(Note: This post was previously written in ’11 on the akatadiary.com…. reposted here on my new site after several requests! Thanks guys for your support xx)
I decided to write this post in response to a conversation I had earlier with a African nurse who kept me company for a good while today. The long talk got started after I asked the lady where she was from (she had a thick accent from my standpoint) and me being the open person that I am decided to be honest but very blunt about the fact that she is the nicest Nigerian I had ran into in a very long time. She laughed but gave me a very straight faced look and then I instantly knew she was offended which I didn’t mean for as a response. Then, off the chatting went!
Most of our conversation dealt with the question of why is there such a distance between African american and African relations? It is very much noticeable that too often the only thing we have in common is the color of our skin. But, me being in my second relationship with a native African and always being interested in Black Culture and learning my past- have always pushed the envelope when it comes to befriending such people. So maybe I am just different.
It’s my opinion first off that on both sides of the coin – there seems to be an ignorance and lack of knowledge about each others very cultural, deep rooted history that in the end, we both share a certain part of. I honestly can say I was taught nothing about African History, especially West and East African culture during my time growing up in the public school system. The only thing I ever remember learning about from the motherland was about the ancient Egyptians. But, there were tons of British, German and even Asian history that I can remember studying about. I remember reading nothing of African achievements beyond Nelson Mandela and all that I did discover I did so on my own as a teenager as I was the ultimate book worm. I feel black Americans certainly do not know enough about African culture and we should not depend on the public school system or anyone else to teach our children for us. We should be more involved in teaching these things ourselves. But to teach, we have to also learn. Negative views that a lot of black people have of Africa including its inability to modernize, inferiority etc., just sadly separate us more. These ideas I believe were placed in AA’s minds over decades of living in a white man’s country and constantly being fed what is acceptable (European culture) and what isn’t.
I am not for sure, but I can stand to ask how many Africans have studied much about the very rich African american History as well? I’m sure not much if any at all. Unlike what I’m sure some people think, we are not the least bit culture-less because we don’t know a specific tribe or country where our ancestors came from. How many of you have heard or studied in class about our Harriet Tubman, our Sojourner Truth, our Joseph Cinque and even Nat Turner among many others… I only wonder.
I’ve have had many Africans tell me personally that they perceive the hostility between us as coming from African-Americans 100% of the time. And interestingly enough, many African Americans including myself first perceived hostility and arrogance coming from native Africans. This is very odd to me, especially when I have been told several times of the fact of how in some african countries black America in idealized in huge ways, from music culture, speech and slang and dress. I don’t know how extended this idea is though, seriously.
Here in the US, many of the africans I run in contact with honestly are mean to me. If not mean, then rude in nature. If not rude, then bitter or non conversational. Cold is the best way to put it… but I’m glad that for every sour grape, there is another the total opposite. and I have many friends of different cultures because of my acceptance of that.
I think that many Africans who come to America for studies or for a better life or whatever, come with all that they have- and so they will strive to do their best in all for their families and for themselves. Basically taking advantage of what is to be had here in the US. Most African immigrants are very hard workers. But then, they turn around at the same token, take a look at us African Americans as a whole and cannot understand why so many of the AA’s here are struggling, no nothing of African american history, they cannot understand or embrace the AA culture, and therefore do nothing but look down on us. So many people (not only blacks or africans) notice the dysfunctionality in many African american families and take on a view of that there must be something wrong with the people as a whole. They do this without understanding or taking in to account HOW this culture developed in the first place. Not an excuse but AA’s throughout the last 200 years went through a hell of a lot of psychological trauma (including slavery, segregation, racism, murders etc ) that left wounds and scars that has since affected the psyche of many and has been passed on through generations without even realizing or being taught how to heal.
So, I will stop for now. But, I am curious to know what do you think are the main barriers between African and African American Relations? What can be done to start to change each others stereotypes of each other? Do you think things will ever get better?
Your thoughts are appreciated Lets start discussing!