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African-American culture refers to the contributions of
African Americans African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...
to the
culture of the United States The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western culture, Western origin, but its influences include White Americans, European American, Asian Americans, Asian American, African Americans, African American, Latin Americans, ...
, either as part of or distinct from mainstream American culture. The distinct identity many of African-American culture is rooted in the historical experience of the African-American people, including the
Middle Passage Image:Triangular trade.svg, 350px, Commercial goods from Europe were shipped to Africa for sale and traded for enslaved Africans. Africans were in turn brought to the regions depicted in blue, in what became known as the "Middle Passage". Enslaved ...
. The culture is both distinct and enormously influential on American and global worldwide culture as a whole. African-American culture is rooted in the blend between the native African cultures of
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
and
Central Africa Central Africa is a subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhab ...

Central Africa
and the
European culture The culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member affects the other. This ...
that has influenced and modified its development in the American South. Understanding its identity within the
culture of the United States The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western culture, Western origin, but its influences include White Americans, European American, Asian Americans, Asian American, African Americans, African American, Latin Americans, ...
, that is, in the anthropological sense, conscious of its origins as largely a blend of West and Central African cultures. Although slavery greatly restricted the ability for Africans to practice their original cultural traditions, many practices, values and beliefs survived, and over time have modified and/or blended with European cultures and other cultures such as that of
Native Americans Native Americans may refer to: Ethnic groups * Indigenous peoples of the Americas, the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America and their descendants * Native Americans in the United States * Indigenous peoples in Canada, the indigenous p ...
. African-American identity was established during the period of slavery, producing a dynamic culture that has had and continues to have a profound impact on American culture as a whole, as well as that of the broader world. Elaborate rituals and ceremonies were a significant part of African-Americans' ancestral culture. Many West African societies traditionally believed that spirits dwelled in their surrounding nature. From this disposition, they treated their environment with mindful care. They also generally believed that a spiritual life source existed after death and that ancestors in this spiritual realm could then mediate between the supreme Creator and the living. Honor and prayer were displayed to these "ancient ones", the spirit of that past. West Africans also believed in spiritual possession.Clayborn Carson, Emma J. Lapsansky-Werner, and Gary B. Nash, ''The Struggle for Freedom: A History of African Americans, Vol 1 to 1877'' (Prentice Hall, 2012), p. 18. At the beginning of the 18th century, Christianity began to spread across North Africa; this shift in religion began displacing traditional spiritual practices from
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
. The enslaved
Africans The population of Africa has population growth, grown rapidly over the past century and consequently shows a large youth bulge, further reinforced by a low life expectancy of below 50 years in some African countries. Total population as of 20 ...
brought this complex religious dynamic within their culture to America. This fusion of traditional beliefs from
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
with Christianity provided a commonplace for those practicing religion in Africa and America. After
emancipation Emancipation is any effort to procure Economic, social and cultural rights, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, political rights or Egalitarianism, equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally, i ...
, unique African-American traditions have continued to flourish, as distinctive traditions or radical innovations in music, art, literature, religion, cuisine, and other fields. 20th-century sociologists, such as
Gunnar Myrdal Karl Gunnar Myrdal ( ; ; 6 December 1898 – 17 May 1987) was a Swedish economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and c ...
, believed that African-Americans had lost most of their cultural ties with Africa. But, anthropological field research by
Melville Herskovits Melville Jean Herskovits (September 10, 1895 – February 25, 1963) was an American anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, ...
and others demonstrated that there has been a continuum of
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...
traditions among . The greatest influence of
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...
cultural practices on European culture is found below the Mason-Dixon line in the
American South The Southern United States, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, Dixie, the Southland, or simply the South, is a geographic and cultural region In geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geograph ...
. For many years African-American culture developed separately from
American culture The culture of the United States of America is primarily of Western culture, Western origin, but its influences include White Americans, European American, Asian Americans, Asian American, African Americans, African American, Latin Americans, ...
, both because of slavery and the persistence of racial discrimination in America, as well as African-American slave descendants' desire to create and maintain their own traditions. Today, African-American culture has influenced American culture and yet still remains a distinct cultural body.


African-American cultural history

From the earliest days of
American slavery Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for another person (a slave ...
in the 17th century, slave owners sought to exercise control over their slaves by attempting to strip them of their
African culture The Culture in Africa is varied and manifold, consisting of a mixture of countries with various tribes that each have their own unique characteristic from the continent of Africa. It is a product of the diverse populations that today inhabit the c ...

African culture
. The physical isolation and societal marginalization of
African slaves Slavery has historically been widespread in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), conventio ...
and, later, of their free progeny, however, facilitated the retention of significant elements of traditional culture among
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...
s in the New World generally, and in the United States in particular. Slave owners deliberately tried to repress independent political or cultural organization in order to deal with the many slave rebellions or acts of resistance that took place in the United States,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
,
Haiti Haiti (; ht, Ayiti ; french: Haïti ), officially the Republic of Haiti (; ), and formerly known as Hayti, is a country located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles archipelago of the Caribbean Sea, to the east of Cuba and J ...

Haiti
, and the Dutch Guyanas. African cultures, slavery, slave rebellions, and the civil rights movement have shaped African-American religious, familial, political, and economic behaviors. The imprint of Africa is evident in a myriad of ways: in politics, economics, language, music, hairstyles, fashion, dance, religion, cuisine, and worldview. In turn, African-American culture has had a pervasive, transformative impact on many elements of mainstream American culture. This process of mutual creative exchange is called
creolization Creolization is the process through which creole languages and cultures emerge. Creolization was first used by linguists to explain how contact languages Language contact occurs when speakers of two or more languages A language is a structure ...
. Over time, the culture of African slaves and their descendants has been ubiquitous in its impact on not only the dominant American culture, but on world culture as well.


Oral tradition

Slaveholders limited or prohibited education of enslaved African-Americans because they feared it might empower their chattel and inspire or enable emancipatory ambitions. In the United States, the legislation that denied slaves formal education likely contributed to their maintaining a strong oral tradition, a common feature of indigenous or native
African culture The Culture in Africa is varied and manifold, consisting of a mixture of countries with various tribes that each have their own unique characteristic from the continent of Africa. It is a product of the diverse populations that today inhabit the c ...

African culture
. African-based oral traditions became the primary means of preserving history, mores, and other cultural information among the people. This was consistent with the ''
griot A griot (; ; : jali or jeli (in : , ''djeli'' or ''djéli'' in French spelling); : kevel or kewel / okawul;. Regional Office for Education in Africa, ''Educafrica, Numéro 11'', (ed. Unesco, Regional Office for Education in Africa, 1984), p. ...

griot
'' practices of oral history in many native
African culture The Culture in Africa is varied and manifold, consisting of a mixture of countries with various tribes that each have their own unique characteristic from the continent of Africa. It is a product of the diverse populations that today inhabit the c ...

African culture
and other cultures that did not rely on the written word. Many of these cultural elements have been passed from generation to generation through storytelling. The folktales provided African-Americans the opportunity to inspire and educate one another. Examples of
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...

African American
folktales include
trickster In mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that som ...

trickster
tales of
Br'er Rabbit Br'er Rabbit (Brother Rabbit), also spelled Bre'r Rabbit or Brer Rabbit, is a central figure in an oral tradition passed down by African Americans, African-Americans of the Southern United States. He is a trickster who succeeds by his wits rathe ...
and
hero A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face of danger, combats adversity through feats of ingenuity, courage Courage (also called bravery or valour) is the choice and willing ...
ic tales such as that of John Henry. The ''
Uncle Remus Uncle Remus is the fictional title character and narrator of a collection of African American folktales compiled and adapted by Joel Chandler Harris Joel Chandler Harris (December 9, 1848 – July 3, 1908) was an American journalist, fict ...
'' stories by
Joel Chandler Harris Joel Chandler Harris (December 9, 1848 – July 3, 1908) was an American journalist, fiction writer, and folklorist best known for his collection of Uncle Remus Uncle Remus is the fictional title character and narrator of a collection of A ...

Joel Chandler Harris
helped to bring African-American folk tales into mainstream adoption. Harris did not appreciate the complexity of the stories nor their potential for a lasting impact on society. Other narratives that appear as important, recurring motifs in African-American culture are the " Signifying Monkey", "The Ballad of Shine", and the legend of
Stagger Lee "Stagger Lee", also known as "Stagolee" and other variants, is a popular American folk song Folk music includes traditional folk music and the genre that evolved from it during the 20th-century folk revival. Some types of folk music may be ca ...
. The legacy of the African-American oral tradition manifests in diverse forms. African-American preachers tend to perform rather than simply speak. The emotion of the subject is carried through the speaker's tone, volume, and cadence, which tend to mirror the rising action, climax, and descending action of the sermon. The meaning of this manner of preaching is not easily understood by
European Americans European Americans (also referred to as Euro-Americans) are Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nationals of the United States of America.; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney Gene ...

European Americans
or others of non-African origin. Often song, dance, verse, and structured pauses are placed throughout the sermon.
Call and response Call and response is a form of interaction between a speaker and an audience in which the speaker's statements ("calls") are punctuated by responses from the listeners. This form is also used in music, where it falls under the general category of A ...
is another pervasive element of the African-American oral tradition. It manifests in worship in what is commonly referred to as the "amen corner". In direct contrast to the tradition present in American and European cultures, it is an acceptable and common audience reaction to interrupt and affirm the speaker. This pattern of interaction is also in evidence in music, particularly in blues and jazz forms. Hyperbolic and provocative, even incendiary, rhetoric is another aspect of African-American oral tradition often evident in the pulpit in a tradition sometimes referred to as "prophetic speech". Modernity and migration of
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being t ...

