About a week or so ago I fell out with a former Facebook friend.
He posted something so heinous and morally reprehensible (to me at least) that I cursed him out and blocked him entirely.
“What did he say?” you might be wondering.
Well, he posted an intentionally inflammatory status that read, “African Americans are the White People of Black People.”
::Insert Scooby Doo “Awroof?!” right about here::
I had to blink my eyes several times just to make heads or tails out of this completely: ridiculous, stupid, and utterly asinine status message (that was clearly posted for shock value and the amount of comments and likes it could acquire). But yeah, this fool, a West African man by the way, actually had the audacity to post that festering pile of horse shit masquerading as a sociopolitical commentary.
Essentially, calling African Americans the White people of Black People was a gross insinuation that we, as African Americans (and by African Americans I am speaking SPECIFICALLY about the American branch of the African Diaspora. I am referring solely to the descendants of stolen Africans brought to America as slaves. So no don’t come up in here talking about Charlize Theron and any other continental born Black Africans immigrating to the United States. I am speaking only of US who were born here through kidnap and bondage), are somehow this privileged group of people that use our “privilege” to denigrate and oppress other black people around the globe.
Again, I don’t know if it was for the likes or if he really believed it. All I know is that a lot of other continental Black Africans were co-signing that foolishness and fuckery. That is when I’d had enough and lit his ass up. To that end I felt compelled to dismantle this lie that somehow African Americans are privileged within the white supremacist power structure known the world over as The United States of America.
Before I go in allow me to preface by stating that this is not a castigation of all continental Black Africans (don’t come in with that, “Not all Africans” bullshit. I am totally aware). Trust it will not that kinda party. I love Black people the world over. We are in the same situation as we deal and cope with global anti-blackness (we are the only people in the world where every language has a racial slur specifically for us. The ONLY people). I support all of my brethren and sistren (that’s not an actual word but damn it it’s one today) even as we’ve become more visibly proud (and loud) of who and what we are. However, I have a special place in my heart for African American people because that is who I AM. I’ll not see it vilified and disparaged by anyone, even if you are Black too. I say this because of the erroneous, baseless, and fact less critiques that I’ve been seeing levied at my community from other Black people.
From being called “The White People of Black People” to being told to stop “appropriating” African culture (Yeah, someone actually wrote an article about it that was all kinds of ridiculous. See it HERE) lately I am seeing A LOT of Continental Black Africans feeling themselves enough to openly come for the American Branch of The Diaspora, despite none of their generalizations being rooted in any semblance of truth.
For one thing Black People in general, African Americans in specific, cannot EVER appropriate culture. Appropriation occurs when the members of the DOMINANT culture assume the artifacts and iconography of MINORITY culture and take it as their own. Being that we are the minority group in the United States of America we cannot NOR will we ever be empowered to appropriate from the dominant culture (oh, Black women straightening their hair and wearing extensions is not appropriation from white women. It is assimilation. And sometimes it is just a lady changing her mood and wanting to wear straight hair). More importantly how in the hell can we appropriate culture from Africa when we ARE AFRICANS? The African in African American is not silent.
A year ago I did my ancestry.com DNA analysis and the results were beautiful. My ancestors were: Benian, Cameroonian, Ghanaian, Senegalese, and a 20% smattering of Euro-trash (that raped itself into the gene pool). So I wanna know how in the HELL am I appropriating culture if I choose to wear a Ghanaian dashiki one day? It ain’t appropriation when the culture is mine by DNA.
My people are a culled people.
We were stolen from our ancestral lands and had every single vestige of who we WERE beaten and raped out of us over the course of hundreds of years. So please pardon us “privileged” cultural appropriators for attempting to reconnect with who we ARE (and WERE) by discovering our roots and reconnecting with the African part of ourselves.
Let me tell you a little bit about my “Privileged” African American ass…
I don’t have a single goddamn clue about who any of my great grandparents were, NONE. My family tree–for me at least–literally stops at all of my dead grandparents. It wasn’t until I had my ancestry DNA test results done that I even got to touch the tip of the iceberg of what, I know, will be an even more extensive journey of who I am and where exactly I come from. This is the story for MILLIONS of African Americans and Afro Caribbeans around the globe.
Our ancestors were considered farm equipment, property. The ONLY records kept of them were tantamount to advertisements in a Macy’s sales paper. Unable to legally marry, unable to forge their own destinies, and unable to read or write, all of my people are phantoms. I only know that they lived because I am here. And I have resigned myself to the fact that I will probably never ever know their names and how much of them still lives in me.
Everyday that I look in the mirror and trace the geography of my face I wonder did my eyes come from Cameroon?
Is my nose more reminiscent of someone who lives in Senegal or Benin?
Where did they come from prior to my mother and father coming together?
Despite the fact that I pride myself on knowing myself there is still so much mystery within because I know that I will never TRULY know from whence I came.
That is one of the myriad of “privileges” that comes with being African American.
My ancestors toiled from sun up to sun day, day in and day out, building the economy that turned this country into a world super power. And still their descendants only enjoy a modicum of the fruits of that labor (while the descendants of their oppressors live fat).
I ask you where is this vaunted privilege that we African Americans are supposed to have?
We are over represented in the industrial prison complex.
We are more likely than our white counterparts to be imprisoned for LONGER sentences for the exact same crimes.
We are also more likely to be murdered and brutalized by police officers than any other group.
12 Years ago I watched family and friends drudge through the water logged streets of New Orleans, Louisiana for DAYS while the Bush administration did jack shit. Had the victims of the flooding been white it would have been a different story, but New Orleans is predominantly Black and it apparently didn’t matter.
The Tuskegee Experiments.
Black Wall Street.
The 4 Little Girls in The Church.
The Little Rock Nine.
I could go on but this isn’t the oppression Olympics (I won’t ever play that game)…
With that said…
Yes, in spite of institutionalized racism and structural inequality African Americans have made significant strides. No one is even denying that. We are the most lit and wonderful people on Earth as far as I’m concerned. Our culture and contributions permeate every goddamn culture on this planet!
Hip Hop? Uhm, we did that son!
Rock and Roll? That is us too (Big Mama Thornton tamed that Hound Dog way before Elvis stole and white washed him. And Jimmy Hendrix perfected the electric guitar WAAAY before your favorite hairbands copied him).
Jazz? African Americans (thought you knew).
As far as I’m concerned without the African American contribution to the arts this country would be a soulless culture void wasteland.
Yet, we still don’t benefit from our creations insofar as the white studio executives do in mass marketing, selling, and appropriating them for audiences around the globe.
Ya’ll just because you see power couples like: Barack and Michelle, Beyonce and Jay Z, and Will and Jada, does not mean that we have overcome the trials and tribulations that this country still hurls in our direction. Whenever we start winning the race they move the finish line. That is what we have dealt with for centuries.
So my Black Brethren around the globe before you fix your faces to offer up your stupid, insipid, and assholish anti-African American platitudes how about taking a moment to actually LEARN about the history of Black people–YOUR PEOPLE–in the United States of American. You know learn something about us as opposed to studying us through the lens of white supremacy much the same way that your white counterparts do.
I’m just sayin.
The negro who originally wrote that “African Americans are The White People of Black People” was married to a white woman, has three biracial children, and lives in London. Now ain’t that about nothin?