As the woman who tweeted this so eloquently captioned, “Why? Why.” The White couple above got married and decided they would jump the broom. We all know this is a Black tradition has roots (no pun intended) embedded in slavery. I’m all about having our culture admired, but emulated to the point of Columbusing is just not how any of this works.
There’s a rich history to the act of jumping the broom that doesn’t involve anyone with less melanin than me. In fact, many of us regard it as a tradition stemming from slavery, but it has roots deeper than that.
During the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, most of Ghana in the 18th century was ruled by the Asante of Ashanti Confederacy. And it’s been reported that the Asante’s urban areas and roads were kept clean with the use of locally made brooms. These same brooms were used by wives or servants to clean the courtyards of palaces or homes. The broom in Asante and other Akan cultures also held spiritual value and symbolized sweeping away past wrongs or removing evil spirits.
When it comes to marriage, brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would often, but not always jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony. Jumping over the broom symbolized the wife’s commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. It also expressed her overall commitment to the house she would share with her husband. Jumping the broom also represented the determination of who ran the household–whoever jumped highest over the broom was the decision maker of the household (usually the man).
Jumping the broom was a part of African culture that survived during American slavery. Once Blacks could have weddings with rings that were recognizable by anyone as a symbol of marriage, the broom ceremony wasn’t required. During this time, jumping the broom fell out of practice from the stigma it carried, and in some cases still carries, among African Americans who wanted nothing to do with anything associated with that era. However, because of Alex Haley’s book “Roots,” the jumping the broom tradition saw a resurgence.
When modern couples jump the broom, they are showing respect to our ancestors who married without recognition. This simple act of leaping over a broom laid on the floor is more than just a cute action for a photo opp; it’s a reminder that there was a time that Black people’s vows weren’t legally sanctioned. There was a time when Black people were free to live lives of royalty in Africa. For our ancestors, this small ritual was a legal and bonding act connecting them with the heritage of the motherland and giving dignity and strength to their unions. In their eyes this union was now sanctioned by God.
Update: I wouldn’t be doing my journalistic due diligence if I didn’t acknowledge the historical significance of jumping the broom in pre-Christian European cultures. While there’s no historical proof that jumping the broom has roots in Europe, it was a tradition they practiced.
In the late 18th century, the Celtics, Druids and Wiccans all developed their own style of a “Broom Jumping” tradition. The Welsh also had a centuries-old custom called “broom-stick weddings.” Scotland also had a similar custom. But this doesn’t mean they started it. In fact, slaves who were forced to come into America–a place with no real history all its own, nor rooted traditions, were all jumping the broom in the 16th century.
So, no White people, you can’t jump the broom. I don’t care if you watched the movie and you thought that TD Jakes made it ok for you to adopt our customs. I don’t care if you think it’s charming. Just don’t. I don’t see you wrapping yourself in a sari and preparing for a haldi–an Indian ritual holy bath in which tumeric, oil and water are applied to the bride and groom by married women. Because that’s a part of rich Indian culture, which you can admire, but not adopt.
Jumping the broom pays respect to our rich history. Taking the tradition from Africa, slaves who were forcefully brought to America weren’t allowed to wed or practice any traditional rituals that their masters could so easily and happily enjoy. I sure do hate to be exclusive around traditions because we live in a world that is now one big cultural melting pot, but honestly…there’s some traditions that need not cross racial lines. But then what if there’s a White groom and Black bride or vice versa? Should they jump the broom? Hmmm…
What do you think beauties–can White people jump the broom too? Sound off in the comments below.
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