African American
communities to the North has had a history of placing strain on the retention of African American cultural practices and traditions. The urban and radically different spaces in which black culture was being produced raised fears in anthropologists and sociologists that the southern African American folk aspect of black popular culture were at risk of being lost in history. The study over the fear of losing black popular cultural roots from the South have a topic of interest to many anthropologists, who among them include
Zora Neale Hurston Zora may refer to: *Zora (given name) *Zora language *Zora (spider), ''Zora'' (spider), a genus of spider in the family Zoridae *Zora (TV Series), a Kenyan soap opera-drama series *Zoras, a fictional race in ''The Legend of Zelda'' series *Zora Neal ...

Zora Neale Hurston
. Through her extensive studies of Southern folklore and cultural practices, Hurston has claimed that the popular Southern
folklore Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psycholog ...

folklore
traditions and practices are not dying off. Instead they are evolving, developing, and re-creating themselves in different regions. Other aspects of African-American oral tradition include
the dozens The Dozens is a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in African American, black communities of the United States, where participants insult each other until one gives up. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an aud ...
, signifying,
trash talk Trash-talk is a form of insult usually found in sports events, although it is not exclusive to sports or similarly characterized events. It is often used to intimidate the opposition and/or make them less confident in their abilities as to win ea ...
, rhyming, semantic inversion and word play, many of which have found their way into mainstream American popular culture and become international phenomena.Michael L. Hecht, Ronald L. Jackson, Sidney A. Ribeau (2003). ''African American Communication: Exploring Identity and Culture?'' Routledge. pp. 3–245.
Spoken-word poetry Spoken word refers to an Oral tradition, oral poetic performance art that is based mainly on the poem as well as the performer's aesthetic qualities. It is a late 20th century continuation of an ancient oral artistic tradition that focuses on th ...
is another example of how the African-American oral tradition has influenced modern popular culture. Spoken-word artists employ the same techniques as African-American preachers including movement, rhythm, and audience participation.
Rap music Rapping (also rhyming, spitting, emceeing or MCing) is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular", which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or musi ...
from the 1980s and beyond has been seen as an extension of African oral culture.


Harlem Renaissance

The first major public recognition of African-American culture occurred during the
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics centered in Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded ro ...
pioneered by
Alain Locke Alain Leroy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. Distinguished in 1907 as the first African-American Rhodes Scholar, Locke became known as the philosophical archite ...
. In the 1920s and 1930s, African-American music, literature, and art gained wide notice. Authors such as
Zora Neale Hurston Zora may refer to: *Zora (given name) *Zora language *Zora (spider), ''Zora'' (spider), a genus of spider in the family Zoridae *Zora (TV Series), a Kenyan soap opera-drama series *Zoras, a fictional race in ''The Legend of Zelda'' series *Zora Neal ...

Zora Neale Hurston
and
Nella Larsen Nellallitea "Nella" Larsen (born Nellie Walker; April 13, 1891 – March 30, 1964) was an American novelist. Working as a nurse and a librarian, she published two novels, '' Quicksand'' (1928) and ''Passing (novel), Passing'' (1929), and a few shor ...
and poets such as
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
,
Claude McKay Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay OJ (September 15, 1890See Wayne F. Cooper, ''Claude McKay, Rebel Sojourner In The Harlem Renaissance (New York, Schocken, 1987) p. 377 n. 19. As Cooper's authoritative biography explains, McKay's family predated h ...

Claude McKay
, and
Countee Cullen Countee Cullen (born Countee LeRoy Porter; May 30, 1903 – January 9, 1946) was an American poet, novelist, children's writer, and playwright, particularly well known during the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual an ...
wrote works describing the African-American experience.
Jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human s ...
,
swing Swing or swinging may refer to: Apparatus * Swing (seat), a hanging seat that swings back and forth * Russian swing, a swing-like circus apparatus * Sex swing, a type of harness for sexual intercourse * Swing ride, an amusement park ride consistin ...
,
blues Blues is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in ...

blues
and other musical forms entered American
popular music Popular music is music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human societies. General include common elements such as (which governs and ), (and its ...
. African-American artists such as William H. Johnson and Palmer Hayden created unique works of art featuring African Americans. The Harlem Renaissance was also a time of increased political involvement for African Americans. Among the notable African-American political movements founded in the early 20th century are the
Universal Negro Improvement Association The Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) is a black nationalist fraternal organization founded by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaicans, Jamaican immigrant to the United States. The Pan-African organization enj ...
and the
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are legal Law is a system of rules created and law enforcement, enforced through ...
. The
Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and political organization which was founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930. A Black nationalism, black nationalist organization, the NOI focuses its attention on the African dia ...
, a notable quasi-
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
ic religious movement, also began in the early 1930s.


African-American cultural movement

The
Black Power Black Power is a political slogan The following is a list of notable 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st-century political slogan A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a clan, political slogan, political, Advertising slogan, commercial, re ...

Black Power
movement of the 1960s and 1970s followed in the wake of the
non-violent Nonviolence is the personal practice of not causing harm to one's self and others under every condition. It may come from the belief that hurting people, animals and/or the environment is unnecessary to achieve an outcome and it may refer to a g ...
Civil Rights Movement The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North ...
. The movement promoted racial pride and ethnic cohesion in contrast to the focus on integration of the Civil Rights Movement, and adopted a more militant posture in the face of racism. It also inspired a new renaissance in African-American literary and artistic expression generally referred to as the African-American or "
Black Arts Movement The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups o ...
". The works of
popular Popularity or social status is the quality of being well liked, admired or well known to a particular group. Popular may also refer to: In sociology * Mainstream, the quality of being common, well received, in demand, widely understood ** See ...
recording artists such as
Nina Simone Eunice Kathleen Waymon (February 21, 1933 – April 21, 2003), known professionally as Nina Simone, was an American singer, songwriter, musician, arranger, and Civil rights movement, civil rights activist. Her music spanned a broad range of ...

Nina Simone
(" Young, Gifted and Black") and
The Impressions The Impressions were an United States, American music group originally formed in 1958. Their repertoire includes doo-wop, gospel music, gospel, soul music, soul, and Rhythm and blues, R&B. The group was founded as the ''Roosters'' by Chattanooga, ...
("
Keep On Pushing ''Keep On Pushing'' is a studio album by the Impressions, released on ABC Records, ABC-Paramount in 1964. The album reached number 8 on the Billboard 200, ''Billboard'' 200 chart and number 4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The title track, "Ke ...
"), as well as the poetry, fine arts, and literature of the time, shaped and reflected the growing racial and political consciousness. Among the most prominent writers of the African-American Arts Movement were poet
Nikki Giovanni Yolande Cornelia "Nikki" Giovanni Jr. (born June 7, 1943) is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world's most well-known African-American poets,Jane M. Barstow, Yolanda Williams Page (eds)"Nikki Giovanni" ''En ...

Nikki Giovanni
; poet and publisher Don L. Lee, who later became known as Haki Madhubuti; poet and playwright Leroi Jones, later known as
Amiri Baraka Amiri Baraka (born Everett LeRoi Jones; October 7, 1934 – January 9, 2014), previously known as LeRoi Jones and Imamu Amear Baraka, was an American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism. He was the author of numerous boo ...

Amiri Baraka
; and
Sonia Sanchez Sonia Sanchez (born Wilsonia Benita Driver; September 9, 1934) is an American poet, writer, and professor. She was a leading figure in the Black Arts Movement and has authored over a dozen books of poetry, as well as short stories, critical essays ...

Sonia Sanchez
. Other influential writers were
Ed Bullins Ed Bullins (born July 2, 1935 in Philadelphia Philadelphia, colloquially Philly, is a city in the state of Pennsylvania in the United States. It is the sixth-most populous city in the United States and the most populous city in the state o ...
,
Dudley Randall Dudley Randall (January 14, 1914 – August 5, 2000) was an African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, ...
,
Mari Evans Mari Evans (July 16, 1919 – March 10, 2017) was an African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black ...
, June Jordan,
Larry Neal Larry Neal or Lawrence Neal (September 5, 1937 – January 6, 1981) was a scholar of African-American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from ...
, and Ahmos Zu-Bolton. Another major aspect of the African-American Arts Movement was the infusion of the African aesthetic, a return to a collective cultural sensibility and ethnic pride that was much in evidence during the Harlem Renaissance and in the celebration of ''
Négritude ''Négritude'' (from French "Nègre" and "-itude" to denote a condition it can be translated as "Blackness") is a framework of critique and literary theory, developed mainly by francophone This article details the geographical distribution of s ...
'' among the artistic and literary circles in the US, Caribbean, and the African continent nearly four decades earlier: the idea that "". During this time, there was a resurgence of interest in, and an embrace of, elements of African culture within African-American culture that had been suppressed or devalued to conform to Eurocentric America. styles, such as the
afro An afro is a natural growth of curly textured hair, in any length kinky hair texture (also known as a natural), or specifically styled with chemical curling products by individuals with naturally curly Curly or Curley is a surname, given name ...

afro
, and African clothing, such as the
dashiki The dashiki is a colorful garment that covers the top half of the body, worn mostly in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , a ...
, gained popularity. More importantly, the African-American aesthetic encouraged personal pride and political awareness among African Americans.


