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Article

Tiffany M. Gill

Black is beautiful This familiar cry of the Black Power movement was revolutionary in its celebration of the culture style politics and physical attributes of peoples of African descent Symbols of the black is beautiful aesthetic most notably the Afro not only conjured up ideas about black beauty but also highlighted its contentious relationship with black politics and identity This tension between beauty standards and black politics and identity however did not first emerge in the late twentieth century with the Afro or the Black Power movement In fact blacks particularly black women have been struggling to navigate the paradoxical political nature of black identity and beauty since their enslavement in the Americas Despite this strained relationship black women have actively sought to define beauty in their lives and in the process created and sustained one of the most resilient and successful black controlled enterprises in America the black beauty ...

Article

The Caribbean region is more often stereotyped and dismissed in Britain than taken seriously as a location for art production, and has only ever reached small audiences, despite some significant exhibitions and critical attention.

1.Images and objects collected from the Caribbean during the colonial period

2.Migration of artists during the 20th century

3.Art reception in the 1960s and 1970s

4.Exhibitions of the 1980s and 1990s

5.Curatorial selection and its consequences

There is little consensus on what defines a coherent category of Caribbean art in terms of its geographical boundaries and cultural character and given its growing diaspora The region s Anglophone countries have contributed the most to art exhibitions staged in the United Kingdom the consequence of a shared colonial history and of migration Throughout the post Second World War period many artists from the Caribbean engaged in struggles for acceptance within the history of ...

Article

Alice Ross and Mark H. Zanger

The Caribbean influence on American food has been continual for hundreds of years, initially in coastal areas of similar climate, from Texas to the Carolinas. The early Spanish involvement in the Caribbean brought Caribbean foods to Europe and Africa, from whence they quickly returned to North America. Spanish gold shipments attracted other Europeans to the area and brought about the colonization of eastern North America. Cheap Caribbean sugar, coffee, cocoa, and spices have influenced the palates and tables of all Americans. The peoples of the Caribbean islands have developed multicultural cuisines that have been affecting American cooking at all levels since colonial times.

Influence of the Caribbean on contemporary American food may predate Columbus, because there is some possibility that Caribbean Indians reached Florida and introduced tropical tubers, or chilies. The chain of influence began in 1492 as the varieties of maize beans chilies squash peanuts and cassava collected ...

Article

Gullahs  

Caryn E. Neumann

The Gullahs were African Americans who settled in slave communities along the Atlantic coastal plain and on the chain of Sea Islands; in Georgia these people were known as Geechees. Geographical isolation and strong community life permitted the Gullahs to preserve their African cultural heritage through their skills, language, arts, gestures, and foods.

The homeland of the Gullahs is a coastal strip about 250 miles long and 40 miles wide running through South Carolina and Georgia Low flat islands along the coast are separated from the mainland by saltwater streams This geographic isolation was combined with a steady influx of Africans and a relatively small population of whites to create a culture that was heavily African Even after the official ban on the importation of slaves blacks continued to be smuggled into the coastal areas thereby providing fresh reinforcements of African culture and customs With a higher ratio of Africans ...

Article

Graeme Boone and James Sellman

The roots of the jook joint—a distinctly African American place for music, dancing, and socializing—reach back well before the Civil War (1861–1865) to the era of slavery. For slaves, free time and free space were transitory, rare, and surrounded in secrecy. In his autobiography, Tom Fletcher, an entertainer born in the late nineteenth century, recalled stories of such gatherings that he had heard when he was a boy: “[T]he slaves couldn't just come right out and say they were going to have a party or even a religious gathering. … [They] would use some kind of a signal … and one of the main code songs was the spiritual ‘Steal Away’. … The steal away gatherings sometimes were religious services. … Other times they were … good time parties.”

In such an environment to steal away and dance make music or pray together meant more than ...

Article

Moses  

From the days of slavery through the civil rights era, African Americans struggling for freedom from oppression have turned for inspiration to Moses, the biblical leader who guided the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land. The slaves were so fascinated by Moses that they often called the South “Egyptland,” the North “the promised land,” and antislavery leaders like Harriet Tubman“Moses”; also, slaves praised Moses’ heroic deeds in sermons, folktales, and spirituals (such as “Go Down Moses,”“Oh, Mary Don't You Weep,” and “Little Moses”). Literary works by modern and contemporary African American authors reflect the enduring importance of Moses to the African American community. Some works, such as Zora Neale Hurston's Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939), straightforwardly retell and reinterpret the biblical account of Moses for twentieth-century African Americans. Other works, writes H. Nigel Thomas employ Moses as ...

