The Plight of The African Slave

Powerful Essays

Slavery was one of the darkest periods in African American history. Africans were taken from their homes in West Africa and brought to America to work on plantations. However, slavery was not something new as it existed in Africa before Europeans partook in it, but slavery in Africa was very different from slavery in America. During their voyage through the Middle Passage many slaves perished. Those who survived were sold and subjected to the harsh life on the plantations. When this happened, their authentic cultures were drastically changed from the way of life in their native homelands in Africa to life in the plantation society of the American colonies. In this essay, I will attempt to show how the enslaved Africans’ authentic culture was immensely disrupted by using the “Culture Conflict Model” as a guide. To aid in my analysis, I will be drawing upon the works of Olaudah Equiano, Venture Smith, Frederick Douglas, Harriet Jacobs, Frances E.W. Harper and William Wells Brown from The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, as well as from the movie NightJohn.

Family Structure/Organization

The family structure and organization in rural Africa was very different from that of the enslave ones in the plantation society of America. In Africa they were allowed to keep many wives and it was very legal. As, Venture Smith, a slave from Dukandarra in Guinea stated “My father had three wives. Polygamy want not uncommon….” (170-171). The Africans also had several children with the wives and the family was very closed-nit. However when the Africans were captured by the Europeans and brought to America, it caused disruptions in the family structure. After their arrival, there was a separation of husbands from ...

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Douglas, Frederick. “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave Written by Himself.” Gates and McKay. 387-483. Print

Equiano, Olaudah. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavas Vassa, the African, Written by Himself.” Gates and McKay. 189-213. Print

“Pick a Bale of Cotton.” Gates and McKay. 41. Print

Jacobs, Harriet. “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.” Gates and McKay 280-310. Print.

Smith, Venture. “A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, A Native of Africa: But Resident above Sixty Years in the United States of America.” Gates and McKay 170-185. Print

Nightjohn. Dir. Charles Burnett. Perf. Allison Jones, Beau Bridges, Carl Lumby, Bills Cobbs, Kathleen York, Lorraine Toussaint, Gabriel Casseus, John Herina, Tom Nowicki, Danny Nelson, Bill Gribble. Hallmark Entertainment. 1996. Streaming.
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