Music

African-American music is rooted in the typically
polyrhythmic 350px, Polyrhythm: Triplets over duplets in all four beatsSlenczynska (1976). ''Music At Your Fingertips: Advice For The Artist And Amateur On Playing The Piano'', p. 43. . () Polyrhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more rhythm Rhy ...
music of the
ethnic group An ethnic group or ethnicity is a grouping of people A people is any plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or self-consciousn ...
s of Africa, specifically those in the
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...

Western
,
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
ean, and Central and Southern regions. African oral traditions, nurtured in slavery, encouraged the use of music to pass on history, teach lessons, ease suffering, and relay messages. The
African African(s) may refer to: * Anything from or pertaining to the continent of Africa: ** People who are native to Africa, descendants of natives of Africa, or individuals who trace their ancestry to indigenous inhabitants of Africa *** Ethnic groups ...

African
pedigree of African-American music is evident in some common elements:
call and response Call and response is a form of interaction between a speaker and an audience in which the speaker's statements ("calls") are punctuated by responses from the listeners. This form is also used in music, where it falls under the general category of ...
,
syncopation Syncopation is a musical term meaning a variety of rhythms played together to make a piece of music, making part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat. More simply, syncopation is "a disturbance or interruption of the regular flow of rh ...
, percussion,
improvisation Improvisation is the activity of making or doing something not planned beforehand, using whatever can be found. Improvisation in the performing arts is a very spontaneous performance without specific or scripted preparation. The skills of imp ...
,
swung note In music, the term ''swing'' has two main uses. Colloquially, it is used to describe the propulsive quality or "feel" of a rhythm Rhythm (from , ''rhythmos'', "any regular motion, " generally means a " marked by the regulated succession of s ...
s,
blue note Blue Note Records is an American jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the ele ...

blue note
s, the use of
falsetto ''Falsetto'' (, ; Italian language, Italian diminutive of , "false") is the vocal register occupying the frequency range just above the modal voice register and overlapping with it by approximately one octave. It is produced by the vibration of t ...

falsetto
,
melisma Melisma (Greek Language, Greek: , ''melisma'', song, air, melody; from , ''melos'', song, melody, plural: ''melismata'') is the singing of a single syllable of lyrics, text while moving between several different Musical note, notes in succession. ...
, and complex multi-part harmony. During slavery, Africans in America blended traditional European
hymn A hymn is a type of song A song is a musical composition Musical composition can refer to an piece or work of , either or , the of a musical piece or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create ...

hymn
s with African elements to create
spirituals Spirituals (also known as Negro spirituals, Spiritual music, or African-American spirituals) is a genre of Christian music Christian music is music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the e ...
. The
banjo The banjo is a stringed instrument with a thin membrane stretched over a frame or cavity to form a resonator. The membrane is typically circular, and usually made of plastic, or occasionally animal skin. Early forms of the instrument were fashio ...

banjo
was the first African derived instrument to be played and built in the United States. Slaveholders discovered African-American slaves used
drums The drum is a member of the percussion A percussion instrument is a musical instrument that is sounded by being struck or scraped by a beater (percussion), beater including attached or enclosed beaters or Rattle (percussion beate ...

drums
to communicate. Many African Americans sing "
Lift Every Voice and Sing "Lift Every Voice and Sing" – often referred to as the "Black national anthem" in the United States – is a hymn written as a poem by James Weldon Johnson (1871–1938) in 1900 and set to music by his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson (1873–1954) ...
" in addition to the American
national anthem A national anthem is a patriotic Patriotism or national pride is the feeling of love, devotion, and sense of attachment to a homeland and alliance with other citizens who share the same sentiment. This attachment can be a combination of ...
, "
The Star-Spangled Banner "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from the "Defence of Fort M'Henry", a poem written on September 14, 1814, by 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bo ...
", or in lieu of it. Written by
James Weldon Johnson James Weldon Johnson (June 17, 1871June 26, 1938) was an American writer and civil rights activist. He was married to civil rights activist Grace Nail Johnson. Johnson was a leader of the NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored ...

James Weldon Johnson
and
John Rosamond Johnson, 180px Image:Rosamondjohnson.jpg, 180px, J. Rosamond Johnson, photo by Carl Van Vechten (1933) John Rosamond Johnson (August 11, 1873 – November 11, 1954, usually referred to as J. Rosamond Johnson) was an American composer and singer during the ...
in 1900 to be performed for the birthday of
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
, the song was, and continues to be, a popular way for African Americans to recall past struggles and express ethnic solidarity, faith, and hope for the future. The song was adopted as the "Negro National Anthem" by the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement ...
in 1919. Many African-American children are taught the song at school, church or by their families. "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing" traditionally is sung immediately following, or instead of, "The Star-Spangled Banner" at events hosted by African-American churches, schools, and other organizations. In the 19th century, as the result of the
blackface Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup Marcus Stewart wears face make-up in Oresteia by Aeschylus, adapted by Stairwell Theater, 2019 Theatrical makeup is makeup that is used to assist in creating the appearance of the Character (arts), ch ...
minstrel show The minstrel show, also called minstrelsy, was an American form of racist Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority S ...
, African-American music entered mainstream American society. By the early 20th century, several musical forms with origins in the African-American community had transformed American popular music. Aided by the technological innovations of radio and phonograph records,
ragtime Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a musical style that enjoyed its peak popularity between 1895 and 1919. Its cardinal trait is its syncopated Syncopation is a musical term meaning a variety of rhythms played together to ...
,
jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the aspects of all human s ...
,
blues Blues is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in ...

blues
, and
swing Swing or swinging may refer to: Apparatus * Swing (seat), a hanging seat that swings back and forth * Russian swing, a swing-like circus apparatus * Sex swing, a type of harness for sexual intercourse * Swing ride, an amusement park ride consistin ...
also became popular overseas, and the 1920s became known as the
Jazz Age The Jazz Age was a period in the 1920s and 1930s in which jazz Jazz is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music Music is the of arranging s in time through the of melody, ...
. The early 20th century also saw the creation of the first African-American
Broadway show Broadway theatre,Although ''theater'' is the generally preferred spelling in the United States (see American and British English spelling differences Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within differen ...
s, films such as
King Vidor King Wallis Vidor (; February 8, 1894 – November 1, 1982) was an American film director, film producer, and screenwriter whose 67-year film-making career successfully spanned the silent and sound eras. His works are distinguished by a vivid, ...
's ''Hallelujah!'', and operas such as
George Gershwin George Gershwin (; born Jacob Gershwine; September 26, 1898 – July 11, 1937) was an American pianist and composer, whose compositions spanned both popular and classical genres. Among his best-known works are the orchestral compositions ' ...

George Gershwin
's ''
Porgy and Bess ''Porgy and Bess'' () is an English-language opera Opera is a form of theatre Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers, usually actor, actors or actresses, to present the experience of ...

Porgy and Bess
''.
Rock and roll Rock and roll (often written as rock & roll, rock 'n' roll, or rock 'n roll) is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and st ...

Rock and roll
,
doo wop Doo-wop (also spelled doowop and doo wop) is a genre of rhythm and blues Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B or R'n'B, is a genre of popular music Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large a ...
,
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...

soul
, and
R&B Rhythm and blues, often abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African-American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African ...
developed in the mid-20th century. These genres became very popular in white audiences and were influences for other genres such as surf. During the 1970s,
the dozens The Dozens is a game of spoken words between two contestants, common in African American, black communities of the United States, where participants insult each other until one gives up. It is customary for the Dozens to be played in front of an aud ...
, an urban African-American tradition of using rhyming slang to put down one's enemies (or friends), and the
West Indian A West Indian is a native Native may refer to: People * Jus soli, citizenship by right of birth * Indigenous peoples, peoples with a set of specific rights based on their historical ties to a particular territory ** Native Americans (disambigu ...
tradition of toasting developed into a new form of music. In the
South Bronx The South Bronx is an area of the New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', ...
the half speaking, half singing rhythmic street talk of "rapping" grew into the hugely successful cultural force known as
hip hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabil ...

hip hop
.


