Lives of African Slaves Per Levine Black Culture and Black Consciousness Essay

Pages: 3 (841 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

Black Culture and Black Consciousness -- Lawrence Levine

Chris Rock vs. Lawrence Levine

Speaking extemporaneously in a 2007 Time interview, comedian Chris Rock characterized the era of European (and later) American enslavement of African blacks as the "worst thing that has ever been done to human beings." He also included a specific reference to the fact that, in addition to being shackled, beaten, and raped, the victims of slavery also had their culture and their religion stripped from them in the process of their enslavement. Lawrence Levine, author of Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom (Oxford, 1977) might disagree, based on his comprehensive analysis of the rich cultural traditions maintained by slaves throughout the Antebellum period.

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In his well-researched work, Levine details the extent to which the African slaves actually retained traditional forms of music, folklore, philosophy, and other elements of their culture of origin throughout their enslavement as a people. Levine's central thesis is that the African slaves did not lose their cultural traditions as a result of their enslavement and that they actually preserved their pre-enslavement culture and traditions. According to Levine, the eventual assimilation of the emancipated slaves into American society after the end of the Slavery era did not necessarily represent the replacement of traditional African culture with that of white American society to the degree commonly believed. Rather, the former slaves and their descendants actually retained the most important elements of their culture of origin, primarily in their music, folklore, humor, and philosophical understanding of their history and origins.

The Sacred World of Black Slaves

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Evaluating the Respective Perspectives Objectively

TOPIC: Essay on Lives of African Slaves Per Levine Black Culture and Black Consciousness Assignment

Notwithstanding the extensive factual record detailed by Levine, his analysis does not necessarily overcome the contrary view suggested by Rock. For one thing, Levine's analysis is substantially limited to those elements of African cultural traditions that survived the Slavery experience. It does not and cannot fully describe the extent to which those elements represent the vestiges of a much richer culture that existed before those from whom its record was gleaned after the fact were forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands and societies of origin. Furthermore, the representational aspect of so much of the culture detailed by Levine strongly suggests that what remained of African social culture that was left to analyze after the Antebellum period represents a culture that was fundamentally changed by virtue of the need to disguise it from white society.

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