African Americans

More than any other group in the colonies, African Americans were caught in the distinction between family and household. Initially, most were brought to the Southern colonies as indentured servants. Like their white counterparts, they had the hope of finishing their indentureships and gaining farms and households of their own. Unlike their white counterparts, Africans did not take the Atlantic passage by choice, and many of these families were broken up. Throughout the colonial period, free African Americans earned their livings either with small farms in the backcountry or as laborers in the cities. While they did not face the possibility of their families being split apart by their owners, they were nearly always on the edge of society. Most kept documentation of their free status with them at all times, concerned that they could be seized and sold into slavery. By the 1670s and 1680s, permanent servitude for African Americans was fully established. On a small farm, slavery was little different from servitude, aside from the permanence of the situation. On a larger plantation, these two positions had very different ramifications. With the exception of household workers, most slaves lived isolated from the family who owned the plantation. Legally, they were part of the household; however, they were not members of the household as family. While church- or state-ordained marriage was usually forbidden between slaves, family groups still emerged. Hunting, fishing, and small gardens were encouraged, allowing family members to provide some food of their own. Where possible, individual traditions brought from Africa could be incorporated into their life as a family. Ideally, husband, wife, and children were able to live on the same plantation. Reality, however, dictated that many lived on separate plantations. The possibility of family members being sold even farther away was constantly present. Another tension on family life was the abuse of African American women by their white owners, bringing half-white, half-African American children into the family. African American Art African American Motivational Posters – The … African American Women Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center On Hillary Clinton’s Overwhelming Support Among African Americans

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