Contemporary

Hip hop would become a multicultural movement, however, it still remained important to many African Americans. The African-American Cultural Movement of the 1960s and 1970s also fueled the growth of
funk Funk is a music genre A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from ''musical form'' and musical style, although in pra ...
and later
hip-hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member a ...
forms such as
rap Rapping (also rhyming, spitting, emceeing or MCing) is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular", which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or mus ...
,
hip house Hip house, also known as rap house or house rap, is a musical genre that mixes elements of house music and Hip hop music, hip hop, that originated in both London, United Kingdom and Chicago, United States in the mid to late 1980s. History Minor ...
,
new jack swing New jack swing, new jack or swingbeatSilverton, Peter. is a Fusion (music), fusion genre that fuses the rhythms and music production, production techniques of Hip hop music, hip hop and dance-pop with the urban contemporary sound of Contemporary R ...
, and
go-go Go-go is a style of music with an emphasis on live audience call and response Call and response is a form of interaction between a speaker and an audience in which the speaker's statements ("calls") are punctuated by responses from the listene ...
.
House music House is a genre of electronic dance music Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music Electronic music is music that employs electronic musical i ...
was created in black communities in Chicago in the 1980s. African-American music has experienced far more widespread acceptance in American popular music in the 21st century than ever before. In addition to continuing to develop newer musical forms, modern artists have also started a rebirth of older genres in the form of genres such as neo soul and modern funk-inspired groups. In
contemporary art Contemporary art is the art Art is a diverse range of (products of) human activities Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and ...

contemporary art
, black subject matter has been used as raw material to portray the Black experience and aesthetics. The way Blacks' facial features were once conveyed as
stereotypical Police officers buying doughnuts and coffee, an example of perceived stereotypical behavior in North America. Social psychology Social psychology is the Science, scientific study of how the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of individu ...
in media and
entertainment Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest In finance Finance is the study of financial institutions, financial markets and how they operate within the financial system. It is concerned with the creatio ...

entertainment
continues to be an influence within art. Dichotomies arise from artworks such as ''Open Casket'' by
Dana Schutz Dana Schutz (born 1976 Livonia, Michigan) is an American artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York Brooklyn () is a Boroughs of New York City, borough of New York City, coextensive with Kings County, in the U.S. state of New York (state ...
based on the murder of
Emmett Till Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African Americans, African American who was Lynching in the United States, lynched in Mississippi in 1955, after being accused of offending a white woman in her family's gr ...
to remove the painting and destroy it from the way Black pain is conveyed. Meanwhile, Black artists such as
Kerry James Marshall Kerry James Marshall (born October 17, 1955) is an American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), co ...
portrays the Black body as
empowerment Empowerment is the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people and in communities. This enables them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming strong ...

empowerment
and Black
invisibility Invisibility is the state of an object that cannot be seen Seen may refer to: * Seen (album), ''Seen'' (album), by Tom Bailey * Seen (artist), graffiti artist * Seen (Winterthur), a district of the city of Winterthur, Switzerland * Arabic lett ...

invisibility
.
Mumble rap Mumble rap (often referred to as "SoundCloud rap") is a loosely defined microgenre A microgenre is a specialized or niche genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socia ...
originated from
African American Vernacular English African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, ), also referred to as Black Vernacular, Black English Vernacular (BEV), Black Vernacular English (BVE), occasionally as Ebonics (a colloquial, controversial Controversy is a state of prolonged public ...
. Another popular African-American genre is
trap music Trap is a subgenre of hip hop music Hip hop music or hip-hop music, also known as rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans. Puerto Ricans and Jamaicans also played a central role ...
. African-American music influenced other countries such as
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
. Hip-hop has been adopted by
White Americans White Americans are Americans Americans are the and of the .; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney General''897 F.3d 491, 494 n.3 (3d Cir. 2018) (" and are not ous. While all citizens are nationals, not all nationals are citizens."); ''United St ...
. Since the 1980s, White rappers such as
Eminem Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), known professionally as Eminem (; formerly stylized as EMINƎM), is an American rapper, songwriter, and record producer. Eminem is among the best-selling music artists of all time, with est ...

Eminem
, and
Vanilla Ice Robert Matthew Van Winkle (born October 31, 1967), known professionally as Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, actor, and television host. Born in South Dallas, and raised in Texas and South Florida, Ice released his debut album, ''Hooked'', ...

Vanilla Ice
have emerged.
Mumble rap Mumble rap (often referred to as "SoundCloud rap") is a loosely defined microgenre A microgenre is a specialized or niche genre Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socia ...
conforms to African-American Vernacular English. Mumble rap emerged in 2012 with Atlanta rapper
Future The future is the time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a co ...
’s song “Tony Montana”.
Playboi Carti Jordan Terrell Carter (born September 13, 1996), known professionally as Playboi Carti, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. He is recognized for his experimental musical style, mumbled lyrics, gothic fashion, and mysterious public per ...

Playboi Carti
transition to mumble rap received him more attention and radio play which he addressed in his song “R.I.P.” claiming he ‘bought a crib and made a million off that mumbling shit’. Famous new school rappers of African American descent are
Lil Wayne Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (born September 27, 1982), known professionally as Lil Wayne, is an American rapper and record executive. He is regarded by many contemporaries as one of the most influential hip hop artists of his generation, and oft ...

Lil Wayne
,
Drake Drake may refer to: Animals * A male duck People and fictional characters * Drake (surname), a list of people and fictional characters with the family name * Drake (given name), a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * ...
,
Kanye West Ye ( ; born Kanye Omari West, June 8, 1977) ( ), more commonly known by his birth name, is an American rapper, record producer, and fashion designer. Born in Atlanta Atlanta () is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities ...

Kanye West
,
Nicki Minaj Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Nicki Minaj (), is a Trinidadian-born rapper, singer, and songwriter. She is known for her animated flow Flow may refer to: Science and technology * ...

Nicki Minaj
,
Chief Keef Keith Farrelle Cozart (born August 15, 1995), better known by his stage name Chief Keef, is an American rapper. Cozart's music first became popular during his teen years in the early 2010s among high school students from Chicago's South Chicago ...
,
Soulja Boy DeAndre Cortez Way (born July 28, 1990), known professionally as Soulja Boy Tell 'Em or simply Soulja Boy, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, actor, streamer, and entrepreneur. In September 2007, his debut single " Crank That ( ...

Soulja Boy
,
Rick Ross William Leonard Roberts II (born January 28, 1976), known professionally as Rick Ross, is an American rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and music executive, record executive. Prior to releasing his debut single, "Hustlin'" in 2006, Ross was the ...

Rick Ross
,
2 Chainz Tauheed K. Epps (born September 12, 1977), known professionally as 2 Chainz, is an American rapper, songwriter, media personality, and basketball player. Born and raised in College Park, Georgia College Park is a city in Fulton Fulton may refe ...
,
Rae Sremmurd Rae Sremmurd (; "Ear Drummers" spelled backwards) is an American hip hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as we ...

Rae Sremmurd
and
50 Cent Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), known professionally as 50 Cent, is an American rapper, songwriter, television producer, actor, and entrepreneur. Known for his impact in the hip hop industry, he has been described as a "master ...

50 Cent
.


The arts


Dance

African-American dance African-American dance has developed within Black American communities in everyday spaces, rather than in studios, schools or companies.Ross, Frank Russell. ''Soul Dancing! The Essential African American Cultural Dance Book''. Reston: National Danc ...
, like other aspects of African-American culture, finds its earliest roots in the dances of the hundreds of African ethnic groups that made up the enslaved African population in the Americas as well as in traditional folk dances from Europe. Dance in the African tradition, and thus in the tradition of slaves, was a part of both everyday life and special occasions. Many of these traditions such as ,
ring shout A shout or ring shout is an ecstatic, transcendent religious ritual, first practiced by African slaves Slavery has historically been widespread in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent ...
s, and other elements of African body language survive as elements of modern dance. In the 19th century, African-American dance began to appear in
minstrel show The minstrel show, also called minstrelsy, was an American form of racist Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority S ...
s. These shows often presented African Americans as
caricatures by Max Beerbohm (1896), taken from ''Caricatures of Twenty-five Gentlemen'' A caricature is a rendered image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way through sketching, pencil strokes, or through other artistic drawin ...
for ridicule to large audiences. The first African-American dance to become popular with
white White is the lightest color Color (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the Unite ...
dancers was the
cakewalk thumbnail, Painting from 1913 The cakewalk or cake walk was a dance developed from the "prize walks" (dance contests with a cake awarded as the prize) held in the mid-19th century, generally at get-togethers on black slave Slavery and en ...

cakewalk
in 1891. Later dances to follow in this tradition include the
Charleston Charleston most commonly refers to: * Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charle ...
, the
Lindy Hop , Sacramento, California ) , image_map = Sacramento County California Incorporated and Unincorporated areas Sacramento Highlighted.svg , mapsize = 250x200px , map_caption = ...
, the
Jitterbug Jitterbug is a generalized term used to describe swing dancing Swing dance is a group of dances that developed with the swing music, swing style of jazz music in the 1920s–1940s, with the origins of each dance predating the popular "swing ...

Jitterbug
and the swing.''Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader''. Julie Malnig. Edition: illustrated. University of Illinois Press. 2009, pp. 19–23. During the
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics centered in Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded ro ...
, African-American
Broadway show Broadway theatre,Although ''theater'' is the generally preferred spelling in the United States (see American and British English spelling differences Despite the various English dialects spoken from country to country and within differen ...
s such as ''
Shuffle Along ''Shuffle Along'' is a musical composed by Eubie Blake James Hubert "Eubie" Blake (February 7, 1887 – February 12, 1983) was an American pianist, lyricist, and composer of ragtime Ragtime – also spelled rag-time or rag time – is a m ...
'' helped to establish and legitimize African-American dancers. African-American dance forms such as
tap Tap, Taps, TAP or tapped may refer to: Arts and entertainment Film * Tap (film), ''Tap'' (film), a 1989 film * Taps (film), ''Taps'' (film), a 1981 American drama film * Taps (2006 film), ''Taps'' (2006 film), a short film * Tapped (film), ''Tapp ...
, a combination of African and European influences, gained widespread popularity thanks to dancers such as
Bill Robinson Bill Robinson, nicknamed Bojangles (born Luther Robinson; May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949) was an American tap dancer, actor, and singer, the best known and the most highly paid Black American entertainer in America during the first half of ...

