For over four centuries, millions of Africans were shipped to the Caribbean Islands and North America as slaves during the historic Atlantic Slave Trade. During this period, Africans would first be captured from their native homeland and isolated from their families before being shipped and enslaved at a foreign land (Patterson and Kelly 11).
The concept of the African Diaspora is used as an illustration of how enslaved Africans managed to hold onto their culture and traditions despite their limited numbers in a foreign land. In addition, they also underwent transformation process that reformed their identities in the foreign land. Some of the African cultural elements that endured the transformation process include folklore, language and region.
During the Americanization process, Africans formed the Creoles or the Afro-Americans culture which was a blend of different cultures (Patterson and Kelly 12).
The widespread use of the term African Diaspora emerged in the 1950s. In the political arena, the term was used by scholars and historians to emphasize on the unifying experiences shared by the African people who had been dispersed and scattered by slave trade. The objective of the essay is to show how colonialism and racial capitalism shaped the African Diasporic culture(s) while, at the same time, transforming the Western culture.
Racial capitalism and colonialism contributed immensely towards shaping the African culture(s) and transforming the western culture (Patterson and Kelly 13).
The black Atlantic was fundamental in the creation of the new modern world and culture. In other words, by creating and shaping the African culture, colonialism and capitalism also helped to transform the Western culture. For instance, during the colonial era, Africans were shipped to Western nations while colonies in Africa tried hard to transform the African culture.
While in the West, the Africans were treated as persons of different class by the Whites (Clarke and Thomas 143). However, the Africans united and formed a new culture, the African Diaspora, which was as a result of cultural blending. The African slaves formed civil rights movements and demanded for civil rights.
In addition, racial social movements were also formed in order to seek for black power advocacy (Clarke and Thomas 144). This was a part of the Western culture transformation as it sought for racial equality. Some words like “Negro” were replaced with black and all persons regardless of their race had to be treated equally.
As noted by Clarke and Thomas (144), the politics of the blacks which advocated for revolution attempted to change the cultural tenets of the European origin which had cultural influence.
Racial capitalism came of age in the 1970s to address the issue of capitalism and racial order in countries like South Africa which has succumbed to Apartheid. According to Clarke and Thomas (227), racial disorder was part of the resistance against racial capitalism which had embedded its roots in the society.
In spite of efforts by the Pan-European world to exorcise blackness and create black inferiority, white supremacy, and racial purity, African Diasporic culture remained as a counterculture. Racial oppression, forced labor, colonial conditions and capitalism were some of the processes that undermined the Blacks.
However, in a bid to survive, victims of colonialism and racial capitalism engaged in solidarity to form collective identity. During this dark era of history, civil rights discourses intensified the fight against discrimination which had created racial difference and belonging (Clarke and Thomas144).
In addition, those blacks who shared the same black political struggles came together ushering in the concepts of racism and democracy. For example, in the U.S, new laws such as the Voting Rights of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were part of the new transformation which had been introduced in the Western culture (Clarke and Thomas 144).
During the transatlantic slave trade in Europe and America, capitalism was quite dominant and this can be attributed to globalization (Clarke and Thomas 4). As the concept of racial capitalism continued to take shape in the 1970s, the blacks joined trade unions and other social movements to forge a united front in search for freedom. This was followed by the emancipation and the struggle for equality in the Western Culture.
Consequently, the African identity was formed which acted as the foundation of the African Diasporic culture. In addition, transatlantic system assisted in the formation of White identity in the modern new world (Clarke and Thomas 32). It is through slavery which was the result of both colonialism and racial capitalism that the black struggle began.
As part of the transformation process, the black struggle for freedom from the shackles of racial capitalism (slavery) started and paved way for democracy in America and Europe. The cultures and ideas borrowed from Africa or resulting from the African Diasporic culture played a pivotal role in influencing the politics, religion, and philosophy in the West (Patterson and Kelly 31).
As a result, it became possible to transform the Western culture to a new world which adopted new elements such as democracy, social justice, and equality for all people. Therefore, although Europe played a role in inventing the African continent and the African Diasporic culture through colonialism and racial capitalism, Africa culture played a role in transforming the culture of the west.
Based on the analysis, it can be concluded that colonialism and capitalism shaped African Diasporic culture(s) and at the same time, transformed the Western culture. Through colonialism, Africans were shipped to Europe and America where they were treated differently by Whites.
African slaves unified and formed trade unions as a form of solidarity. It is through trade unions that cultural blending was born. Civil rights and radial social movements called for racial equality and democracy which were unheard of in the Western culture.
Although the European and American systems tried hard to exorcise blackness, African Diasporic culture remained as a counterculture. New concepts such as racism and freedom emerged to dictate the course into which the Western culture would take. Globalization resulted to capitalism which was as a result of colonialism in Africa.
To defeat racial capitalism, blacks stood as a united front as they fought for their freedom and emancipation from the shackles of slavery. African identity was formed and this helped to transform the politics of the West. Elements such as democracy, social justice, and equality for all people were borrowed from the African culture and incorporated in the Western culture.
The struggle by Africans against the power of colonialism and racial capitalism resulted to the formation of African Diaspora culture. In addition, African Diasporic culture had an immense influence on the politics, religion, and philosophy in the West, thus influencing the Western culture.
Clarke, Kamari and Deborah Thomas. Globalization and Race: Transformations in the Cultural Production of Blackness, Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. Print
Patterson, Tiffany and Ribin Kelly. “Unfinished Migration: Reflections of the African Diaspora of the Modern World. “ African Studies Review 43.1: (2000): 11-45. Print.