, but mentally. Thought by many to be a physical institution, slavery has proved to be much more than that; for if slavery was merely physical, the African population in the Americas would have been able to restore itself economically, socially, culturally, intellectually, etc. within a generation of abolition. Rather, modern society, has suspended much of its capabilities to a culture centuries old with the intention of establishing longevity in white supremacy.
Individualism, this topic immediately made my mind start going through a great amount of information, even before diving into the textbook. I must state there are vast differences, for instance our military strives to retain the best and the prospective occupations are endless; however, less than 1 percent of the nation serves in the military. To me this speaks volumes, how even though most are proud to display opinions or debate their views, but most will not serve for the country that fights for those rights. America is undoubtedly a melting pot of cultural differences and allowing others to become a member of this nation.
Achille Mbembe articulates how slavery results from a loss of home, loss of rights over one’s body, and loss of one’s political rights. This degrades the person to only retaining the value of being a property whose master dictates their life. Yet, the plantation world they live in gives them an alternative perspective that allows them stylize and adapt to a life possessed by another. Slavery takes away personal freedom and gives power over someone’s life to another, forcing a unique lifestyle that molds a person to be able to survive such a condition.
African- American folklore is debatably the origin for most African- American literature. In a country where as late as the 1860’s there were laws prohibiting the teaching of slaves, it was essential for the
Jeremy Black has recently stated ‘slavery played a major role in the twentieth century.’ The twentieth century, he argues, witnessed a highpoint in slavery as it rose to a new peak. He defines slavery as being ‘public’ which differs from the ‘conventional account of enslavement, economic exploitation and racism.’ For Black, the conventional account of slavery has been ‘easier to define and confront.’ This dissertation through the work of three authors: Buchi Emecheta, Ayi Kwei Armah and Tayeb Salih aims to act as a corrective to approaches similar to Black’s theory, that slavery has been easily defined, by demonstrating the tension between remembering and forgetting history. The twentieth century narratives trace the history of the Atlantic slave trade through contemporary Africa, reflecting the role of slavery in present day. The works unearth remnants of the past in order to locate African memories in literature and bring them forth from the margins of history. Each author originates from different geographical locations in Africa, which allows various forms of slavery to emerge in the narratives, representing slavery as continuing to haunt the African psyche.