Bill Robinson
and were used by leading white choreographers, who often hired African-American dancers. Contemporary African-American dance is descended from these earlier forms and also draws influence from African and Caribbean dance forms. Groups such as the
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT) is a modern dance dance company, company based in New York City. It was founded in 1958 by choreographer and dancer Alvin Ailey. It is made up of 32 dancers, led by artistic director Robert Battle an ...
have continued to contribute to the growth of this form. Modern popular dance in America is also greatly influenced by African-American dance. American popular dance has also drawn many influences from African-American dance most notably in the
hip-hop Hip hop or hip-hop is a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member a ...
genre. One of the uniquely African-American forms of dancing,
turfing Turfing (or turf dancing) is a form of street dance that originated in Oakland Oakland is the largest city and the county seat A county seat is an administrative center, seat of government, or capital city of a county or Parish (administrativ ...
, emerged from social and political movements in the East Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area. Turfing is a hood dance and a response to the loss of African-American lives, police brutality, and race relations in Oakland, California. The dance is an expression of Blackness, and one that integrates concepts of solidarity, social support, peace, and the discourse of the state of black people in our current social structures.
Twerking Twerking () is a type of dance Dance is a performing art art form, form consisting of sequences of movement, either improvised or purposefully selected. This movement has aesthetic and often symbolism (arts), symbolic value. Dance can b ...

Twerking
is an African-American dance similar to dances from
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
in Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Somalia and the Congo.


Art

From its early origins in slave communities, through the end of the 20th century, African-American art has made a vital contribution to the art of the United States. During the period between the 17th century and the early 19th century, art took the form of small drums, quilts, wrought-iron figures, and ceramic vessels in the southern United States. These artifacts have similarities with comparable crafts in West and Central Africa. In contrast, African-American artisans like the New England–based engraver Scipio Moorhead and the Baltimore portrait painter Joshua Johnson (painter), Joshua Johnson created art that was conceived in a thoroughly western European fashion. During the 19th century, Harriet Powers made quilts in rural Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia, United States that are now considered among the finest examples of 19th-century Southern quilting. Later in the 20th century, The Quilts of Gees Bend, the women of Gee's Bend developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional African-American quilts with a geometric simplicity that developed separately but was like that of Amish quilts and modern art. After the American Civil War, museums and galleries began more frequently to display the work of African-American artists. Cultural expression in mainstream venues was still limited by the dominant European aesthetic and by racial prejudice. To increase the visibility of their work, many African-American artists traveled to Europe where they had greater freedom. It was not until the
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics centered in Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded ro ...
that more
European Americans European Americans (also referred to as Euro-Americans) are Americans Americans are the Citizenship of the United States, citizens and United States nationality law, nationals of the United States of America.; ; ''Ricketts v. Attorney Gene ...

European Americans
began to pay attention to African-American art in America. During the 1920s, artists such as Raymond Barthé, Aaron Douglas, Augusta Savage, and photographer James Van Der Zee became well known for their work. During the Great Depression, new opportunities arose for these and other African-American artists under the Works Progress Administration, WPA. In later years, other programs and institutions, such as the New York City-based Harmon Foundation, helped to foster African-American artistic talent. Augusta Savage, Elizabeth Catlett, Lois Mailou Jones, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, and others exhibited in museums and juried art shows, and built reputations and followings for themselves. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were very few widely accepted African-American artists. Despite this, The Highwaymen (landscape artists), The Highwaymen, a loose association of 27 African-American artists from Ft. Pierce, Florida, created idyllic, quickly realized images of the Florida landscape and peddled some 50,000 of them from the trunks of their cars. They sold their art directly to the public rather than through galleries and art agents, thus receiving the name "The Highwaymen". Rediscovered in the mid-1990s, today they are recognized as an important part of American folk history. Their artwork is widely collected by enthusiasts and original pieces can easily fetch thousands of dollars in auctions and sales. The
Black Arts Movement The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups o ...
of the 1960s and 1970s was another period of resurgent interest in African-American art. During this period, several African-American artists gained national prominence, among them Lou Stovall, Ed Love, Charles Wilbert White, Charles White, and Jeff Donaldson (artist), Jeff Donaldson. Donaldson and a group of African-American artists formed the Afrocentric collective AfriCOBRA, which remains in existence today. The sculptor Martin Puryear, whose work has been acclaimed for years, was being honored with a 30-year retrospective of his work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in November 2007. Notable contemporary African-American artists include Willie Cole, David Hammons, Eugene J. Martin, Mose Tolliver, Reynold Ruffins, the late William Tolliver, and Kara Walker.


Literature

African-American literature has its roots in the oral traditions of African slaves in America. The slaves used stories and fables in much the same way as they used music. These stories influenced the earliest African-American writers and poets in the 18th century such as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano. These authors reached early high points by telling slave narratives. During the early 20th century
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics centered in Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded ro ...
, numerous authors and poets, such as
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Booker T. Washington, grappled with how to respond to discrimination in America. Authors during the
Civil Rights Movement The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North ...
, such as Richard Wright (author), Richard Wright, James Baldwin (writer), James Baldwin, and Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about issues of racial segregation, oppression, and other aspects of African-American life. This tradition continues today with authors who have been accepted as an integral part of American literature, with works such as ''Roots: The Saga of an American Family'' by Alex Haley, ''The Color Purple'' by Alice Walker, ''Beloved (novel), Beloved'' by Nobel Prize-winning Toni Morrison, and fiction works by Octavia Butler and Walter Mosley. Such works have achieved both best-selling and/or award-winning status.


Cinema

African-American films typically feature an African-American cast and are targeted at an African-American audience. More recently, Black films feature multicultural casts, and are aimed at multicultural audiences, even if American Blackness is essential to the storyline.


Museums

The African-American Museum Movement emerged during the 1950s and 1960s to preserve the heritage of the African-American experience and to ensure its proper interpretation in American history. Museums devoted to African-American history are found in many African-American neighborhoods. Institutions such as the African American Museum and Library at Oakland, The African American Museum in Cleveland and the Natchez Museum of African American History and Culture were created by African Americans to teach and investigate cultural history that, until recent decades, was primarily preserved through oral traditions. Other prominent African-American museums include Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture, established in 2003 as part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.


Language

Generations of hardships created by the compounded institutions of slavery imposed on the African-American community which prevented them from learning to read, write English or be educated created distinctive language patterns. Slave owners often intentionally mixed people who spoke different African languages to discourage communication in any language other than English. This, combined with prohibitions against education, led to the development of pidgins, simplified mixtures of two or more languages that speakers of different languages could use to communicate. Examples of pidgins that became fully developed languages include Creole language, Creole, common to Louisiana, and Gullah, common to the Sea Islands off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia. African-American Vernacular English (AAVE) is a variety (linguistics), variety (dialect, ethnolect, and sociolect) of the American English language closely associated with the speech of, but not exclusive to, African Americans. While AAVE is academically considered a legitimate dialect because of its logical structure, some of both whites and African Americans consider it slang or the result of a poor command of American English, Standard American English. Many African Americans who were born outside the American South still speak with hints of AAVE or southern dialect. Inner-city African-American children who are isolated by speaking only AAVE sometimes have more difficulty with standardized testing and, after school, moving to the mainstream world for work. It is common for many speakers of AAVE to Code-switching, code switch between AAVE and Standard American English depending on the setting.


Fashion and aesthetics


Attire

The
Black Arts Movement The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups o ...
, a cultural explosion of the 1960s, saw the incorporation of surviving cultural dress with elements from modern fashion and West African traditional clothing to create a uniquely African-American traditional style. Kente cloth is the best known African textile. These colorful woven patterns, which exist in numerous varieties, were originally made by the Ashanti people, Ashanti and Ewe people, Ewe peoples of Ghana and Togo. Kente fabric also appears in a number of Western style fashions ranging from casual T-shirts to formal bow ties and cummerbunds. Kente strips are often sewn into Vestment, liturgical and academic dress, academic robes or worn as stole (vestment), stoles. Since the
Black Arts Movement The Black Arts Movement (BAM) was an African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans or Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group of Americans with total or partial ancestry from any of the Black people, black racial groups o ...
, traditional African clothing has been popular amongst African Americans for both formal and informal occasions. Other manifestations of traditional African dress in common evidence in African-American culture are vibrant colors, mud cloth, trade beads and the use of Adinkra symbols, Adinkra motifs in jewelry and in couture and decorator fabrics. Another common aspect of fashion in African-American culture involves the appropriate dress for worship in the Black church. It is expected in most churches that an individual present their best appearance for worship. African-American women in particular are known for wearing vibrant dresses and suits. An interpretation of a passage from the Christian Bible, "...every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head...", has led to the tradition of wearing elaborate Sunday hats, sometimes known as "crowns". Hip hop fashion is popular with African Americans. Grill (jewelry), Grillz were made popular by African American rapper Nelly. Sagging (fashion), Sagging pants was a part of African American culture. Air Jordan, a shoe brand named after former African American basketball player Michael Jordan, is very popular among the African-American community.


