Food and Religion in African American Society
“A family that prays together eats together.” This statement is perhaps not strange to an African American who carried on aspects of the rich cultural beliefs that governed the lives of native African slaves. Religion was core, and it depicted the pact which the slave had with God. “Soul food” was a cherished cuisine, humbly prepared to nourish the black man’s body. Food and religious beliefs had a relationship. The old ways are now eroded and the African American is no longer keen to say `the grace’ over his unhealthy plate nor attend an after-church lunch with the congregation because he/she did not attend the church-service in the first place. The black church was to a greater extent the foundation of the African American community. It was where the black slave found solace and sought redemption in the face of oppression. It was a source of support and encouragement at a time when the African slaves were living terribly. Religious identity was fundamental for the African Americans to “experience the complete continuum of their human race notwithstanding the horrors they faced in their new land” (Hughes 76). However, the black community’s religious beliefs took a new direction as soon as African Americans became socially and economically diverse. “Unchurched” black youths were a common scenario in the 1990’s (Hughes 112). The black church lost its communal and symbolic elements. Freedom and liberation sermons were exchanged for privatized religion and prosperity. The black church lost the voice that had defined the civil rights era. Thus, though the African American had religious roots, nothing much about the same can be talked of currently. The origin of food and its way of preparation mirrored the African American way of life. The blacks were usually given the lowest food forms by their slave masters. Unwanted entrails and vegetables bordering on weeds made the recipe list of slaves trying to cook up some...
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