The Preservation of a Precious Culture.
The institution of slavery was very trying for newly captured Africans. They had to survive the "middle passage" and legions of cruelties and atrocities committed against them before they even faced the hardships of America. Once in the new world and on the plantations Africans had to deal with the continual pressures of enslavement and dominance from another culture. Slave masters intervened continually in the lives of their slaves, from directing their labor to approving or disapproving marriages. Some masters made elaborate written rules, and most engaged in constant meddling, directing, nagging, threatening, and punishing. Many took advantage of their position to exploit slave women sexually. What slaves hated most about slavery was not the hard work to which they were subjected, but their lack of control over their lives, their lack of freedom. Slaves developed their own way of life and struggled to increase their independence while their masters strove to limit it. .
Enslaved African Americans developed a sense of racial identity. They naturally drew together, helping each other in danger, need, and resistance. The resource that enabled slaves to maintain such defiance was their culture: the body of beliefs and values born of their past and their present. It was not possible for slaves to change their world but by drawing strength from their culture they could resist their condition and struggle against it. In the face of this type of adversity, one would imagine that it would be hard to retain ones culture, much less ones sanity. Yet through, storytelling, religion and music African Americans managed to preserve their culture. Slaves used these mediums, among other things to, lift their spirits, let out their sorrows, pass down tradition, and give them hope for the future. Many times they infused European inventions, such as Christianity, with their own brand of African worship, to create a culturally rich tradition that would sustain their needs and last the ages.