Hair

Hair styling in African-American culture is greatly varied. African-American hair is typically composed of coiled curls, which range from tight to wavy. Many women choose to wear their hair in its natural state. Natural hair can be styled in a variety of ways, including the afro, twist outs, braid outs, and wash and go styles. It is a myth that natural hair presents styling problems or is hard to manage; this myth seems prevalent because mainstream culture has, for decades, attempted to get African-American women to conform to its standard of beauty (i.e., straight hair). To that end, some women prefer straightening of the hair through the application of heat or chemical processes. Although this can be a matter of personal preference, the choice is often affected by straight hair being a beauty standard in the West and the fact that hair type can affect employment. However, more and more women are wearing their hair in its natural state and receiving positive feedback. Alternatively, the predominant and most socially acceptable practice for men is to leave one's hair natural. Often, as men age and begin to lose their hair, the hair is either closely cropped, or the head is shaved completely free of hair. However, since the 1960s, natural hairstyles, such as the
afro An afro is a natural growth of curly textured hair, in any length kinky hair texture (also known as a natural), or specifically styled with chemical curling products by individuals with naturally curly Curly or Curley is a surname, given name ...

afro
, braids, Waves (hairstyle), waves, Hi-top fade, fades, and dreadlocks, have been growing in popularity. Despite their association with radical political movements and their vast difference from mainstream Western hairstyles, the styles have attained considerable, but certainly limited, social acceptance. Maintaining facial hair is more prevalent among African-American men than in other male populations in the US.Lacy, D. Aaro
The Most Endangered Title VII Plaintiff?: African-American Males and Intersectional Claims
" ''Nebraska Law Review'', Vol. 86, No. 3, 2008, pp. 14–15. Retrieved November 8, 2007.
In fact, the soul patch is so named because African-American men, particularly jazz musicians, popularized the style. The preference for facial hair among African-American men is due partly to personal taste, but also because they are more prone than other ethnic groups to develop a condition known as ''pseudofolliculitis barbae'', commonly referred to as ''razor bumps'', many prefer not to shave.


Body image

European-Americans have sometimes appropriated different hair braiding techniques and other forms of African-American hair. There are also individuals and groups who are working towards raising the standing of the African aesthetic among African Americans and internationally as well. This includes efforts toward promoting as models those with clearly defined African features; the mainstreaming of natural hairstyles; and, in women, fuller, more voluptuous body types.


Religion

While African Americans practice a number of religions, Protestant Christianity is by far the most prevalent (more than 85%). Additionally, 14 percent of Muslims in the United States and Canada are black.


Christianity

The religious institutions of African-American Christians commonly are referred to collectively as the black church. During slavery, many slaves were stripped of their African belief systems and typically denied free religious practice, forced to become Christian. Slaves managed, however, to hang on to some practices by integrating them into Christian worship in secret meetings. These practices, including dance, shouts, African rhythms, and enthusiastic singing, remain a large part of worship in the African-American church. African-American churches taught that all people were equal in God's eyes and viewed the doctrine of obedience to one's master taught in white churches as hypocritical – yet accepted and propagated internal hierarchies and support for corporal punishment of children among other things. Instead the African-American church focused on the message of equality and hopes for a better future. Before and after Emancipation Proclamation, emancipation, racial segregation in America prompted the development of organized African-American Christian denomination, denominations. The first of these was the AME Church founded by Richard Allen (Reverend), Richard Allen in 1787. After the Civil War the merger of three smaller Baptist groups formed the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., National Baptist Convention. This organization is the largest African-American Christian Denomination and the second largest Baptist denomination in the United States. An African-American church is not necessarily a separate denomination. Several predominantly African-American churches exist as members of predominantly white denominations. African-American churches have served to provide African-American people with leadership positions and opportunities to organize that were denied in mainstream American society. Because of this, African-American pastors became the bridge between the African-American and European American communities and thus played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement. Like many Christians, African-American Christians sometimes participate in or attend a Christmas play. ''Black Nativity'' by
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
is a re-telling of the classic Nativity story with gospel music. Productions can be found in African-American theaters and churches all over the country.


Islam

Generations before the advent of the Atlantic slave trade,
Islam Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodness", "ah gosh", "ah gawd"; see interjection An interjection is a word or ex ...
was a thriving religion in West Africa due to its peaceful introduction via the lucrative Trans-Saharan trade between prominent tribes in the southern Sahara and the Arabs and Berber people, Berbers in North Africa. In his attesting to this fact the West African scholar Cheikh Anta Diop explained: "The primary reason for the success of Islam in Black Africa [...] consequently stems from the fact that it was propagated peacefully at first by solitary Arabo-Berber travelers to certain Black kings and notables, who then spread it about them to those under their jurisdiction". Many first-generation slaves were often able to retain their Muslim identity, their descendants were not. Slaves were either forcibly converted to Christianity as was the case in the Catholic lands or were besieged with gross inconveniences to their religious practice such as in the case of the Protestant American mainland. In the decades after slavery and particularly during the depression era, Islam reemerged in the form of highly visible and sometimes controversial movements in the African-American community. The first of these of note was the Moorish Science Temple of America, founded by Noble Drew Ali. Ali had a profound influence on Wallace Fard, who later founded the Black nationalist
Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and political organization which was founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930. A Black nationalism, black nationalist organization, the NOI focuses its attention on the African dia ...
in 1930. Elijah Muhammad became head of the organization in 1934. Much like Malcolm X, who left the Nation of Islam in 1964, many African-American Muslims now follow traditional Islam. Many former members of the Nation of Islam converted to Sunni Islam when Warith Deen Mohammed took control of the organization after his father's death in 1975 and taught its members the traditional form of Islam based on the Quran, Qur'an. A survey by the Council on American-Islamic Relations shows that 30% of Sunni Mosque attendees are African Americans. In fact, most African-American Muslims are orthodox Muslims, as only 2% are of the Nation of Islam.


Judaism

There are 150,000 African Americans in the United States who practice Judaism.Rachel Pomerance
Judaism Drawing More Black Americans
''The Atlanta Journal-Constitution'', June 18, 2008.
Some of these are members of mainstream Jewish groups like the Reform Judaism, Reform, Conservative Judaism, Conservative, or Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox branches of Judaism; others belong to non-mainstream Jewish groups like the Black Hebrew Israelites. The Black Hebrew Israelites are a collection of African-American religious organizations whose practices and beliefs are derived to some extent from Judaism. Their varied teachings often include, that African Americans are descended from the Biblical Israelites. Studies have shown in the last 10 to 15 years there has been major increase in African-Americans identifying as Jewish. Rabbi Capers Funnye, the first cousin of Michelle Obama, says in response to skepticism by some on people being African-American and Jewish at the same time, "I am a Jew, and that breaks through all color and ethnic barriers."


Other religions

Aside from Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, there are also African Americans who follow Buddhism and a number of other religions. There is a small but growing number of African Americans who participate in African traditional religions, such as West African Vodun, Santería, Ifá and diasporic traditions like the Rastafari movement. Many of them are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from the Caribbean and South America, where these are practiced. Because of religious practices, such as animal sacrifice, which are no longer common among the larger American religions, these groups may be viewed negatively and are sometimes the victims of harassment. It must be stated, however, that since the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, Supreme Court judgement that was given to the Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Lukumi Babaluaye church of Florida in 1993, there has been no major legal challenge to their right to function as they see fit.


Irreligious beliefs

In a 2008 Pew Forum survey, 12% of African Americans described themselves as Irreligion, nothing in particular (11%), agnostic (1%), or atheist (<0.5%).


Life events

For most African Americans, the observance of life events follows the pattern of mainstream American culture. While African Americans and whites often lived to themselves for much of American history, both groups generally had the same perspective on American culture. There are some traditions that are unique to African Americans. Some African Americans have created new rites of passage that are linked to African traditions. Some pre-teen and teenage boys and girls take classes to prepare them for adulthood. These classes tend to focus on spirituality, responsibility, and leadership. Many of these programs are modeled after traditional African ceremonies, with the focus largely on embracing African cultures. To this day, some African-American couples choose to "jumping the broom, jump the broom" as a part of their wedding ceremony. Some sources claim that this practice can be traced back to Ghana. However, other sources argue that the African American tradition of "jumping the broom" is far more similar to the Jumping the broom, tradition in England. Although, this tradition largely fell out of favor in the African-American community after the end of slavery, it has experienced a slight resurgence in recent years as some couples seek to reaffirm their African heritage. Funeral traditions tend to vary based on a number of factors, including religion and location, but there are a number of commonalities. Probably the most important part of death and dying in the African-American culture is the gathering of family and friends. Either in the last days before death or shortly after death, typically any friends and family members that can be reached are notified. This gathering helps to provide spiritual and emotional support, as well as assistance in making decisions and accomplishing everyday tasks. The spirituality of death is very important in African-American culture. A member of the clergy or members of the religious community, or both, are typically present with the family through the entire process. Death is often viewed as transitory rather than final. Many services are called homegoings or homecomings, instead of funerals, based on the belief that the person is going home to the afterlife; "Returning to God" or the earth (also see Euphemism as well as Connotation). The entire end of life process is generally treated as a celebration of the person's life, deeds and accomplishments – the "good things" rather than a mourning of loss. This is most notably demonstrated in the New Orleans jazz funeral tradition where upbeat music, dancing, and food encourage those gathered to be happy and celebrate the homegoing of a beloved friend.


