Black people were enslaved for 400 hundred years. They were taken away from Africa and lost everything precious to them, especially their identities. Europeans knew that the most important factor in keeping a Black man enslaved was to take away his deities. African people worship different Gods aside from Europeans. However, when they were enslaved, they were forced to “Christianize” their name and practice Christian religion. The slave owner knows that the body can be whipped, shackled, and dragged. But as long as a person maintains their spiritual connections then enslaving the individual wouldn’t have a lasting effect. However, when a person does feel powerless, their minds become similar to infants: they soak up everything around them. An enslaved African mind was forced to begin from infancy again because everything that they knew was taken away. However, what the Europeans didn’t expect was that once Christian values were installed within the African, that the spiritual connection to Jesus would overpower the torture and abuse and reinstall hope. With the continues of African women reproducing, their children immediately were accustomed to American culture and if they were lucky enough, they were also accustomed to African culture. However, not every African child held a sense of duality between African and American, but they did hold a duality between Black and American. But what does that mean?
Once African-American people were freed, they continued to be a marginal mass and also became a hyphenated culture. They had to exist within their culture and American culture. They had to try and find a balance with both cultures without become an “Uncle Tom” or in other words, a sell out. One had to maintain their “Blackness” while trying to maintain their “Americanness.” But what does it mean to be Black? American? or African? Is their a complete difference?
To be Black: it seems like in the 21st century, Black people have recognize themselves as a threatening culture. Mass media has placed emphasis on Black people being aggressive and dangerous. In comparison, many Black people have acknowledge those stereotypes and have become just that. Shows like Atlanta’s Housewives, Love & Hip-Hop, and Basketball wives all single out to the American masses that Black people, especially women, are an angry/violent culture. Although, this is completely untrue, people generalize a culture according to what they assume to be true and what the see. To be Black means that your complexion is darker than any other ethnicities. However, not all Black people are dark, but a majority of them are darker compared to other ethnicities. Being Black isn’t something that you do, it isn’t determined on how you act or speak, it is strictly pertaining to your complexion and ancestry or environment. (There are some hispanics that appear Black).
To be African: To be African means that you or your parents are directly from Africa. Do not get this term confused with Black because there are many Africans you will get upset if you refer to them as being Black. Although Black people are descendants of African people, the term Black and African have changed because of the cultural rift that Black and African people have. A Black person has no idea what it means to be African because they are not born within African culture. However, an African person can tell you what it’s like to be a Black person because the treatment of Black people is similar regardless of what nationality they are from.
To be American: Anyone can be an American. Your race or nationality does not determine whether or not you are American. The things that determine that are if you were born in America or if you have gained citizenship. Being American should mean a person being free. But what is free? Does free mean not physically being enslaved but instead mentally? Does it mean that anyone can walk down the street and not feel superior than another? Or does it simply just mean being you? Being American means that you live in America. So where do the social construct of being American come from?