Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cathedral Omission: Historical African Behaviors Affect Black America

From David Lamb's The Africans (my review here):

The African woman produces 70 percent of the food grown on the continent, according the the UN. She works longer and harder and has more responsibilities than her husband. She is the economic backbone of the community, the maker of family decisions, the initiator of social change, the harvester of crops. She is the hub around which the spokes of society turn. .... The outdoor marketplaces, the most important source of economic activity in any village, are run and staffed exclusively by women. in the fields it is only women you see with hoes and sickles. And the men? The elderly ones are apt to be sitting in the shades of the trees, smoking their pipes, drinking homemade beer, discussing their cattle - or saying nothing at all. The younger ones are either in school, in the city or in the local beer hall.  
"Our daughters are more important to us than the sons now," a woman with thirteen children told me in one Tanzanian town. "They have not forgotten how to work. But the sons are no good. They go off and get drunk, and when you find them, they have been knifed and killed."


Something sounds familiar. Women have a tradition of providing for the household, making family decisions, and are the economic backbone of the communities while men leave something to be desired for the household. Wait, the post-colonialism governments will step in and provide gender subsidies since they are pretty socialist, right? From the next page:

"I don't think our daughters will tolerate it. Their rights are bound to be broader than ours and their society will be much more open. In the end, though, the African man will still be the African man, and his main preoccupation will still be proving his virility."

The government will give ladies advancement but the men still got to be caught up in the machismo game. This sounds familiar.

One might theorize that in Africa, growing crops was pretty easy. Life centered around polygamous marriages with men focused on proving their manhood by hunting, warrior performance during tribal battles, owning a cow (which meant you could marry), and accumulating wives. That process lasted thousands of years. The Atlantic slave trade breaks this up and binds them in a strict slave system, jarring their way of life for some blacks 250 years and for others maybe 55 years (last slave ship was in 1808). Emancipation leaves them as second class citizens, with a firmly established 'other' with a culture to emulate or mimic for roughly 100 years. The destruction of the remnants of that restrictive system, the denigration of the 'other' by members of the 'other' group, and mechanized agricultural system combined with a welfare system that houses and feeds people so existence is easy again, allows African-Americans to revert back to patterns of behavior and family structure found back in the homeland. Culture might be that ingrained after thousands of years.

No course in Cornell's African American studies department mentions African traditions influencing modern black Americans. Cornell does analyze African art from ancients to Kanye. Harvard has one course that looks like it discusses religious traditions forming indigenous cultures, but not a single one on the African family life having an impact on black America's home life. Harvard has lots of African art classes and a course on "The Wire" (easy As). Once again, the cathedral will omit anything that deviates from their narrative. Repeat after the Harvard graduated working for the government, patterns of behavior in black family life and the social dysfunction that arises is somehow only the fault of slavery & structural racism and has NOTHING to do with behavioral patterns observed from their homeland that lasted for thousands of years.

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