Cuisine

In studying of the African American culture, food cannot be left out as one of the medians to understand their traditions, religion, interaction, and social and cultural structures of their community. Observing the ways they prepare their food and eat their food ever since the enslaved era, reveals about the nature and identity of African American culture in the United States. Derek Hicks examines the origins of "gumbo", which is considered a soul food to many African Americans, in his reference to the intertwinement of food and culture in African American community. No written evidence are found historically about the gumbo or its recipes, so through the African American's nature of orally passing their stories and recipes down, gumbo came to represent their truly communal dish. Gumbo is said to be "an invention of enslaved
Africans The population of Africa has population growth, grown rapidly over the past century and consequently shows a large youth bulge, further reinforced by a low life expectancy of below 50 years in some African countries. Total population as of 20 ...
and African Americans" in Louisiana. By mixing and cooking leftover ingredients from their White owners (often less desirable cuts of meats and vegetables) all together into a dish that has consistency between stew and soup, African Americans took the detestable and created it into a desirable dish. Through sharing of this food in churches with a gathering of their people, they not only shared the food, but also experience, feelings, attachment, and sense of unity that brings the community together. The cultivation and use of many agricultural products in the United States, such as Sweet Potato, yams, peanuts, rice, okra, sorghum, indigo dyes, and cotton, can be traced to African influences. African-American foods reflect creative responses to racial and economic oppression and poverty. Under slavery, African Americans were not allowed to eat better cuts of meat, and after emancipation many were often too poor to afford them. Soul food, a hearty cuisine commonly associated with African Americans in the Southern US, South (but also common to African Americans nationwide), makes creative use of inexpensive products procured through farming and subsistence hunting and fishing. Pig intestines are boiled and sometimes battered and fried to make chitterlings, also known as "chitlins". Ham hocks and neck bones provide seasoning to soups, beans and boiled greens (vegetable), greens (turnip greens, collard greens, and mustard greens). Other common foods, such as fried chicken and fried fish, fish, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and Hoppin' John, hoppin' john (black-eyed peas and rice) are prepared simply. When the African-American population was considerably more rural than it generally is today, rabbit, Virginia opossum, opossum, squirrel, and waterfowl were important additions to the diet. Many of these food traditions are especially predominant in many parts of the rural South. Traditionally prepared soul food is often high in fat, sodium, and starch. Highly suited to the physically demanding lives of laborers, farmhands and rural lifestyles generally, it is now a contributing factor to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes in a population that has become increasingly more urban and sedentary. As a result, more health-conscious African Americans are using alternative methods of preparation, eschewing trans fats in favor of natural vegetable oils and substituting smoked turkey for fatback and other, cured pork products; limiting the amount of refined sugar in desserts; and emphasizing the consumption of more fruits and vegetables than animal protein. There is some resistance to such changes, however, as they involve deviating from long culinary tradition. Other soul foods African Americans cook is chicken and waffles and desserts like banana pudding, peach cobbler, red velvet cake and sweet potato pie. Kool-Aid is considered a soul food beverage. The roots of "Soul food" are spread up and down the West Coast of Africa (Senegal, Guinea, Sierre Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Gabon,
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
and Angola) as well as in Western European countries such as Scottish cuisne, Scotland, but the "fruits" can be found across the face of America. Okra came from Ethiopia and Eritrea. Rice, common to Lowcountry region of South Carolina and Georgia, was imported from the island of Madagascar. Soul food is similar to gypsy cooking in Europe. African Americans are becoming vegans increasingly.


Holidays and observances

As with other American racial and ethnic groups, African Americans observe ethnic holidays alongside traditional American holidays. Holidays observed in African-American culture are not only observed by African Americans but are widely considered American holidays. The birthday of noted American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. has been observed nationally since 1983. It is one of four federal holidays named for an individual. Black History Month is another example of another African-American observance that has been adopted nationally and its teaching is even required by law in some states. Black History Month is an attempt to focus attention on previously neglected aspects of the American history, chiefly the lives and stories of African Americans. It is observed during the month of February to coincide with the founding of the
NAACP The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights Civil and political rights are a class of rights Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement ...
and the birthdays of Frederick Douglass, a prominent African-American Abolitionism in the United States, abolitionist, and
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
, the United States president who signed the Emancipation Proclamation. On June 7, 1979, President Jimmy Carter decreed that June would be the month of black music. For the past 28 years, presidents have announced to Americans that Black Music Month (also called African-American Music Month) should be recognized as a critical part of American heritage. Black Music Month is highlighted with various events urging citizens to revel in the many forms of music from gospel to hip-hop. African-American musicians, singers, and composers are also highlighted for their contributions to the nation's history and culture. Less-widely observed outside of the African-American community is Emancipation Day popularly known as Juneteenth or Freedom Day, in recognition of the official reading of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865, in Texas. Juneteenth is a day when African Americans reflect on their unique history and heritage. It is one of the fastest growing African-American holidays with observances in the United States. Another holiday not widely observed outside of the African-American community is the birthday of Malcolm X. The day is observed on May 19 in American cities with a significant African-American population, including Washington, D.C. Another noted African-American holiday is Kwanzaa. Like Emancipation Day, it is not widely observed outside of the African-American community, although it is growing in popularity with both African-American and African communities. African-American scholar and activist Ron Karenga, "Maulana" Ron Karenga invented the festival of Kwanzaa in 1966, as an alternative to the increasing commercialization of Christmas. Derived from the harvest rituals of Africans, Kwanzaa is observed each year from December 26 through January 1. Participants in Kwanzaa celebrations affirm their African heritage and the importance of family and community by drinking from a unity cup; lighting red, black, and green candles; exchanging heritage symbols, such as African art; and recounting the lives of people who struggled for African and African-American freedom. Negro Election Day is also another festival derived from rituals of African culture specifically West Africa and revolves around the voting of a black official in colonial New England during the 18th century.


Names

Although many African-American names are common among the larger population of the United States, distinct naming trends have emerged within African-American culture. Prior to the 1950s and 1960s, most African-American names closely resembled those used within European American culture. A dramatic shift in naming traditions began to take shape in the 1960s and 1970s in America. With the rise of the mid-century Civil Rights Movement, there was a dramatic rise in names of various origins. The practice of adopting neo-African or Islamic names gained popularity during that era. Efforts to recover African heritage inspired selection of names with deeper cultural significance. Before this, using African names was uncommon because African Americans were several generations removed from the last ancestor to have an African name, as Slavery in the United States, slaves were often given the names of their enslavers, which were of European origin. African-American names have origins in many languages including French language, French, Latin, English language, English, Arabic language, Arabic, and African languages. One very notable influence on African-American names is the Muslim religion. Islamic names entered the popular culture with the rise of The
Nation of Islam The Nation of Islam (NOI) is a religious and political organization which was founded in the United States by Wallace Fard Muhammad in 1930. A Black nationalism, black nationalist organization, the NOI focuses its attention on the African dia ...
among Black Americans with its focus on civil rights. The popular name "Aisha (given name), Aisha" has origins in the Quran, Qur'an. Despite the origins of these names in the Muslim religion and the place of the Nation of Islam in the civil rights movement, many Muslim names such as Jamal and Malik entered popular usage among Black Americans simply because they were fashionable, and many Islamic names are now commonly used by African Americans regardless of their religion. Names of
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
n origin began to crop up as well. Names like Ashanti, Tanisha (name), Tanisha, Aaliyah, Malaika have origins in the continent of Africa. By the 1970s and 1980s, it had become common within the culture to invent new names, although many of the invented names took elements from popular existing names. Prefixes such as or and suffixes such as and are common, as well as inventive spellings for common names. Even with the rise of creative names, it is also still common for African Americans to use biblical, historic, or European names.


Family

When slavery was practiced in the United States, it was common for family, families to be separated through sale. Even during slavery, however, many African-American families managed to maintain strong familial bonds. Free African men and women, who managed to buy their own freedom by being hired out, who were emancipated, or who had escaped their masters, often worked long and hard to buy the members of their families who remained in bondage and send for them. Others, separated from blood kin, formed close bonds based on fictive kin; ''play'' relations, ''play'' aunts, cousins, and the like. This practice, a holdover from African oral traditions such as ''sanankouya'', survived Emancipation, with non-blood family friends commonly accorded the status and titles of blood relations. This broader, more African concept of what constitutes family and community, and the deeply rooted respect for elders that is part of African traditional societies, may be the genesis of the common use of the terms like "cousin" (or "cuz"), "aunt", "uncle", "brother", "sister", "Mother", and "Mama" when addressing other African-American people, some of whom may be complete strangers.


African-American family structure

Immediately after slavery, African-American families struggled to reunite and rebuild what had been taken. As late as 1960, when most African Americans lived under some form of segregation, 78 percent of African-American families were headed by married couples. This number steadily declined during the latter half of the 20th century. For the first time since slavery, a majority of African-American children live in a household with only one parent, typically the mother. This apparent weakness is balanced by mutual-aid systems established by extended family members to provide emotional and economic support. Older family members pass on social and cultural traditions such as religion and manners to younger family members. In turn, the older family members are cared for by younger family members when they cannot care for themselves. These relationships exist at all economic levels in the African-American community, providing strength and support both to the African-American family and the community. African Americans are less likely to own a pet.


