A Journey Of Being Black In America

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Visibility and Viability: A Journey of being Black in America

What it means to be Black in America is contingent on both race and class; Race has been the primary factor used to shape the identity of African Americans within society and is equally responsible for their lack thereof. Despite progression Blacks are still subjected to socially constructed biases and racialized discourse; both equally responsible for the Black culture that is characterized by suppression, oppression, segregation, and exploitation. In the midst of reeling from the effects of Americas slavery past, identity remains a major concern.

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As seen with the Great Migration and ideologies of Afro-Centrism, Black Nationalism, and Afro-Futurism, Blacks have taken strides to create a sense of belonging and establish an identity of their own. This essay aims to analyze the evolution of the African American identity as it has shifted from tribalism, to an identity plagued by slavery and dehumanization, to the newfound identity of the new Negro based in enlightenment, art, and the African Diaspora.

The daunting history of the transatlantic slave trade shaped and continues to shape the experience of African Americans in society. From the onset of the slave trade, Africans were ascribed as an inferior species and forcibly removed from their homelands and sold into slavery. The enslaved were now disconnected from the lands that bore them and life as they knew it before bondage in its entirety. As slavery progressed aspects of their culture, religions, and customs were completely replaced by those of their slave masters. Many slaves tried to cling to their tribal identities, but as they were separated from their tribe members this proved to be difficult.

Slave masters took advantage of this and continued to exploit slaves, often pitting tribe against tribe, causing a rift among slaves and ultimately isolation. In doing so, slave masters gained absolute control over the slaves and enforced and reinforced the notion that slaves identities consisted of being nothing more than personal property. However, Federalist No. 54 contested this notion and insisted that slaves were still human beings regardless of being thought of as less than human.

Slavery continued until being abolished in 1865 essentially granting slaves their freedom however, African Americans were ostracized and continuously exploited at the hands of their White counterparts, the superior race. Just as with slavery each aspect of African Americans lives including their education, music, literature, and art was overrun by people who looked nothing like them. Blacks were determined to establish themselves and create an authentic identity; if they did not relocate they would remain without an identity of their own.
The Great Migration characterizes the time in which Blacks relocated from the South to the North as they sought after refuge from racialized systems of oppression.

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