A comment in a recent conversation: “Seems to me that, like the beautiful, Chimamanda Adchie, you don’t really understand what being Black in America is really about.”
The real issue is that Black Americans don’t understand that not every black person they meet is a Black American, thinks like a Black American or wants to be a Black American.
The conversation brought this post in 2011 back to mind:
Asa, you make a serious point when you spoke about Caribbean nations and African nations winning their independence long years ago. Most AA’s don’t realize this feeling since we are still living in the belly of the beast so to speak. My own mind had to transform and learn I was greater than I believed. Many of us here that are from the States, born and raised, are quick to say “they ain’t gone let a black man do…” Even, in recent years I continued to transform and no longer buy this “descendents of slaves” thought. Not many of us are really sure that our ancestors were slaves. We believe it, but we truly don’t know. The overt destruction of Jim Crow made most of us believe we had to have been slave. Yet, few will believe their family may have been “free” during slavery and may have had their lands and properties stolen during the Jim Crow period. Or, maybe the family lost all during the depression. We really don’t know.
I did note you wrote this in the original post “When I was in Africa, initially whenever I would meet someone they would assume I was African-American. When I informed them that I was from Canada with Jamaican roots, their attitude towards me noticibly Wchanged They were friendly enough to begin with, but afterwards they greeted me as a brother they hadn`t seen in a long time
They were friendly enough to begin with, but afterwards they greeted me as a brother they hadn`t seen in a long time changed. They were friendly enough to begin with, but afterwards they greeted me as a brother they hadn`t seen in a long time
Sorry, to post so choppy. My computer was acting strange. Being that the people of Ghana treated you “friendlier” when they know you were a citizen of Canada and of Jamaican roots, what so you think may have happened to Luciano in Nigeria in December of 2011? Maybe Nigerians treat everyone that are not Nigerian this way? Maybe?
It appears from the article it was just a few fans who were being unruly and disrespectful to Luciano. I have really close friends who are Nigerians who have invited me to travel with them back home. I’ve hung out with them and gone to their celebrations in Ottawa and Toronto and I’ve had no problems. They play reggae music along with their own Nigerian music.
I’m sure there are some people who have visited Ghana and didn’t have the positive experiences I had. I can only speak to my experiences. I was treated extremely well in Senegal, Gambia and Ghana. I know Adrian who blogs here periodically, an African-American who lives in South Africa, has shared some of his experiences with me. Some people treat him like a brother, while some treat him as a foreigner. As far as I could tell at the time I was in Ghana, for the locals it was all about attitude and most expressed that they found African Americans arrogant. With that said, I did meet a couple of African-American expats who were living and working there and they seemed to love it there and get along with the locals. There are exceptions to every rule, however the exceptions also prove the rule.
@Asa…Perusing my links today, I came across this offering of yours and was surprised to find this one sentence from our emailed conversations used as a basis for your post along with your one sentence reply:
“A comment in a recent conversation: “Seems to me that, like the beautiful, Chimamanda Adchie, you don’t really understand what being Black in America is really about.”
The real issue is that Black Americans don’t understand that not every black person they meet is a Black American, thinks like a Black American or wants to be a Black American.”
It’s unfortunate that all you were able to intuit from those conversations was “African American Arrogance,” particularly since I’d added both the link and the part from her interview which gave that one sentence you extracted context; the part that in no way says what you’d have folk believe it does, my Brother:
“I think also that many black immigrants don’t realize that they’re able to be here and do what they’re doing because of the sacrifices of African Americans. They don’t know the history. I didn’t when I came. An African American man called me “sister” once, and I was like ‘No, no, no, I’m not your sister, I’m not doing that.’ It took about a year of reading, learning, watching, for me to really come around and realize that there’s a context— you know, I read African American history and I’m just amazed at how recent some of the things that happened were. I’m not talking about slavery, I’m talking about 40 years ago. But when immigrants come here they absorb stories that have no context and no history. So it’s ‘oh, black Americans are very lazy. They all live in the inner city because, you know, they don’t want to work hard.’ Sometimes you’re in a gathering of immigrants, and some of the talk can sound like you’re in Alabama in 1965.