Article

Patricia A. Turner

African Americans began to quilt well over a hundred years before scholars began to earnestly document this important folk tradition. But since the late 1970s folklorists, art historians, journalists, historians, and quilters themselves have pieced together the history and culture of black quilting with the same confident care and bold technique deployed by the multitude of black quilters who assembled often disparate scraps of fabric into warm bedding and works of art. Their words tell the story of a tenacious tradition, rooted in antebellum slavery, one that continued into the early twenty-first century.

Article

Sambo  

Patricia A. Turner

Variants of the name Sambo can be found in several African cultures, including Samba in Bantu; Samb and Samba in Wolof; Sambu in Mandingo; and Sambo in Hausa, Mende, and Vai. Throughout census materials and assorted other eighteenth-century documents, these names emerge as those of new world slaves. The name also has possible Hispanic antecedents: the sixteenth-century word “zambo” refers to a bowlegged or knock-kneed individual.

By the late eighteenth century, whites had begun to use the name in a generic fashion to refer to male slaves. Before long, comic associations were commonplace; childishness, sloppiness, and a propensity to mispronounce multisyllabic words were the key traits of a Sambo figure. Such characters emerged in late eighteenth-century plays and sheet music, and became mainstays of nineteenth-century minstrelsy. By the time Helen Bannerman's The Story of Little Black Sambo was published in 1898 the name was thoroughly linked with the image ...

Article

Charles L. Lumpkins

A term that entered common parlance in the 1960s, “soul food” refers to food primarily from the U.S. South that has long been associated with African Americans. The “soul” in the term “soul food” conveys ideas of spirituality and earthiness embedded in African American culinary expression. This cuisine came into existence and evolved as enslaved Africans grafted Amerindian and European foods and cookery onto primarily West African culinary practices. Soul food is closely tied to black family and social life because of the central position that black women occupy in transferring knowledge of an African American food culture across generations.

From the 1750s well into the twentieth century soul food gained national recognition as African American women and men dominated the nation s kitchens preparing cooking and serving food in private homes restaurants military mess halls railroad dining cars and other venues Some regard soul food as unhealthy or as ...

Article

John Martin Taylor

The South is often defined as the eleven states that lie south of the Potomac River, or those of the Confederacy (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee), but many inhabitants of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, West Virginia, and Oklahoma consider themselves southerners because of shared history and culture if not geography. Though not separated from the rest of the country by dramatic natural borders, the South has, from its beginnings, been a separate region that is divided into several geographical areas with distinct histories. As the population of the South increases at twice the national rate, mostly from interstate immigration, the region no longer resembles the mid-twentieth-century South with its shared bond of the Confederacy.

The distinctive regions within the South include the Tidewater of Virginia and North Carolina the low country Atlantic coastal plain of South Carolina Georgia and northeastern Florida the ...

Article

Horace Clarence Boyer

an African-American musical tradition rooted in slave folk songs. Controversy surrounded the Christianization of slaves in the mid–seventeenth century. Many slaveowners argued that slaves did not possess souls and therefore needed no religious instruction; others contended that slaves did possess souls but as long as they were not Christianized they could be held in bondage. Attempting to solve the discrepancy, a Virginia law of 1667 stated, “Baptism doth not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom.” Thereafter slaveowners, with varying degrees of commitment, addressed the religious education of the slaves.

At first attending religious services segregated by race (and gender), slaves gradually accepted Christianity. Not until the middle of the eighteenth century, however, did slaves adopt Christianity in large numbers. This was accomplished initially through the evangelistic efforts of Samuel Davies (1723–1761) and Charles Wesley (1707–1788 and then by other ministers ...

Article

Regina Harris Baiocchi

Spirituals are three-way conversations among Africa past, present, and future. These ancestral dialogues link all aspects of African culture to African American people. Spirituals offer a sense of history and hope in the face of urgent struggles. Thanks to oral traditions, spirituals survived centuries of African diaspora and the era of slavery in America. African Americans survived thanks to the sustaining power of spirituals. Sacred and secular songs helped West African captives preserve indigenous orishas, religious rites, performance practices, and their deathless spirit.

For the West African, all song is at once sacred and functional. All music is spiritual. Across the generations, grandmothers recall their Nana and Big Mama humming young’ns to sleep and singing themselves through work and play. The songs most often recalled are two types of spirituals: folk and arranged.

Article

Amy Helene Kirschke

The examination of African American history and culture must necessarily include an extended exploration of the visual arts—an African American “visual vocabulary”—that examines how African Americans visually define their own collective identity and historical identity. W. E. B. Du Bois, the towering black intellectual of the twentieth century, stated that history must be explored and felt in order to know the responsibilities of the present; imagery was and is a part of that history. Past and present would meet in this imagery with frightful intensity and authentic tragedy. Art could be a means of trying to establish a new memory of the black American experience, and in doing so, discovering an identity both American and African.

Black society and white society saw the same events differently and then also recalled them differently African American visual artists had to be empowered with political rights and access to political power which ...