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HIST 300: African American History (Slavery) > CH. 3 Culture > Flashcards

Flashcards in CH. 3 Culture Deck (60)
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What is commonly misunderstood about most of the first Africans that arrived on ships?

weren't completely newly exposed to white Europeans

- most of first slaves were Atlantic Creoles (had knowledge of Atlantic trade + Euro languages + cultures)

- some used this cultural knowledge to their advantage to fit more into Euro society

- would have much easier adjustment to Euro rule than the Africans to come


How did the slave pop. change following the early 18th century?

No longer dominated by Atlantic creoles

- now "outlandish" Africans made up majority (directly from Africa)

- would have hard time adjusting to new life on new land


What had become common among blacks by the 1770s?

most Africans Americans on mainland lived in extended family tie dwellings

- were practicing own unique African American culture

- set the basis for black life in America


How were the early adjustments like for newly arrived slaves from Africa?

the hardest (adaptation came slowly)

- tended to cling to own cultural traditions + ways of doing things

- included sense of personal identity + own religion/language + social customs/traditions

- slaves came from variety of places across West Africa (brought w/ them variety of customs)

- relatively few of them could join w/ others + practice group survival on basis of common heritage

- still most Africans held in common enough ideas they could intermingle certain aspects of their cultures


How did the early intermingling of different African cultures begin?

on slave ships soon after capture

- amalgamation continued once they arrived on the colonies

- process of clinging to certain traditions + borrowing heavily from Euros/Natives birthed hybrid black culture


What determined the rate of acculturation of newly arrived African individuals?

- local circumstances

- strength of their particular African traditions

- personal willingness to change


What determined the rate of acculturation of newly arrived African groups?

process varied b/c individual survival didn't require formation of a group culture


What single process dominates consideration of the development of African American culture in colonial America?

blacks in US first had to have deep social contact w/ substantial # of other blacks before group values/beliefs could develop

- they had to exist in black communities


What was the conduit for passing down these early manifestations of black culture?

the black family

- adults teach their children values considered important for survival/good living


How important were family relationships to first generation arrivals?

very important

- vital for cultural formation + transmission

- family for first gen. arrivals didn't always include only blood relation/marriage people

- Euro law defined family as only blood relation/by marriage


What were some of the obstacles to African American community development + family formation in the first century of slavery (demography)?

simple demographic considerations affected social relations

- # of blacks apportioned to whites determined by nature of economy + slave trade in a region

- individuals also required certain amount of freedom to interact outside supervision of whites


What were some of the obstacles to African American community development + family formation in the first century of slavery (proximity)?

proximity to white colonists

- in many places blacks interacted daily w/ whites (both in North/South colonies)

- even the wealthiest masters spent hours w/ slaves in Chesapeake colonies

- African slaves w/ close relationships w/ whites learned English + practiced Euro-American customs quicker than others

- those working w/ a lot of blacks + fewer whites in more isolated areas had more extensive social relations w/ themselves

- retained African customs better as well (acculturation to anglo-American norm not as fast)


How did the difference between slaves born in Africa vs those born in America affect African American cultural development?

- those born in Africa tended to keep to themselves more/retain more of their African customs

- areas w/ more Atlantic creoles/American born blacks had more unity among partly acculturated black pop.

- had less adherence to unadulterated African customs


How did demographics and the slave trade play a role in the ability of the black pop. to naturally inc. + maintain families?

as long as Atlantic trade was bringing high #s to particular region black men continued to outpace women there

- masters knew they could more cheaply purchase/train male laborer than rear one domestically

- owners in these regions often did little to encourage marriage + procreation + family life among slaves

- worked women as hard as men + allowed minimal time off for bearing children


How did disease keep the slave pop. between men/women unbalanced?

slaves died out quickly in new world due to disease

- w/ replacements coming so cheaply many owners began caring little for slave livelihood

- when slave trade was high mortality rate was too + birth rate was low

- made slave society unable to replace its #s naturally


What effect did the uneven pop. between black men/women imports have on black families?

w/ more men than women + interracial marriage illegal it was impossible for most slaves to have normal family life

- few males black or white able to marry due to unequal sex ratios + high mortality rates

- once slave trade from Africa declined slave pop. began to balance out + family life emerged


How did different working + living circumstances in the colonies affect the development of black culture?

