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African contributions - Essay Example

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African-American culture is also known as black culture. In the United States, it refers to the cultural contributions of African Americans to the culture of the United States. It could be either a part of, or distinct from American culture…
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African Contributions African Contributions African-American culture is also known as black culture. In the United s, it refers to the cultural contributions of African Americans to the culture of the United States. It could be either a part of, or distinct from American culture. The United States is majorly a Western culture initially influenced by native American culture that started its formation with the migration of Indians from Asia into the present day United States (William, 2009). It has a unique social and cultural characteristic in regards to religion, politics, dialect, music, arts, social habits and diet. Presently, the United States of America is so diverse ethnically and racially due to large-scale immigration of many different cultures throughout its history, dating back to the days of slavery. This paper will discuss how African communities have contributed to the social and cultural trait of the United States. The origin of titles referring to family members and bonds could be linked to relations of the ancient Africans. It was common for family members to be separated through the sale of persons in the days of rampant slavery in the United States. However, some African people who had gained freedom by being hired out or escaping from their masters, managed to buy back members of their families who were still in bondage. Some who were separated from blood relatives formed close relations based on assumed kinship. The close bonding of non-blood family friends led to their being accorded the status and titles of blood relatives (Opala, 2008). Therefore, the African concept of what constitutes family, and the high regard for elders, who form part of African traditional societies may be the origin of common use of household terms such as brother, sister, uncle, aunt and mama (Ferris, 2009). Socially, African-American neighborhoods are an outstanding feature in many cities of the United States and have significantly influenced the outlook of the landscape. Their formation is closely linked to the history of segregation in the United States. Examples include Forest Park in Oklahoma, Baldwin Hills in California and Mitcheville in Maryland. On the other extreme end, widespread poverty and segregated conditions have led to the buildup of some African-American neighborhoods referred to as ghettos (Bernard, 2011). In religion, the institutions of African-American Christians are collectively referred to as the black church. In the days of slavery, the slaves were drawn away from their African belief systems and essentially denied the right to practice free religion. They were forced to become Christians. However, a few managed to hang on to some practices by secretly integrating them into Christian worship. These practices are now openly displayed in modern day Christian worship. They include vigorous dancing, shouts, African rhythms, and enthusiastic singing. Furthermore, segregation led to the development of organized African-Americans, including the AME Church founded by Richard Allen in 1787 (Bowden, 1993). Later, the merger of smaller Baptist groups formed the National Baptist Convention, which is presently the largest African-American Christian Denomination. Thus, several predominantly African-American churches exist as members of predominantly white denominations. In other religions, 14% of Americans practice Islam, and there are over 150,000 Americans who practice Judaism (Bowden, 1993). Dietary, the cultivation and use of many food crops in the United States is highly influenced by African cultures. They include agricultural products such yams, peanuts, rice, okra, sorghum, grits, watermelon, indigo dyes, and cotton. Other foods that can be traced to the Africans are fried chicken, fish, black-eyed peas and rice (Opala, 2008). The traditionally prepared food was high in fat, sodium, and starch, hence suitable to the physically demanding lives of laboring slaves. Most of the foods are still considered a delicacy today. Presently, it is a contributing factor to lifestyle diseases like obesity and heart ailments in the United States. Africans have also contributed to the current political landscape of the United States. After the passing of the Voting Rights Act, there was an average of 10,000 African American elected officials in the United States, who were majorly Democratic (Bernard, 2011). Also, 11% of African Americans voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election. In conclusion, the presence of Africans in the United States since the days of slavery has significantly influenced all the key aspects of present day lifestyles. They are displayed in politics, manner of worship, how and what to eat and also titles given to persons. References Bernard, E. (2001). Remember me to Harlem: The letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten. New York: Knopf Bowden, H. W. (1993). Dictionary of American religious biography (2nd ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. Ferris, W. (2009). Give my poor heart ease: Voices of the Mississippi blues. North Carolina: The University of North Carolina Press. Opala, J. (2008). The gullah: Rice, slavery, and the Sierra Leone connection. Yale: Yale University Press. Read More
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