What Does It Really Take to Be African?

by Clara Wanjku

Reading through Demetria Lucas’ ‘Not African Enough for Africa,’ prompted a few questions for me as an African woman. What exactly does being African mean? Is it a cultural thing? A color thing? Why do African Americans believe they would feel at home in Africa despite having no tangible link to the continent?

As I read through the comments it was obvious, that to a lot of African Americans, Africa is a vital piece of the identity puzzle. And I get it.

Think about it for a minute. Many Black Americans have often identified as African first and an American later. So, it makes sense that they would expect acceptance in Africa, especially since their existence in America has been difficult.

African Americans were not willing visitors to America. You were torn away from what you knew to help grow a foreign economy and were never compensated for your labor. Even now, despite your contributions, you are not really welcome, and everyday there is another reminder that you are not the same.

Add to that the fact that Marcus Garvey’s Back to Africa movement made returning to the continent seem like the solution to the problems affecting Blacks in the Diaspora. In Africa, you would never be ‘the other’.  You would be fully accepted and embraced for you were once again the majority. And while things did not go quite as planned, many African Americans passed that idea down through generations. Africa became a place where you would not be the other, not a minority. It became a place where nearly everyone looked like you. You would not have to be stopped because you were black, get tagged with the Angry Black woman stereotype because no one would notice….seeing as everyone was just as black as you.

Unfortunately, the reality—as Lucas pointed out—is very different. Skin color is not enough to make you fit in, and when selling the African dream someone forgot to tell you a couple of things.

Culture trumps color. The ability to speak local languages is just one aspect. Honestly, even if you made the effort to learn the language, there are still the social cues and the slang that many would probably miss. Unfortunately, a white African would be seen as more authenticly “African” than an Black American in many instances, because in the space of two generations, the term ‘White African’ has become acceptable. In my grandparents’ days, if you were white, you were either a missionary or a colonizer. You were a stranger, never African.

The fact that African-born Whites can now claim Africa as their home is proof that culture is dynamic. In less than a hundred years, White Africans are a legitimate part of the continent. So, if such a huge change has occurred in that short span of time, how could African Americans–who are separated by hundreds of years of differences–think they will just immediately mesh into one of Africa’s many cultures? It is almost impossible.

As a child, my father had a friend–a former Black Panther–who moved to Tanzania in the late seventies. During that time, Tanzania was practicing African Socialism and he was very excited to live and farm among his people. Over 30 years later, he is still seen as a foreigner, even though he speaks Kiswahili with great fluency and has assimilated as best as he knows how.

I sympathize with wanting to know who you are, with being a child of two worlds who doesn’t quite fit into either one. I know Blacks in the Diaspora want a place where they can just be themselves, but sadly, Africa isn’t it.

Here, you are American; you have been away for five hundred years. We do not have the same experiences to bond us, the same languages to help us bridge the gap, the same memories of how things were.

Please come visit and walk the paths your ancestors walked. But that is all we can give you.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com/ girlformerlyknownasgrace

    Shoot, even I have a hard time going back to Africa, and I am first-generation American.

    And that is the key. People need to stop thinking of Africa as something you “go back to.” Semantics such as “get in touch with my roots,” “discover my past,” imply that Africa is in some sort of primitive state or timeless Eden that could one could return to. Africa (and yes, all of its countries, I know it is not a monolith) has kind of moved on without their long-lost African-American brethren.

    This article, makes me think of Smokie Robinson’s poem, “Black American” on youtube:

    And, if you go to Africa in search of your race/
    You’ll find out quick you’re not an African American/
    You’re just a Black American in Africa takin’ up space!

    Why you keep trying to attach yourself to a continent/
    Where if you got the chance and you went/
    Most people there would even claim you as one of them.
    As a pure bread daughter or son of them.

    Your heritage is right here now, no matter what you call yourself or what you say/
    And a lot of people died to make it that way….

  • AustralianGirl

    I dont know….I think some Africans on this site should stop being so harsh towards African-Americans…..
    Not particularly talking about this author, just generally.

    Feel free to disagree if you will, just putting it out there

  • arlette

    i spent my first seven years in africa so when i sometimes go back i feel like i belong there, i do plan to live there in the future or have a holiday house there. my parents bought a retirement house there as well. i always feel welcomed (btw i am british) when i go there and i dont feel out of place at all as i have many relatives who live there, i speak swahili as well as my mother tongue kinyarwanda.

  • arlette

    honestly i dont regard african americans as actual africans. maybe this is due to the many stereotypes of americans when they travel. the fact that many AA dont have a direct link to africa or that most dont know exactly where in africa they come from.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    Aww that is a sad sentiment actually.

    I do not know that it is best expressed not as “you are not welcome here in Africa.” I think it is more like “we have a hard time relating to you in the here and now.” I think African Americans -descendants of slaves- have such a rich history of their own here in America. When I go to Nigeria I know who I am going back to and it must be frustrating to go back–and yet not really go back. There is a real sense of never knowing your history that seems ever-elusive. But whenever you go to any country you will meet the range of people- some who are welcoming and some less so. But your experience is what you make of it. If you are determined to find joy out of a visit there you will most certainly find it.