Politics and social issues

Since the passing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, African Americans are voting and being elected to public office in increasing numbers. the United States had approximately 10,000 African-American elected officials. African Americans overwhelmingly associate with the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic Party. Only 11 percent of African Americans supported for George W. Bush in the 2004 United States presidential election, 2004 Presidential Election. In 2016, Only 8% of African Americans voted for Republican Donald Trump while 88% of African Americans voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Social issues such as racial profiling, Race and crime in the United States, racial disparities in sentencing, African-American poverty, higher rates of poverty, Race and health in the United States#African Americans, lower access to health care and institutional racism in general are important to the African-American community. While the divide on racial and fiscal issues has remained consistently wide for decades, seemingly indicating a wide social divide, African Americans tend to hold the same optimism and concern for America as any other ethnic group. African-Americans may express political and social sentiments through Hip Hop Culture, hip-hop culture, including Graffiti in the United States, graffiti, Breakdancing, break-dancing, rapping, and more. This cultural movement makes statements about historical, as well as present-day topics like street culture (disambiguation), street culture and Incarceration, Race, and Inequality, incarceration, and oftentimes expresses a call for change. Hip-hop artists play a prominent role in activism and in fighting social justice, social injustices, and have a cultural role in defining and reflecting on political and social issues. African Americans in general differ from whites in their condemnation of homosexuality. Prominent leaders in the Black church have demonstrated against LGBT rights in the United States, gay-rights issues such as same-sex marriage, gay marriage. This stands in stark contrast to the down-low (sexual slang), down-low phenomenon of covert men who have sex with men, male–male sexual acts. Some within the African-American community take a different position, notably the late Coretta Scott King and the Reverend Al Sharpton. Sharpton, when asked in 2003 whether he supported gay marriage, replied that he might as well have been asked if he supported black marriage or white marriage. McDonald's has a campaign that celebrates their African-American consumers. Many Celebrity, celebrities have appropriated African-American culture.


African-American LGBT culture

The Black LGBT community refers to the African-American (Black) population who identify as LGBT, as a community of marginalized individuals who are further marginalized within their own community. Surveys and research have shown that 80% of African Americans say gays and lesbians endure discrimination compared to the 61% of whites. Black members of the community are not only seen as "other" due to their race, but also due to their sexuality, so they always had to combat racism and homophobia. Black LGBT first started to be visible during the
Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual and cultural revival of African American music, dance, art, fashion, literature, theater and politics centered in Harlem Harlem is a neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is bounded ro ...
when a subculture of LGBTQ African-American artists and entertainers emerged. This included people like
Alain Locke Alain Leroy Locke (September 13, 1885 – June 9, 1954) was an American writer, philosopher, educator, and patron of the arts. Distinguished in 1907 as the first African-American Rhodes Scholar, Locke became known as the philosophical archite ...
,
Countee Cullen Countee Cullen (born Countee LeRoy Porter; May 30, 1903 – January 9, 1946) was an American poet, novelist, children's writer, and playwright, particularly well known during the Harlem Renaissance The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual an ...
,
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
,
Claude McKay Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay OJ (September 15, 1890See Wayne F. Cooper, ''Claude McKay, Rebel Sojourner In The Harlem Renaissance (New York, Schocken, 1987) p. 377 n. 19. As Cooper's authoritative biography explains, McKay's family predated h ...

Claude McKay
, Wallace Thurman, Richard Bruce Nugent, Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Moms Mabley, Mabel Hampton, Alberta Hunter, and Gladys Bentley. Places like Savoy Ballroom and the Rockland Palace hosted Ball culture, drag-ball extravaganzas with prizes awarded for the best costumes.
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
depicted the balls as "spectacles of color". George Chauncey, author of ''Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940'', wrote that during this period "perhaps nowhere were more men willing to venture out in public in drag than in Harlem".Dis-membering Stonewall
/ref>


African-American population centers

African-American neighborhoods are types of ethnic enclaves found in many cities in the United States. The formation of African-American neighborhoods is closely linked to the history of segregation in the United States, either through formal laws, or as a product of social norms. Despite this, African-American neighborhoods have played an important role in the development of nearly all aspects of both African-American culture and broader American culture.


Wealthy African-American communities

Many affluent African-American communities exist today, including the following: Woodmore, Maryland; Hillcrest, Rockland County, New York; Redan, Georgia, Redan and Cascade Heights, Georgia, Cascade Heights, Georgia (U.S. state), Georgia; Mitchellville, Maryland; Missouri City, Texas; Desoto, Texas; Quinby, South Carolina; Forest Park, Oklahoma; Mount Airy, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Ghettos

Due to segregated conditions and widespread poverty, some African-American neighborhoods in the United States have been called "ghettos". The use of this term is controversial and, depending on the context, potentially offensive. Despite mainstream America's use of the term "ghetto" to signify a poor urban area populated by ethnic minorities, those living in the area often used it to signify something positive. The African-American ghettos did not always contain dilapidated houses and deteriorating projects, nor were all of its residents poverty-stricken. For many African Americans, the ghetto was "home", a place representing authentic "blackness" and a feeling, passion, or emotion derived from the rising above the struggle and suffering of being of African descent in America.
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1901 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist from Joplin, Missouri Joplin is a city in Jasper Jasper, an aggregate of microgranular quartz ...

Langston Hughes
relays in the "Negro Ghetto" (1931) and "The Heart of Harlem" (1945): "The buildings in Harlem are brick and stone/And the streets are long and wide,/But Harlem's much more than these alone,/Harlem is what's inside." Playwright August Wilson used the term "ghetto" in ''Ma Rainey's Black Bottom'' (1984) and ''Fences (play), Fences'' (1987), both of which draw upon the author's experience growing up in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, an African-American ghetto. Kim Pearson Although African-American neighborhoods may suffer from civic disinvestment, with lower-quality schools, less-effective policing and fire protection, there are institutions such as Black church, churches and List of museums focused on African Americans, museums and political organizations that help to improve the physical and social capital of African-American neighborhoods. In African-American neighborhoods the Black church, churches may be important sources of social cohesion. For some African Americans, the kind spirituality learned through these churches works as a protective factor against the corrosive forces of racism. Museums devoted to African-American history are also found in many African-American neighborhoods. Many African-American neighborhoods are located in inner city, inner cities, and these are the mostly residential neighborhoods located closest to the central business district. The built environment is often row houses or brownstones, mixed with older single-family homes that may be converted to multi-family homes. In some areas there are larger apartment buildings. Shotgun houses are an important part of the built environment of some southern African-American neighborhoods. The houses consist of three to five rooms in a row with no hallways. This African-American house design is found in both rural and urban southern areas, mainly in African-American communities and neighborhoods.
"Black architecture still standing, the Shotgun House"
', The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM Kevin Matthews. African American Registry.
In ''Black Rednecks and White Liberals'', Thomas Sowell suggested that modern urban black ghetto culture is rooted in the white Cracker (pejorative), Cracker culture of the North Britons and Scotch-Irish Americans, Scots-Irish who migrated from the generally lawless Border country, border regions of Great Britain to the American South, where they formed a Redneck (stereotype), redneck culture common to both blacks and whites in the antebellum South. According to Sowell, characteristics of this culture included lively music and dance, violence, unbridled emotions, flamboyant imagery, illegitimacy, religious oratory marked by strident rhetoric, and a lack of emphasis on education and intellectual interests. Sowell asserts that white liberal Americans have perpetuated this "counterproductive and self-destructive lifestyle" among black Americans living in urban ghettos through "the welfare state, and look-the-other-way policing, and smiling at 'gangsta rap'".(edited)Many members of the ghetto are discredited,and falsely misunderstood. Through influence, the members look at for the "weak links" or those lost to the trap. The aim is to make it out or "run the streets"


See also

* African-American newspapers * Cool (aesthetic)#African Americans, Cool (aesthetic) § African Americans * Culture of the Southern United States * Historically black colleges and universities * Imaging Blackness * National Museum of African American History and Culture * Archives of African American Music and Culture * Culture of Africa * Cultural appropriation#African-American culture


References


Bibliography

* Hamilton, Marybeth: ''In Search of the Blues''. * William R. Ferris, William Ferris; ''Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues'' – The University of North Carolina Press; (2009) (with CD and DVD) * William R. Ferris, William Ferris; Glenn Hinson ''The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 14: Folklife'', University of North Carolina Press (2009) (Cover :photo of James Son Thomas) * William R. Ferris, William Ferris; ''Blues From The Delta'' – Da Capo Press; revised edition (1988) * Ted Gioia; ''Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters Who Revolutionized American Music'' – W. W. Norton & Company (2009) *Sheldon Harris (music historian), Sheldon Harris; ''Blues Who's Who'' Da Capo Press, 1979 * Robert Nicholson; ''Mississippi Blues Today!'' Da Capo Press (1999) * Robert Palmer (writer), Robert Palmer; ''Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History of the Mississippi Delta'' – Penguin Reprint edition (1982) * Frederic Ramsey Jr.; ''Been Here And Gone'' – 1st edition (1960) Rutgers University Press – London Cassell (UK) and New Brunswick, New Jersey; 2nd printing (1969) Rutgers University Press New Brunswick, New Jersey; (2000) University of Georgia Press * Wiggins, David K. and Ryan A. Swanson, eds. ''Separate Games: African American Sport behind the Walls of Segregation''. University of Arkansas Press, 2016. xvi, 272 pp. * Charles Reagan Wilson, William R. Ferris, William Ferris, Ann J. Adadie; ''Encyclopedia of Southern Culture'' (1656 pp) University of North Carolina Press; 2nd edition (1989) – {{DEFAULTSORT:African-American Culture African-American culture, African-American history African-American society