African Americans and Africans

(Opportunities for Collaboration)

Africans and African Americans need to have a conversation to examine their relationship. Otherwise, their failure to understand each other will result in Obierika’s projection that the white man has put a knife in what holds them together, thereby leaving a massive gash in the fabric, with unrepairable consequences for its future generations.  It is up to all people of African ancestry to take this seriously and do something about it. Some of the incidents happening in the black community are very disturbing. Black on black crimes are on the increase, and people are more vocal about their ill feelings toward one another. It is hard to imagine people boycott a movie just because a British born actress, Cynthia Erivo, played the role of “Harriet Tubman.”  The boycott was spurred by a group known as the American Descendants of Slaves (ADOS) that cried out over Cynthia’s blackness, saying she is not black enough to play Harriet Tubman. All other races see people of African ancestry as one regardless of if they are African Americans, Native Africans, and Africans in the Caribbean, or wherever else they may be in the world.

The truth of the matter is, from both sides of the fence, there is unspoken or rarely spoken resentment.  With the propagation of media, some comments on social media about one another are visible to the public and seem hurtful. Such comments are made by Africans in Africa as well as those in America, claiming African Americans have access to resources but fail to utilize them well enough. At the same token, African Americans feel continental Africans should remain in Africa rather than come to America to take jobs; they believe, are meant for them.  On the brighter side, some continental Africans have shared that, at first sight of an African American, they have felt a brotherly or sisterly connection. They further explained that African Americans had features that resembled people from their clan, and this emotional connection inspired them to take the bond a step and establish a much longer-lasting brotherly relationship. Likewise, some African Americans have made significant efforts to trace their identifies through DNA, where they were able to find and reconnect with their roots. This reunion is beautiful and should be encouraged.

Resentments, inadequately addressed and reconciled, will further separate people of African ancestry for generations to come. While Okonkwo’s desire to fight the white man as a way to reclaim his traditions is definitely not the answer and is discouraged, both groups must address distinguish between being black and African, discuss identity, and devise a way to heal.  Responses to the following questions will help to reconcile any estranged relationships between both groups: Who is black in America? Is the term black the same as African Americans?  Are naturalized Africans and their children considered African Americans?  Have descendants of black immigrants taken over jobs meant for African Americans?  What jobs are set aside for African Americans and not black immigrants? Have black immigrants acknowledged the plight and the struggles of African Americans in America?  In what ways should they have expressed this acknowledgment to show empathy and reflect their narratives in the overall black struggle?  Are children of black immigrants considered African Americans? Is there anything as not being black enough?  Should these fears be cause for concern? If so, who and what caused it? How did it come about? Can there be true forgiveness and an opportunity to work together?