- slaves living on isolated plantations had less contact w/ anglo culture

- slaves that lived in small farms had more contact w/ anglo culture going to market to sell crops

- plantation slaves working under task system had more control over lives than those working under watchful eyes

- degree of autonomy under task system allowed them to hold onto more of their African culture


What happened to isolated plantations over time?

in certain regions plantation life grew settled + slaves enjoyed mobility among plantations

- once this happened even black communities centered on one plantation could broaden to include others


What was the difference between urban vs rural slaves?

urban slaves generally had greater autonomy than rural slaves

- urban slaves lived closer to whites + some permitted to attain skills/live on their own/hire their own time

- urban blacks mingled w/ whites at work + play (lax urban working requirements led to less control measures)

- acculturation took place regularly in urban environments


What were some unique circumstances some blacks faced that affected the development of black culture?

African Americans working as seamen

- worked river crafts that carried goods + served on civilian/military ships at sea by the 1740s

- some had Atlantic creole heritage (most accustomed to whites but proud of own cultural traditions)


How did black culture develop in the Chesapeake region?

for first 75 yrs MD/VA planters made distinctions more on basis of race

- Chesapeake blacks (mostly Atlantic Creoles) suffered same hardships at white laborers

- some of each group that lived long enough attained freedom + acquired land

- blacks interacted w/ whites of their class in work/play but more open racial society didn't last


What events after 1680 halted the rapid acculturation in the Chesapeake region between whites/blacks?

importation of large # of Africans

- by 1710 3/4 of Chesapeake blacks were African (mostly men)

- sexual imbalance made opportunities for black family life difficult (led to cutting of birth rates)

- VA planters often sent new arrivals to Piedmont frontier (isolated from tidewater + most creoles)

- smaller # of creoles enjoyed greater freedoms from their masters

- through 1740s distinct African + creole slave societal difference emerged in Chesapeake


What made the African-creole split short lived in the Chesapeake colonies?

in response to growing # of blacks planters in region formed unity w/ lower class whites

- lumped all blacks together which stifled creole opportunities


What began happening in the late 1740s Chesapeake colonies?

slave trade declined to the Chesapeake

- saw long period of natural pop. inc. for blacks

- blacks born in America soon predominated

- at same time planters brought more slaves on larger plantations + turned over some ares to wheat production

- gave blacks seasonal variety in their work + opportunities to learn new skills + make broader contacts

- this + development of road network allowed blacks from different plantations to interact

- eventually black families w/ links going back generations existed


What was black culture like in some parts of the Chesapeake region by the American Revolution?

existed African American community w/ its own way of life + time/space to practice it

- race still remained restrictive in their ability to pursue certain personal actions

- many blacks lived near masters + under watchful eye of white majority

- were more like Anglo Americans in language + formal religion + family structure

- many blacks still had broad kinship relationships by this time + had incorporated African elements into cultural practices


How did black culture develop in the Low Country?

first 30 yrs Atlantic creoles worked closely w/ white owners + seemingly mutual cultural exchange transpired

- early SC saw maybe most reciprocal + symbiotic cultural exchange between blacks/whites than any other colony


Why was the cultural exchange in the Low Country so short lived?

massive African imports changed direction of cultural evolution

- creole slave community emerged in Charleston (largely mulatto people living close to whites)

- creoles more privileged + acculturated than rural counterparts

- in rural areas slave trade continually renewing growing black community (African imports not Atlantic creoles)


What did the rural rice plantation system in the Low Country produce?

slaves were independent + self reliant

- task system gave them more time to socialize w/ fellow blacks away from white authority

- relative isolation enabled them to hold onto more African cultural practices more so than any other blacks on the mainland

- by 1770 rural plantation slaves + urban creoles more separated than even most black/whites societies in Chesapeake


What do some researchers argue about Lower MS?

where longest term of cultural intermingling occurred in colonial America

- Euros had difficulty controlling large region thus allowing for mass intermingling of blacks + whites + natives

- even in more controlled societies like New Orleans an openness existed that provided the enslaved greater opportunities

- such blending of cultures resulted in a shared creole culture throughout region + identifiable African element at the heart of it


Where were the seeds of the black community fostered?

in the black family

- unit for educating/socializing the young

- passing down set of common values + customs


How was a family a central unit in black culture even before arriving in America?

kinship was basis of social organization in West Africa

- extended family in village + kinship links across wider areas gave Africans individual/collective identities

- institutions united people separated by space + provided material/psychological support essential for daily living

- loss of kinship network probably most disruptive force in the Africans enslavement

- made recreating family unit in America especially important


How were African American families destined to be different than the ones formed in Africa?

