Wednesday, July 15, 2009
African vs. African American
It's a tension Unspoken; a love-hate relationship that often pits the African experience against the African American experience. It often lurks undetected but like a Mamba slithering through the tall wispy blades of our black sub-conscious when provoked it strikes with an indiscriminately potent and unforgiving venom. Its a tension born out of misunderstanding; a tension rooted in misconceptions; and a tension fueled by a misguided interpretation of each others' values.
We often reduce each other to mere stereotypes and caricatures as we assign characteristics that are ill-conceived and uncomplimentary; stereotypes that are further reinforced by the media. The African at times may see the African American as nothing more than a sell-out, an "uncle Tom" or "Menace to Society" while the African American reduces the African to nothing more than those "Hakuna Matata", "Blood Diamond", dashiki-wearing stereotypes. I trust your intellect and so I need not explore or submit a plethora of examples that expound on what I am talking about primarily because I believe that if you're black then you're not blind to it and if you're anything else you can often see it play out with your own kind, the Mexican vs. the Mexican American; the Asian vs. the Asian American and so on.
You see, there is a tension that often forgets that we are a people who share a common legacy and although we were separated by a common injustice, it is this shared heritage we should celebrate. It's a legacy and heritage that predates Michael Jackson and Bob Marley, a history bigger than Martin Luther King Jr and Nelson Mandela, Miriam Makeba or Rosa Parks; a history with more talent than Kobe Bryant, Pele, Okocha or Brian Lara; a legacy and heritage more tragic than colonialism & slavery and yet more monumental and awe-inspiring than the Pyramids of Giza or the Great Zimbabwe.