It’s very depressing, because I’ve come to deeply, deeply admire African American history and African American people. Their story is the one I most admire, the one I’m most moved by. But then, there are different ways of being black, there are different blacks. I’ve come to very happily identify as black, and I like to joke about wanting to go back and find that man who called me sister, because I would hug him. But my experience is different. My experience of blackness is different from African Americans, and for me it’s still a learning process, because there are things that I can’t inhabit. Now I know racial subtleties, now I get it. But I don’t have the history, and it’s different.
I wish there was a bit more understanding of the many blacks, and the many sort of permutations of blackness. I would like every black immigrant who comes here to take a course in African American history.”
(Here’s the link to her entire Salon interview if anybody’s interested:
Your “real” issue, needless to say, is not mine — nor does it have to be. As a matter of fact, during the “conversations,” I also said this to you:
I don’t know how to be an African Black person, or a Caribbean Black person, but I’m trying to learn, so I can close that, “distance deliberately created” (planning on spending a few months in The Gambia come November).” What I absolutely refuse to do, is take on the standards of the oppressor, which are contrived to erase a culture that always has been, and continues to be more than they’ve ever had.
I don’t know about you, but that’s the reality of my living today.
My view is that, “we people who are darker than blue” (to borrow from Curtis Mayfield) continue to fall for the divide-and-conquer tactics of colonialism, slavery, Jim Crow and the rabid racism that still exists worldwide. And we continue, to live some aspect of the social “construct” that is race, all while experiencing plenty “real,” (as opposed to merely constructed) consequences of that living — whether we want to acknowledge it or not. I choose to acknowledge it, so that I can do my small part in changing it — because I truly believe if we don’t try and change it together, we, “as a people of African descent” in this world will be, for all intents and purposes, erased, which, IMHO, is what is desired by the current powers-that-be (gives them an out for all the murderous, oppressive, stealing, uncivilized behavior of which they are certainly guilty).
Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” I hadn’t before, but now I do.
Peace to you and yours, Brother…
@Amenta…“Many of us here that are from the States, born and raised, are quick to say “they ain’t gone let a black man do…” Even, in recent years I continued to transform and no longer buy this “descendents of slaves” thought. Not many of us are really sure that our ancestors were slaves. We believe it, but we truly don’t know.”
Brothe, we’ve had this conversation <i exhaustively on my blog so I won’t beat a dead horse here. A few things I know are true: Your, “they ain’t gone let a black man do…” is valid, way more than you choose to accept. The obstructionism of white supremacy still looms large in our lives — no matter how much we want to believe that — “we’ve arrived.” I’m happy for your “transforming,” my only question is, transforming into whom, or what? While you may not be sure about your slave descendants, I am. I’ve been following crumbs for years that have led me to the truth (and while I’m still trying to nail down the exact region “from whence I came,” I’v got records to prove what I say, which is important to me). I’m not ashamed of who we’ve been. Contrarily, I’m forever proud. Given the path we’ve had to walk as a people, in this world, it gives me continued strength and a sense of self that bolsters me through the “shining up sh*t and calling it gold”; through the questioning of the values with which I’ve been raised; through the fire…
Yes Deb we have had conversations on this subject and of course we do agree to disagree. I think though that I am not making myself clear (no pun intended…LOL!) I am totally aware that so called white people are and may continue to be a stumbling block in our way of progress in some instances. I am not blind to this fact. I remember that Bill Cosby along with Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan pooled funds together to purchase NBC and they were blocked by the white elites. My point is not to ignore this reality, but to continue on in spite of this reality. Far too many so called black people DO NOT EVEN TRY to do things because they chant the mantra of “the white man ain’t gonna let you do…” This has become a stopper.
I am a believer of what you say creates your world. Because we Black Americans have chanted this mantra we have many many people that are simply not putting forth their best efforts because this mantra stops them. I see it every day. I had a conversation with a man just the other day who said that he was not going to persue a certain endeavor because he lives out this mantra. It plays as a song in his head. This is a powerful reason so many Black Americans are lagging behind. I came to learn that what we believe and what we say will be created in front of us. The Ancient ancestors made it well clear that they would remain alive as long as we could speak their names. They knew and understood that the speaking of words where things, not just empty sounds. With that knowledge I found it best to stop speaking such words of “the white man ain’t gonna let me do…” I began to speak the words of “I will” matters not what the white man or even the black man can or cannot do to let me. Positive words create a positive world. I chose to speak positive. For this reason I began to concentrate on saying positive.
