People of African dissent are some of the most innovative humans on the planet. There isn’t too much that we cannot do, and American — hell GLOBAL history — proves it.
Everyone knows this and while the media is committed to mostly portraying us in a negative light —whether it’s by showcasing some of the poorest nations in Africa (the richest continent in the world, btw) or portraying African-Americans as “thugs” and “hoodlums” — we have and will continue to do much more with less.
Which brings me to my point of annoyance.
Over the weekend, it was called to my attention that some white folks are starting to incorporate the very historic and extremely significant tradition of “jumping the broom” into their wedding ceremonies.
It is both an insult to our culture and a slap in the face. Let me explain.
It isn’t shocking that some white folks feel that it is OK to steal yet another tradition of ours. In fact, it is expected. After all, when you belong to a culture that has very little identity of its own, you’ve got to be a bit “innovative” when it comes to incorporating and “creating” your own traditions.
What’s fiercely irritating about this entire ordeal is that they appear to be “jumping the broom” with no regard for what it really means to African-Americans.
In case you’re reading my dear white folks who think this is OK to do, let me give you a little history lesson.
“Jumping the broom” is a significant part of African-American heritage that dates back to the says before slavery. In the United States, slaves had no rights and their unions were not legally recognized under the law. The practice, which originated in Ghana, was meant to not just recognize the couple as man and wife, but also held spiritual value and served as a symbol for sweeping away past wrongs and removing evil spirits.
See, slaves didn’t just have evil spirits from other realms to worry about. They had slaveowners, racist people and oppression to be concerned about …right here on earth. They had to be worried about being raped, watching their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers be raped, abused and impregnated, lynched, beaten and separated from their families, much like what happened when they were robbed of their lives and homeland during the Atlantic Slave Trade.
When African-Americans jump the broom today, they’re doing so to pay homage to our legacy and to bless their marriage. It is in remembrance of those who experienced more difficulty than we can ever imagine. It is in memory of the fact that while we are now able to get recognized as man and wife under the law, we were not always afforded that privilege.
In fact, as our ancestors gleefully jumped the broom during the days of slavery, they did so with broken bones, sore whipped backs and branded asses like the cattle we were viewed as. They did so surrounded by loved ones barefoot, in a field of pain foreign feelings and bad memories that they had to call home.
On the other hand, you, your ancestors, those who you do not know, essentially everyone who is white no matter how far back we go back in American history, had the choice to get married. You were never cattle up for sale. You were never stripped of your humanity. You …due to your white privilege, have always had the choice to walk freely among this land, answering to no one.
So, my dear white folk, understand that while this might just a be fun “leap of faith” for you, “jumping the broom” is a very real tradition that we don’t, and won’t ever, take lightly.
Jumping the broom isn’t just another “fun” addition to your wedding ceremony. It is deeply rooted in African-American history, and we’d appreciate it if you treated it as such.