Intro to Afro-American Studies I Afro-005
Dr. Gregory Carr
March 7, 2017
What are some of the similarities and differences in practices of self- determination of Africans in the U.S. and their counterparts throughout the hemisphere?
Abstract:
Africans in the United States and Africans in the Western Hemisphere both practiced self-det ermination. Practices of self-d etermination came in different forms such as marronage and quilombismo , as a means to bring African people together, forming allegiances. Self-determination also came in the form of various techniques of resistance. Having learned techniques of resistance, Africans emerged as a power ful unity and started to resist enslavement. Realizing tha t if they were going to overpower the system of enslavem ent they first had to terminate "dominating social structure", the Africans began their journey in terminating the identity that were given to them and began creating an identity for their selves.
Critical Review of Scholarship:
Several books as well as class discussions were used as aids to answer this question. One book was Black Movements in American by Cedric Robinson. This book discusses how African people practiced self-determination in many ways and depending on social structure and were able to find themselves. Also discussed in this book is how Black people have been trying to resist slavery. A second book used was the Atlas of African-American History and Politics: From the Slave Trade to Modern Times. This book not only served as a visual, but also talked about the Africans' reasoning behind joining the American Revolution and gave intensive information of Africans' struggle for freedom in United States and throughout the hemisphere. Other evidence that serves as an aid in answering this question are the class discussions led by Dr. Carr.
Discussion:
To begin, we first define what self-determination is. Self-determination is "a characteristic of a person that leads them to make choices and decisions based on their own preferences and interests, to monitor and regulate their own actions and to be goal-oriented and self-directing". As the self-determination of the Africans strengthened, the vision of their ultimate goal, freedom, grew. No matter what their plans were or how they differed, the end game was always freedom and a chance to create an identity for their selves.
As stated in Black Movements in America, "Resistance among the slaves and bonded laborers assumed various appearances: appeals to the court, physical violence, flight, and rebelliousness,". One method used by the Africans to gain freedom was to fight in the American Revolution. However, there were Africans fighting on both sides. As stated in the Atlas of African-American History and Politics, while over 5,000 free blacks served in the Continental Army, there were an equal number of free and runaway black slaves fighting in the British Army. Though they chose to fight on different sides, the goal was still freedom.
Another technique used by the Africans to gain freedom through self-determination was to rebel. A great example is the Haitian Revolution, one of the most violent and successful slave revolts of America. It was said that the revolts were very organized. In fact they were so organized that in 1793 the French government, who ruled the island at that time, abolished slavery on the island. Haiti eventually gained its independence in 1804 through consistent rebellions. This shows the level of dedication and self-determination that the Africans in Haiti had.
In a class discussion we spoke about a lady named Ona (Oney) Judge. Judge's technique of self-determination and resistance was one more on the nonviolent side. Ona was a slave for George Washington and his wife. She used the law, oddly enough, to gain her freedom. She escaped to New Hampshire, where by law she was technically free. George Washington was unsuccessfully at having her returned to his plantation. In another class discussion we spoke about marronage. Marronage (maroons) is refers to people who escaped slavery, and created independent groups and communities on the outskirts of slave societies. This was another form of a nonviolent technique used by the Africans to gain their freedom.
Further Questions:
In my attempt to answer the question of what are some of the similarities and differences in practices of self- determination of Africans in the U.S. and