African American Heritage & Ethnography African Nation Founders: Learning Resources Center—Further Reading


James William Brodman suggests in Charity and Welfare: Hospitals and the Poor in Medieveal Catolonia that even though municipal hospitals did not appear to discriminate against members of the community seeking help, confraternities like Cofradia Nigrorum Libertate Datorum Civitatus Barchininote and Cofradia de San Jaime Apostol de Negros clothed and feed members of their own groups as well as provided foster care for abandoned children. The confraternity in Barcelona kept no record of the mothers status to ensure that no “servile condition” would pass to the child. The two-tier system of socio-economic divisions in the “New World” in which bozales (unacculterated Africans) and ladinos (hispanicized people of African descent) performed different duties may have also affected the organization of confraternities throughout the Americas (Landers 1999).

Meiko Nishida suggests that confraternities in some areas segregated themselves according to ethnicity because of the exclusion faced by many new African arrivals from mulatto confraternities. Nishida also reports that while ethnicity was key, many Angolan confraternities did not actively exclude potential members and in fact often had mulatto and white members who would benefit from being a part of the order through funeral services that were provided. Cases have also been noted in which individuals belonged to several confraternities as a symbol of status, status which was seen by the number of people attending funerals (Nishida 1998).