Paper I wrote on; African Impact on North American Culture
The creativity of the African Americans has had an enormous impact on so many different aspects of North American culture. The seventeenth and eighteenth century slave trade brought numerous West Africans to North America. The slaves were brought from different parts of Africa, and although there were fewer numbers of immigrants from south-eastern Africa their cultural impact wasn’t lessened at all. The type of cultural blending mostly depended on the location, and ethnic background of the Europeans interacting with the African American people. African impact was strong and very common in many Latin American and Caribbean places. In 1983 6.2% of the general population of Latin America was of the African ethnic group, and many were African mixed races. Some of the many influences are music, literature, media, and fashion. My main focus is musical influences, and the creativity derived from it.
The main influence in my opinion is music, and the center genre would definitely be blues. Although there hasn’t been certain answers about how exactly the music was derived, we do know some facts about the constructing of instruments. Many believe that Africans brought with them the instruments, and some suggest that the remains of red clay that was caked to the surface of some drums indicates that they had been buried and hidden away. Some others say that this would have been near impossible, and the instrument would have been made upon arrival in North America. This fact would be hard to believe because of the limited recourses that slaves had. Although either way, the influences are undeniable.
Creativity wasn’t hard for African Americans, they had endless hardship to create songs about. I think we would all agree that the original theme of music is based on the experiences that the artist has had. And through out the lives of these slaves, experience was something which they carried with them. The slaves took what they thought was important and useful to them from the European culture, and brought it into the music they made. Another reason for such a creative outflow would be the constant craving for African culture. After being moved so far away from everything they knew, it would be understandable that they would want to carry on anything to keep them close to their ethnic background. The attraction from North Americans towards this culture, is what has kept the product of African and European mixed customs alive. African music has always been more functional. Every genre or piece of music has some function, either to tell a story, make work go by better, or just to give pleasure. But above all African music is more closely tied with details of living, more so than most European songs. The pleasure of this music is what has kept the strong attraction to it in North America. None of the music that we listen to today would be the same without these huge, substantial imprints.
Davis, D. J. (1995). Slavery and Beyond; The African Impact on Latin America and the Caribbean, xi, xxi.Kubik, G. (1999). Africa and the Blues, 5-7.
Roberts, J.R. (1972). Black Music of Two Worlds, 3-5.
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