What does man rely on mostly for a social experience, instincts or culture? This is a question which brings out a clear cut difference between animals and human beings. While animals rely mostly on instincts, the opposite is true to the human beings, as they rely on culture so as to be fully acclimatized to their social surroundings.It is ‘natural’ for man to create a way of life without having any vital instinctive knowledge during the struggle for survival process. This is possible even after having being exposed to a new environment.One of this ways is through the establishment of a subculture, which is defined as ‘a group that shares many elements of the dominant culture but maintains its own distinctive customs, values, norms and lifestyles’ (Scott, 2005).
In this light, the African Americans form a unique subculture which has employed great creativity in the fusion of the African and the American elements of culture, hence the term African AmericanReligion and Music African American religion is characterized by creative fusion and a long tale of variety. During the slave trade period, the enslaved Africans carried with them a myriad of local practices and beliefs.This diversity was a clear reflection that they were from very different linguistic and cultural groups. Even though most of the slaves were from the West African coast, they were still different, as each community had their specific religion.
Key among them was the African Traditional Religion. Once the slaves reached America, it was very difficult for them to preserve their religions. This is because they were subjected to harsh circumstances such as high death rates due to poor health conditions and the separation of tribal groups and families. Additionally, the Americans termed all their religions as ‘heathen’.Therefore, they made sure that all of them were strict followers of Christianity.
Since the African Americans did not want to do away with their religious activities, they inculcated the Christian religion with their rhythms, movements, isolated songs, the strong belief in curative roots as well as the efficacy of an ancestral and spiritual world (Kipp, 2005). Latin America was a stronghold of the Catholic religion. Therefore, the Africans combined the Catholic religion with their practices and beliefs, and came up with religions such as Voodoo in Haiti, Candomble in Brazil and Santeria in Cuba. These religions are still practiced to date by the African Americans living in Latin America. However, it was a different case in North America.
There were so many protestant evangelical preachers, who actively converted the African Americans. Therefore, they did not retain so much of their African religious beliefs, except for dances and movements. This is because they still continued to have strong worship patterns like spirit possession, singing, dancing and clapping, which exists up to date.Most of them were converted to the Baptist, Methodist and other Independent Churches. Up to date, the African Americans are mostly Protestants.
Due to cultural transfusion, they have continued with their creative fusions as far as worship is concerned (Kipp, 2005).Music is a strong combination of lyrics which speak to the instincts. That is the reason why the African Americans carried their own music, even if they were bound in chains.In the historical African culture, almost all activities were combined with music. African American music has crossed all culture and color lines. When the Africans were brought in as slaves, they continued to sing their Plantation songs as they worked in the fields.
However, they could no longer use drums as it was regarded as a way of planning rebellious acts by the slave owners.Nevertheless, they adopted the fiddle, which they used in their ‘call and response’ songs, which are still sung today (Moffet, 2010).The work songs sung in the fields led to the development of a music genre referred to as Blues. These were sad songs which depicted the struggle they went through in their day to day lives. Similarly, the genre today is known for depicting the contemporary issues a particular person or group faces in the society.Accompaniments in theses music include the piano, guitar, banjo and harmonica (Moffet, 2010).
The Blues led to the development of Jazz, which placed more stress on instruments, unlike the blues. The saxophone, drums, trumpet and piano were used as accompaniments. Jazz was closely linked to the American culture than the African culture.This is because it developed at a time when the Africans were driven by the urge of acceptance from the Americans, more than even preserving the culture.
Gospel songs (spirituals) evolved from the blues. Up to date, African American gospel music still has a worldwide popularity.Hip hop is another music genre which developed in the 1970’s from the young African Americans who needed to express themselves. It places great emphasis on beats and lyrics, and talks about harsh realities facing some sections of people. They are commonly sung today in the whole world (Moffet, 2010).African American food Most African Americans have adopted food from the Whites.
However, they still have maintained the kinds of food that they adopted from their African forefathers. Most of the African American cooking styles did not originate from the slave trade era, but way before then. Olaudah Equiano is a well known victim of slave trade.In his biography, he stated several aspects of the African cooking methods, which were adopted by the African Americans. One of these types of food which demonstrates aspects of cultural diffusion is soul food. It is derived from the African styles of cooking, and is also blended with modern American styles.
Soul food is a combination of vegetables with different types of meat. The mixture is eaten with soup or any other stew. In the African traditional cooking, liquid vegetable oil was used together with smoked fish, unlike in the current style of cooking where pork totters and hydrogenated fats are used.Other African American foods that are so similar to the African culture are Gumbo, Cajun cuisine and Etouffe (African Foods, 2010).Language and DressingAfrican Americans are fond of vernacular English, commonly referred to as Black English or Ebonics. It is ‘a rule-governed variety of English spoken by some African Americans in the United States’ (Social Rank, 2010).
According to several linguists, the dialect has evolved from the Creole language that arose as a result of the interaction between the Americans and the West Coast Africans during the slave trade era.The Creole transformed with time due to the contact with English. Since the African Americans were socially isolated, they diverged from other English dialects that were used in the United States (Social Rank, 2010).According to Lanehart, (2001), the African Americans are proud of this language. The author states that “Black people love Black English so much…the saying of words, holding them on the tongue, experimenting with them, playing with them. It is a love, a passion.
The worst thing that would happen is to lose that language.” Therefore, even if linguists have been arguing on whether to accept the dialect as a distinct language or not, the African Americans will never do away with their language, as it is completely inculcated in their culture.African Americans are fond of jewelry, a trait that was gotten from their forefathers. Archaeological evidence in New York reveals that jewelry was worn by the slaves.
This was revealed after the remains of a child and a woman were found, and all of them had beads around their necks.The Africa woman is so fond of headgears and diverse hair styles. This is also present in the African American women, who even plait their hairs just like the Africans do. They also wear headgear, in some occasions. For the African men, the ‘conk’, which refers to straightening of hair, is still practiced by some African Americans, especially the young men (Social Rank, 2010).Rasta locks and the Afro hairstyles trace their origin from the African traditional dress.
Additionally, African American women are fond of adding hairpieces to their hairs, a trend that was common and is still common up to date with the Africans.The African Americans also adopted the dressing styles of the African Americans. After the invention of photography, portraits from eminent black leaders such as Booker T. Washington and Frederick Douglass reveal the white and formal dressing styles. This was especially among the black literate, artists, and intellectuals (Social Rank, 2010).Although the African Americans adopted the dressing styles of the whites, their style is unique as it sets them apart from the others.
African dress is known to be very colorful and flamboyant that those of the whites.This trend continues up to date, as they dress very colorfully during occasions, unlike the whites who are more used to official clothing. Contemporary African Americans have not fully adopted the white population’s sartorial, casual and sloppy forms of dressing (Social Rank, 2010).ConclusionFrom the above discussion, it is evident that the African Americans have come a long way as far as their culture is concerned.
They have fused both the aspects of the Americans and the Africans in their culture so as to get a pure blend of their own subculture, which is unique. If they would be placed in the current African contexts, it would not be very difficult for them to survive, as they have some of the African concepts in their culture.