West African families tended to follow one line of descent through males/females (not both)

- enabled even distant family members who shared common ancestor to identify w/ large group of kin

- marriage united these kin networks in relationships of obligation

- marriages arranged + bound w/ family pressures/payments of bride wealth

- kinship held these people together more tightly than political authority/national loyalty


Why was it impossible for African Americans to recreate the type of kinship networks they formed in Africa?

would've taken generations + required complete freedom in marriage/residence

- made attempts to seek out relatives (like on slave ships)

- slave children began addressing older slaves w/ kinship titles on plantations on the mainland

- younger children respected their elders in the African fashion

- children who developed bonds w/ fictive kins better able to cope w/ death/sale of their blood relatives


When did black family units began to come into existence in North America?

during 18th century

- once gender ration between black males/females began to even out

- English type of nuclear family emerged

- monogamous marital relationships that traced descent through both parents

- occurred earliest in the Chesapeake than later in Low Country + Lower MS


What were the obstacles that black slave families had to overcome in North America?

greatest was regular movement of slaves by owners

- separated married adults from one another + parents from children

- black families only partially resembled English nuclear families due to circumstances


What was a common occurrence in the Chesapeake region for black families?

common for them to live apart

- men often lived in separate housing out of necessity

- "marrying abroad" became a common term in VA to describe marrying someone off the plantation

- women thus did much of the child rearing


What were some characteristics of black marriages during the slave times?

- men tended to be older + domineering in their relationships (common in African culture too)

- pre-marital sex + polygamy in limited practice was a norm

- blacks that clung to African marriage customs angered whites around them (supported white ideas blacks were sexual deviants)


What were wedding ceremonies like for slaves in the New World?

ceremonies for marriage were held even if not technically legally binding

- Christian marriages occasionally took place in New England

- "negro marriages" were more the norm in the South

- "jumping the broom" thought to be popularized in negro marriages


What did slaves recognize about their family units?

knew how tenuous family security was

- economic downturn + death of master could mean sale of loved ones

- slave master relationship began moving in direction f paternalism in late 18th century

- meant slave masters more concerned w/ keeping slave family units together

- some masters still broke families apart w/ no remorse


What are some arguments made concerning the stability of black families?

not necessarily any less stable than white families

- the more established the black community became the more black husbands lived w/ the rest of their families

- distance between man + his family isn't a measurement for how much they care


How important was motherhood in the black family?

potent institution

- provided for their children when absence of father made their jobs twice as hard


What was considered the heart of black culture in colonial America?


- through most of religion forming period what practiced was rarely Christian

- African slaves arrived w/ strong religious/spiritual beliefs + thoughts of the afterlife

- encountered Puritans/Christians/other Euro religions (w/ some intent on turning slaves into Christians)

- religions that couldn't accomodate their African customs were of little interest


What made religion an important aspect of slave life?

religious belief is personal

- often developed individually

- was sanctuary that slaves could turn to in times of anxiety

- was source of individual strength + collective security


What was slaves attitude toward Christianity during the colonial period?

mostly kept their distance from it

- when practiced they did so by blending it into African religious beliefs


What were some of the tenets of West African religion that slaves clung to during colonial period?

- believed in a spiritual afterlife much like Christians

- but also believed spirits existed in inanimate objects + these forces controlled much of working world

- spirits of ancestors interfered in world of living w/ magic acts important in controlling spirits

- many Africans believed in one/more hegemonic deities involved w/ the creation + events of the world


How was Christian teaching to slaves practiced?

some masters refused to teach Christianity to slaves

- feared losing control by forcing religion + argued slaves lacked intellect to appreciate scripture

- following lead of New England religious leaders some masters thought slavery part of God's plan

- to bringing the "heathens" out of Africa giving them knowledge about God

- Protestant evangelicals began filtering through colonies in early 18th century attempting to instruct slaves

- teachings stressed humility + obedience + work (traits of a "good slave")


What was an ironic event that occurred once slave conversion to Christianity began in the early 18th century?

more closely blacks worshipped w/ whites the less they wanted to become Christians

- those that did convert + worship w/ whites practice Christianity that paralleled closely w/ Anglo Christianity

- where there was greater distance between master/slave religious practices blacks were more eager to become Christian

- distant black Christianity more combination of African beliefs + Euro beliefs


What region was strongest in Christian proselytizing?

