By William Dillon Piersen
Drawing on an unlimited wealth of proof - folktales, oral histories, spiritual rituals, and track - this publication explores the pervasive if frequently unacknowledged impression of African traditions on American lifestyles. the result's a daring reinterpretation of yankee historical past that disrupts traditional assumptions and turns racial stereotypes within out. William D. Piersen starts off by means of analyzing a sequence of African and African-American oral narratives that interpret the adventure of slavery from a surprisingly black viewpoint. founded on problems with ethical fact, those stories undergo witness to the that means and human expense of the slave exchange as perceived via those that have been its sufferers. Piersen then analyzes the ways that enslaved Africans tailored their wealthy cultural historical past to the recent situations they have been pressured to undergo. He indicates, for instance, how they imaginatively - and sometimes aggressively - devised kinds of public satire to withstand white authority. He strains the move of conventional African scientific wisdom to the Americas and demonstrates that during antebellum the USA many black healers have been extra expert than their white opposite numbers. He extra indicates how African customs contributed to shaping the evolving contours of yankee tradition - quite within the South - from vacation celebrations, musical traditions, and architectural kinds to modes of speech, conduct of labor, and methods of cooking. The black legacy to the United States even prolonged, mockingly, to the Ku Klux Klan, whose founders imitated covering traditions passed down from West African mystery societies. by way of reestablishing the forgotten cultural hyperlinks among Africa and the United States, this examine enriches our realizing of yank heritage and is a powerfultestament to the legacy of African tradition in American existence.
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Additional info for Black legacy: America's hidden heritage
29 Unfortunately, sometimes an old hand among the interpreters thought to have some fun at the expense of the greenhorns from Africa by exploiting their ignorance of the Atlantic trade. Olaudah Equiano experienced this too when shortly after his initial crossing he found himself eastward-bound again aboard an English merchantman. As a newcomer he was considered an easy mark for his shipmates' cruel humor. "30 To scare one new slave was cruel, but to scare many was dangerous. In 1737 when the Prince of Orange docked at Saint Christopher a local slave boarded the ship and jokingly told the arriving Africans that they would have their eyes put out and then be eaten.
In the years of the slave trade, people used value systems and frames of reference far different from our own to understand both the world and their own place in it. So to appreciate fully the meaning and nature of enslavement, we must try to grasp the victims' understanding of a process that has lain at the core of American race relations for almost three centuries. We must ask the type of question that enslaved Africans and generations of their progeny asked in their darkest hours of despair: Why?
The end result was not individual history as we know it. Folk memory is simply not as exact in detail or moment as written history, but, on the other hand, neither is it as subjective or idiosyncratic. Folk narrative, because of its shared authorship and its oral transmission over a series of years, aims for, and tells, a larger truth than is recorded in individual written records. Folk history reflects the shared experiences and attitudes of a people. In folk narratives about enslavement, Africans and their American children left behind their own insights into what they communally understood to be the causes of the human misery we call slavery.
Black legacy: America's hidden heritage by William Dillon Piersen