Intro to Sociology
September 3, 2010
African American culture in the United States refers to the cultural contributions of Americans African descent to the culture of the United States, either as part of or distinct from American culture. The distinct identity of African American culture is rooted in the historical experience of the African American people. The culture is both distinct and enormously influential to American culture as a whole. African-American culture is rooted in Africa. It is a blend of chiefly sub-Saharan African and Sahelean cultures. Although slavery greatly restricted the ability of Americans of African descent to practice their cultural traditions, many practices, values, and beliefs survived and over time have modified or blended with European American culture. There are some facets of African American culture that were accentuated by the slavery period. The result is a unique and dynamic culture that has had and continues to have a profound impact on mainstream American culture.
After emancipation, unique African-American traditions continued to flourish as distinctive traditions or radical innovations in music, art, literature, religion, cuisine, and other fields. Twentieth-century sociologists, such as Gunnar Myrdal, believed that African Americans had lost most cultural ties with Africa. Melville Herskovits and others researched using anthropological field and demonstrated that there has been a continuum of African traditions among Africans of the Diaspora. The greatest influence of African cultural practices on European culture is found below the Mason-Dixon in the American South. For many years, African-American culture developed separately from mainstream American culture, 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.