New England

- majority of blacks still remained outside the white church

- b/c in spite of proselytizing intentions New England churches segregated blacks + treated them like second class Christians

- baptism requirements for blacks especially rigorous

- sermons to black congregations justified the slave-master relationship

- slave owners refused to allow slaves to worship by themselves (feared "mongrelization" of Christianity)

- meant Africans mostly refused Christianity + kept to themselves to practice own beliefs


How was Christianity for blacks in the Middle Colonies?

blacks followed New England counterparts + kept to themselves

- began to manifest a new respect for traditional African ways

- held religious ceremonies + funerals w/ own African customs


How was Christian teaching in the Chesapeake?

blacks learned Christianity most frequently from fellow slaves + worshipped often w/ lower class whites

- southern whites allowed blacks more freedom to worship alone in way they chose

- in Chesapeake they accepted degree of African teachings themselves to form blend of Christianity good to both blacks/whites

- MD/VA mid 18th century saw large portion of black/whites Christian melding + conversion


What was the Great Awakening in the southern colonies?

religious movement that spread through lands of southern slaveholders in mid 18th century

- poor blacks/whites inspired by inclusive public preaching joined in worship + song in small prayer houses in rural VA

- burst of black conversion occurred between 1785-1790 in the Chesapeake

- inc. in black acceptance of Christian doctrine didn't result in rising Church membership among slaves

- even smaller proportion of blacks joined Church denominations in the Low Country


What was the norm Christian practices by southern slaves?

blended religion like African American folk variety extant in New England

- one especially important blending was Afro-Catholicism in New Orleans

- West African women in 1730s/40s responded positively to female ministry in New Orleans

- resulted in very large # of enslaved women being baptized in New Orleans

- offspring would later become leaders of Afro-Catholic faith in the city


What were some of the beliefs that blacks held onto even after accepting Christian teachings?

- believed one's soul returned to the ground not the sky

- funerals were more celebrations than somber moments

- soft singling was also common in black worship

- took stories from Old Testament that made them feel like the chosen people + could relate to struggles


How was African folk culture incorporated into medicine?

most Africans relied on folk medicine instead of Euro medicinal techniques

- made them better off then "professional medical advice" from licensed doctors in colonial era

- root doctors served as healers in the plantation (mixed knowledge of herbal remedies + ritual skills)

- psychological belief Africans had in the root doctors also played a large part in their success over traditional medicine


How was witchcraft important to the development of black culture?

witch doctors widespread in West Africa

- would develop into voodoo culture on plantations

- frequent use of talismans/amulets to ward off dangerous spirits

- some witch doctors practiced divining/predicting the future

- beliefs in ghosts very common


How did slaves use elements of African culture in their language?

mostly incorporated it heavily into Euro languages

- Low Country blacks had difficultly conversing in complete English w/ such little interaction w/ whites on a daily basis

- situation slightly different in the northern colonies where blacks were more exposed to Euro languages


Why was it so hard for slaves to communicate w/ one another at first?

West Africans spoke variety of unintelligible languages

- slaves very dispersed so chances of finding someone that spoke same language were very slim

- blacks developed own way to communicate over several generations


What was the language developed by black slaves over generations?

varied by region

- language in the North resembled more Anglo English

- more South resembled a creole-English

- those in very remote areas spoke completely different languages like Gullah in the Low Country

- all took elements of African speech + melded it


How was music important to black slave culture?

both voice + instruments highly utilized on plantations

- host of string instruments can be owed to black technology

- songs used for celebration + entertainment + even education


What were some celebrations held by slaves on the mainland?

- Low Country slaves enjoyed boat races

- coastal city slaves were known for drinking + gambling

- multiracial tavern culture existed in just about every major city

- New England slaves held "Election Day" to elect governors + kings as a satire of white people

- Christmas festivals known as John Canoe festivals common in the Low Country