To continue to chant the other mantra of “we are descendants of slaves” does not create a positive path. I wanted to begin to focus on the positive. When studying we most often study the things that will lead to the outcome we are looking for. Rarely do we study what appears to be opposite of what we believe. I read a book by Joel A. Rogers that documented that there were over 6000 black slave owners during the slave period. My first impression was that these people owned their family members. However, the percentage of Black slave owners owning their relatives was much less than the black slave owners that were in business for profit using black people as chattel. It also suggested there was a level of wealth among Black people that was previously ignored when reading of slavery days. I also pondered how so called slaves could immediately take full control of Congress during Reconstruction if they were people that were forbidden to ever learn to read.
This is only a sample of why I began to transform my thought process. These people were not slaves they were enslaved, many were educated, could read and write. And there many many free black people and some that were never enslaved. I had to think if a Black man had no rights a white man was bound to respect, how could we have cases of black people buying their way out of slavery? How could they go to court file a motion in court and win their freedom in court and even change their names via the court system? Thus began my transformation away from singing the song of “sons and daughters of slaves and the white man ain’t gonna let me do.” Even in my own family on my maternal side are well documented land owners in Mississippi as far back as the late 1800’s until this day. Were some slaves? Yes.
More importantly they were and are still large land owners in that state now. I chose to begin to focus and sing the song of their abilities. To speak about and focus on the power of Black people and no longer sing the song of being the son of slaves but to sing the song of my ancestors being land owners and business men and professors because some may have been enslaved but still were business men, doctors, ministers and land owners and artisans. I speak of their greatness to create a positive mind set rather than as slaves that keeps a poor mindset. This thought process has nothing to do with shame or non-shame, I have no shame in that. It would be foolish of me to speak of shame because some other people put something upon our ancestors. I simply choose to say and do the positive never forgetting the time in which we were enslaved, but when one really does the knowledge, we find our ancestors were really prisoners of war. A long war that was worldwide. I have no shame nor am I ignorant of racism and white supremacy. But, far too many of us focus on racism/white supremacy when we should be looking at the elites vs the rest of us.
When the government sprays Chem trails those chemicals fall on everyone black, white, Latino, Asian and whatever people want to call themselves. When learn that the women of North American have the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, this means white, black , Latino, Asian and whatever are all developing cancer in North American. When black people focus on blacks being the highest in unemployment and we are screaming for jobs, but ignore that even getting a job and using Federal Reserve notes that are manipulated and devalued then we are focused in the wrong direction IMO. When the $5 you have buys you less than it did last month, that, my people, has nothing at all to do with race or white supremacy.
I know I was too long.
I lived in Africa for two years and I can truly say that I have NEVER experienced the kind of hatred I experienced there from African women. When I came to Africa on a special assignment I didn’t know that African women despised fair skinned African American women so badly. I am mixed as my grandmother is European but I know who I am and I love my country America. Too many Africans believe the negative stereotypes they see and read in the media about us. Before living in Africa I thought my African heritage was something to be proud of but after being treated like an outsider so badly in African I am proud to say that I am an American period. Living there scarred me. The country, however was beautiful.
Mixed Afro descendants born and bred across the Americas travel to Africa, and all over this world all the time, and never experience any hatred from African women .
We took our Nigerian neighbor to visit with us in my native Panama, a country where the majority of the people are mixed, and she had no problem feeling at home.
This beautiful young Nigerian woman even received many marriage proposals from mixed looking Panamanian men, and frankly she did not want to leave Panama.
I have had contacts with many Africans, and I can say that African women don’t have to envy any woman over anything.
African women are beautiful, sweet, feminine,graceful and intelligent, and they certainly have international appeal.
And for God’s sake,Africa is not a country, but a huge continent that is rich in human and every other type of diversity.
And the day I open my mouth talking about people despise , jealous and envy me because I am mixed, somebody, anybody out there, please, throw some coconuts and hit me right in the head.