5 Traditions Unique to African-Americans

African American traditions practiced today can be traced to the slave times. These traditions were brought when they came to America. While the main core of the traditions remained, they became modified due to the influence of white Americans. These traditions are most visible in the southern states of the US and the younger generations have tightly embraced them.

  • Family Reunions

The family is core of African American culture from the times of slavery up to the times of racial discrimination. Family reunions serve to strengthen African American families as they work on surviving varied social conditions. The meal is the highlight of the family reunion and worship if the final action.

  • Hair Style

Braids are an integral part of the culture of African Americans. Women slaves were often required to shave their heads. If they were not required to do so, black hair was often styled with a braid.

  • Soul Food

African Americans are often associated with soul food. It is a healthy cuisine that creatively uses inexpensive ingredients. “Gumbo” is a soul food which traces its origin to enslaved blacks and whose recipe has been orally passed through generations.

Leftover ingredients from their white masters are mixed into a dish and cooked into a stew-like consistency. Most African American food show how they creatively come up with a delectable dish amidst poverty and racial oppression. A tradition soul food dish would consist of friend chicken with breaded fried okra, collard greens, macaroni and cheese.

  • Names

Although a lot of African American names are influenced by the more influential American culture, many name their children to symbolize unity in their culture. African American names trace their roots from the Latin, English, Arabic, French and African languages as well as the Muslim religion. Such names as “Aisha” is from the Qur’an. “Malik” and “Jamal” are a lot of other Muslim names are commonly used by African Americans. Names like Tanisha, Ashani and Aaliyah are African names.

  • Life Events

These traditions include pre-teen boys and girls taking African modeled classes in preparation for adulthood with focus on responsibility, spirituality and leadership. African American wedding ceremonies still include the “jump the broom” ritual. Funeral traditions include the gathering of friends and family to provide emotional and spiritual support. Most services are called homecomings or homegoings instead of funerals and is treated more as a celebration than a loss.


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