True Power

True Power

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Partial book review:Myth of the Negro Past

Anyone interested in becoming an author should know one thing: in order to write, you must read and read alot.

Dr. Melvill J. Herskovits (1895-1963) was a white anthropology professor at Northwestern University and founder of the first university program in African studies in the United States.

His book explains that the American Negro maintained some of their cultural practices brought with them from Africa. Everyone believes that because the slaves were from different parts of Africa and made to conform to white standards of slave life that all culture was stripped from them. If you study the black person in America, you will notice they have European practices. But, if a person from Africa studies blacks in America, Haiiti, Jamaica, Colombia, and Brazil, he will notice some common practices of these blacks that are similar to some practices in Africa.

It is clearly noted that when a white person/European person sung a church song it sounded one way and when a black person sung the same song it sounded another way. The black person adapted and assimilated to the song, but brought to it their own flavor that was brought with them from Africa. If blacks did this with music and dance, accepted white practices by overlaying it with African practices, then they must have done so in other areas of aculturation.

Slave owners taught us how to speak their language, dress in their clothes etc., but did not teach us their paranting skills. We may have imitated some of their styles in parenting, but their must have been some passed down, traditional, cultural childrearing practices that the black slave maintained. The cultural customs the African slave kept blended into the world of superstition and folklore.

In all of the countries of various blacks that originated from Africa, the further you went into sparce populated areas and the lower the education, the higher incidence of superstition, tradition, and folklore. This is seen in the deep south today. In Texas, my cab driver spoke of carrying peas in his wallet on New Years Day and of course my family eats peas on New Years Day for good luck. Why are we messing with peas? I don't know. But what if in Africa, centuries ago, peas were given to some deity for favor? Blacks may be doing cultural practices passed down through family tradition, superstition, and folklore that some unknown tribe is/was doing as part of their life. I found this facinating.

I never believed that I had anything in common with anyone from Africa, but that is me looking at them. If someone from Africa was to study my life, he may see some things I do that are a tradition to me and my family, but it may an African practice of some tribe long ago.

EXERPT

"The characteristic of self-abasement, involving as it does a lack of self-respect, explains the Negro's extrodinary imitativeness. This slavish imitation of the white, states J.M. Mecklin, even to the attempted obliteration of physical characteristics, such as wooly hair, is almost pathetic, and exceedingly significant as indication the absence of feelings of race pride or race integrity. Any imitation of one race by another, of such a wholesale and servile kind as to involve complete self-abnegation, must be disastrous to all concerned."(Boston:Beacon Press, 1958,p. 20).

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