The myth of the Negro past a piece of literature by Melville J. Herskovits that seeks to defend the fact that the African Americans had a deep culture, which could not be drowned by the challenges of slavery. The origin and roots of the African Americans has been debated with some scholars suggesting that they are do not have roots they can associate with and hence being inclined to what their environment defines. Even though some of the existing black Americans may not have clear knowledge of where their ancestors came from, they are proud to be blacks and hence practice their culture. The fate that befell the slaves that were transported to America from Africa many years past did not imply that they would completely forget the culture. There was the acknowledgement that where they were, they had religious and cultural practices, which they taught the generations that came after them.
I agree with Herskovits who says that Negros have a deep culture, which is expressed in the way they handle the situations and circumstances they encounter everyday. Some of the crucial areas where the African culture is evident in the Negros are the arts, religious practices and their relations towards each other. A close observation of the black and I quickly recognize their unique features. Culture has become a distinguishing feature that has either made the white community to respect them or just to get amazed. Despite the negative attitude they have held against them simply because they are considered slaves, the white community has since come to realize and recognize that they have a culture that can be admired and even adopted.
In as much as some scholars deny the possibility of Negros having an influential culture, they have to admit that there was fear of such influence and that is why there was racial segregation. This was more so observed in schools where whites feared that the blacks would influence their children with the culture (Curto 274). There was no fear that the opposite would happen, that is, the capability of the whites influencing the whites. This is just one of the evidences that confirm to us how deep and influential the African culture is. It should also be noted that this was happening when the blacks were considered the minority. It even reached a point when the number of blacks was increasing that they were to be transported back to Africa. Such fears as expressed by the whites is a clear confirmation that the blacks had a culture they had carried from Africa which was likely to assimilate that of the whites.
Herskovits also points out the definition of the African culture as revealed by its arts, language and religious practices. The art of the African culture is revealed through its unique music, which has since been accepted and appreciated all across the world. I agree that the Negros have a unique singing talent which they later on adopted to be a source of income. This has also been taken over by even the whites who are currently pursuing music as a career. Music to the blacks was not necessarily something they had to go to school to learn the skills. The skills were deep-rooted within them as they sang either to acknowledge their heroes or just to grant the psyche as they went about their activities. As they sang through their activities, they were able to forget their predicaments and seek consolation in each other through music. The very first music celebrities were blacks who also launched into rock music. This quickly gained acknowledgment and within a short period, whites launched into the industry, establishing schools and establishing their careers in it.
Another area of influence that Herskovits points out is their religious inclination where they believed in the existence of ancestors. Christianity was considered a religion of the west, which the Negros were not quick to adopt. They worshiped in their own ways by performing traditional rituals as well as communing with their ancestors. I have observed this unity especially when they show full support to any of their own that became influential. Negros have a unifying factor, which is characterized by the worship of a specific person that promises them redemption. This in fact became a threat to the whites who were amazed at how the blacks, despite their circumstances could unite for a specific course. It was from such religious practiced of worshiping a human being that they started gaining recognition in the white dominated community. They were able to fight for their rights and subsequently minimize on the mistreatment that they received. Their religious practices were also associated with chants they believed linked to their ancestors (Herskovits 134). They have continued with this as they visited witch doctors to find solutions to their problems. As the whites so it work for the blacks, they slowly started adopting to the trend and seeking help from magicians.
Another important area of influence among the Negros, according to Herskovits is their language. The African culture is composed of different languages each with a unique accent. Despite the fact that the African Americans migrated to United States many years and ago and that some were born in the land, their accent is still unique which shows how their African background has influenced their speech. An African American will not need any form of introduction when they speak, they are so proud of their accent which has also expanded the art industry in United States. The accent, which is combined by their artistic nature in the film and music industry, culminates to a perfect entertainment. It is mainly for this reason that most of the film celebrities in United States and across the world are blacks. The African Americans have been able to nurture and build on their unique talents despite the challenges they have faced.
Curto 274 José. African And The Americas: Interconnections During The Slave Trade. London: Africa World Press, 2005.
Herskovits, Melville. The myth of the Negro past. University of Michigan: Beacon Press, 1990.