An interracial couple jumped the broom at their wedding and now Twitter is throwing stones. A couple named Jana and Marcus recently tied the knot and the photos from their ceremony have gone viral. Marcus, a Black man, is being heavily criticized for jumping the broom with his white bride, Jana.
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“This is a specific west African tradition that was kept alive during and after the chattel enslavement of Africans,” one person tweeted. “We weren’t able to marry during the bondage of Europeans and jumping the broom was extremely sacred. This isn’t an inclusive practice.”
“As an African, I wouldn’t even feel comfortable jumping the broom so the gall of a white person to do it is crazy to me,” someone else wrote.
Most Black people see jumping the broom as a tradition that originated during slavery, but research shows that’s untrue. Enslaved Americans jumped the broom during their marriage ceremonies as a way to solidify their bond. Since their marriage wasn’t legal, it was a way to recognize their union. However, this tradition was not started by the enslaved. The tradition actually began in Europe.
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According to University of Las Vegas professor Tyler D. Parry, “Pre-Christian Roma and Celtic communities in the British Isles were known for jumping the broom to seal their wedding vows,” In his book Jumping the Broom: The Surprising Multicultural Origins of a Black Wedding Ritual, he found that the tradition was used by marginalized populations in Europe in the 18th century. “Communities like the British Romani, rural Welsh communities, Irish individuals and various other people who lived on the margins of the British Isles” were jumping the broom at their weddings. As the British migrated to the United States, the tradition followed. Dr. Parry wrote that after it became a tradition used amongst the enslaved, they “innovated, reinvented and reimagined jumping the broom in a way that was fulfilling to them.”
Dianne Stewart, a professor at Emory University, wrote that the “tradition’s true origin story complicates its legacy.”
“While jumping the broom indeed predates African enslavement in America, it’s actually been traced to indigenous wedding rituals in Europe,” she wrote for Oprah Daily.
It’s even been suggested that this was a tradition forced on slaves.
“Once in the United States, white slave owners seemingly imposed the foreign custom upon couples who desired a symbolic ritual, according to Bosses and Broomsticks: Ritual and Authority in Antebellum Slave Weddings,” Stewart wrote. “Some slaveholders, in fact, unceremoniously introduced what they viewed as an old pagan custom to their enslaved laborers with more than a hint of paternalism and derision.”
While Twitter is bashing Marcus for using this tradition, it isn’t solely ours. Yes, it was sacred during slavery and has a significant place in our history. However, it was used across different cultures before it was adopted by enslaved Americans.