Death & Mourning: African American Practices
Death is a sure event that will happen to all of us in life, it is a subject that many dread to tackle for it signifies an end to life, and end to things. In fact, in many cultures, it is a forbidden discussion. African-Americans or the Black minority however embrace death as a part of the life process, with death traditions, customs, procedures, mourning practices & burial rites given great attention. The structure of African-American cemeteries for example differ greatly from that in general practice influenced by adapted practices from their ancestors since their arrival to the colonies from Africa. It is said that back in the days of slavery, when Blacks had to endure so much misery, many saw death as an escape towards a better situation for death afforded the miserable soul a sense of rest, a hope of peace. So, pre-Civil War, their dead is mourned and greatly missed but also their death is celebrated as happy emotions for their chance at peace is welcomed by those who loved him/her. Positive emotions are focused on, and, with the African-American adaption and conversion to Christianity, this afterlife is celebrated as a just and merciful Christian Heaven ruled by a Merciful and Loving God who sees all. Hence, all who die are assumed to go to a 'Better Place'. Slavery is a thing of the past and while we now live in a country with an Africa-American President, the practices are passed on from generation to generation with death celebrated and the rituals include harnessing positive emotions and great 'hope'. This can actually be traced to the practices of the Bakongo and the LaDogaa tribes and passed on in the form of expressions, sayings, superstitions, religious beliefs and practices as well as music.
The Mourning & Funeral Practice
The mourning process begins when a death occurs. All members of the entire family even the most far-off relative are told and all...
Holloway, K.FC. (2003), Passed on: African American Mourning Stories a Memorial, Duke University Press
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