Makayla Fails
Dr. Greg Carr
Intro to African American Studies
February 16, 2016
Framing Question #2: How Did Africans Preserve and Affirm Their Way of Life and Use Their Identities As a Means to Resist Enslavement?
Abstract:
The question that we are being asked is a powerful one. Africans were basically completely stripped of their identities when they were forced into slavery. But this question is basically saying that they were indeed not completely stripped, so what did they do to keep their identities. What did they do to keep their souls alive? What did they do to keep their stories alive? It is not easy to keep your culture, your religion and your language alive when you are continuously moving from place to place and when you are forced to adapt to different cultures, religions and languages. But despite all of the hardships and struggles, Africans did preserve and affirm their culture as a means to resist enslavement through many different ways. "Culture never dies, it's passed on; that is why it changes" (Carr).
Critical Review of Scholarship:
Since the beginning of this course, we have engaged in readings that hit almost every aspect of African studies. Something Torn and New: An African Renaissance by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o happens to be one of these readings. This book talks about how the main goal of Europeans was to overpower the African culture by imprinting their culture and ways of living into the souls of the Africans. When discussing this book in class, we basically came up with the conclusion that the Europeans took everything away from the Africans. So not only did they take their freedom, but they took their languages, their memories, and their culture. So when I say the Europeans wanted to "overpower" the African culture, they wanted to completely wipe it out as if it never existed. This book helps you to realize how much the Africans value their language, memories, culture, and their identity as a whole.
Another book that really helped me to understand and answer the question asked is The Coming by Daniel Black. This book follows a group of Africans from the moment they are captured in their villages to the moment they are sold in America. In this novel, Daniel Black depicts the characters' journey to the ship, journey across the Atlantic, and complete loss of self. This book was probably the most helpful with answering the framing question because it really puts you in the time and place of slavery. It is like you are actually there and you know everything that is going on.
Discussion:
The Africans that experienced enslavement went through too much for us to even try to imagine what it was like. As was said before, they were basically forced into a whole new world. To the white man, they were stripped of their name, culture, religion and language. This made the white man (slave owners/master) feel more than powerful. This made them feel like they had full control on the slaves' lives, which they kind of did in a sense. It was almost like they were puppet masters playing with ventriloquist dolls, only this was real life dealing with real people and real situations.
In my opinion, Africans were stuck in a very tough situation, but they were smart with the way that they went about it. In order to preserve their lives, identity and their experiences, Enslaved African-Americans created sacred songs and told stories about their experiences. Since enslaved people were not allowed to formally educate themselves, which includes learning how to write down these memories of the past, oral storytelling was the only way to have a connection to Africa. Of everything that was taken and stripped, the mind was the one thing the white slave owners could not erase. As hard as they tried Africans held onto their identities, cultural traditions, and connections through verbal exchange. As was said before, these slaves were smart. They knew that nobody could tell their stories better than them. If they left it up to the white man to tell of their experiences, we might not even know of slavery or the degree of severity to which it was. It was said in the book, The Coming,