  • CHE

    Boy, here we go again
    Ill take the bait:

    Arlette and Grace….who cares what you think and who cares what you think of how Black Americans choose to define themselves. Again, what do Africans think they can give us that we cannot give ourselves? Its funny- if a White person or other non Black were to say we are moving to Africa I really dont think africans would put up a fuss but let a Black American suggest such a thing then all these Africans come out of the woodwork talking their nonsense; Why? Why so much fear it sounds like? Is there something in Africa you all do not want Black Americans to see? Do you all think , oh I dont know, that Black Amerians are somehow incapable of handling your continent, or maybe we would handle it too well and have too much influence or bring too much change or some other reason?

    If Black Americans, Caribbeans did decide to go back and claim Africa and settle there- who is going to stop them(africans?LOL) and what do you Africans think they would be doing so out of the ordinary(are Black Americans/ Caribbeans clamoring to get to Africa?) that they cannot and will not fit in? Of course there is the question of culture, language and blah,blah,blah….but- newsflash- Black Americans are HUMANS with their own language, culture and they would make it work and adjust and maybe excel?(Im sure the foreign Blacks on the continent are educated)- just like so many of you Africans, who are in an America made much less treacherous for you all by the fight of Black Americans.

    Hate to break it to you all but there are a number of Black Americans/ Caribbeans in Ghana, South Africa- I met some in Senegal when I visited- and I am sure they are all over the continent….and they are *gasp* living, working, getting married, having children, being ordinary etc -just like most people in the world.

  • Kai

    I am NOT African. Realizing this has changed my life for the better. People need to understand that while African-Americans were stolen from Africa and that our roots are very much “African,” we have built a new, rich culture and identity. I don’t know why this is such a harsh reality for some to grapple with :S

    Everyone forgets that even the earliest freed slaves tried to claim their “Africanness” by going to Sierra Leone and Liberia too if I’m not mistaken. But even that migration caused issues, and there was major tension between freed slaves and the same Indigenous people who lived there.

    I have no claim to a land or a culture that I do not know. I can only build up the culture that I love and has made me who I am today. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to read Stuart Hall and get with the program.

  • CHE

    Yes @Australian Girl

    Why do Africans feel as if they can comment on how Black Americans define themselves, if they should go back to Africa(if only out of curiosity), if they will fit in in Africa, if they will be welcomed, etc, and blah, blah, blah,. Do Africans think we care and do they think we are asking their permission to visit, settle, or claim it? IF WE SO CHOOSE….especially when so many of them are stating these opinions in an America,on an American website- made much less treacherous for them-* by the descendants of slaves*-(our ancestors- the Alphas and the Omegas) who fought to the death sometimes for their god given humanity and rights and by extention opened America to Africans who benefit greatly from the Black American fight. Why do they sound so fearful- to me- at the thought of Black Americans returning to Africa or is the issue that they believe all they see in the media about BLack Americans and so feel they have to protect their precious Africa? Yes…I believe that is the biggest issue- Africans believe everything they see in the media about BlackAmericans; And even though Black Americans- also see in the same media- all the crazy stories about Africa and Africans, some of us choose to go see for ourselves with an open mind.

    LOL…We are not asking Africans for ANYTHING- not acceptance, nor for family or permission. I dont know too many Blacks here(not yet anyhow-LOL) who are clamoring to get to Africa but if and when they so choose- Africans cannot stop us or give us permission.

  • CHE

    Also totally agree with your perspective Kai.

  • Mary mary

    Actually, my experience has found that color trumps culture. I am first generation west African American, but when I lived in Rwanda with 4 white Americans, I felt more comfortable and aligned with my Rwandan friends and colleagues than with my 4 white American roommates. These girls came from different parts of American than I did and had different interests. In fact, I was better friends with the white Australian friend I made than with my roomies. I was never identified as rwandan by my Rwandan friends, but I never tried too and I was open to learning about the country and culture. But our shared experience of being black in the world and our similar attitude about was something strong we could relate too.

  • Yeahright2011

    @CHE

    I think you pretty much said what needed to be said. Blacks in the US don’t export their degenerates and the Blacks that do leave the US to go anywhere have an education, financial resources, and looking to contribute. Ironically most immigrants coming to the US bring nothing. And that’s okay……..for now.

  • lala

    Correction, many White Africans (Afrikaners in South Africa of Cutch heritage) have been in Africa over 2 centuries and cannot relate with Europe (Netherlands specifically) so its the same parallel as African Americans who have been in America over 2 centuries as well.

    Saying White Africans became so over few decades is quite incorrect. Some white people migrated to Cape of Good Hope since the 1600s. That’s why they were able to even have apartheid.

    I am black African fyi. Just a history major and wanted to point this out to you.

  • Yeahright2011

    “I am NOT African. Realizing this has changed my life for the better. ”

    I can affirm this.

  • justanerd

    So while I was in undergrad this conversation always came up between Africans and African-Americans (some prefer the term Black American) and occasionally West Indians. At the end of the day native born Africans have a narrow view of African Americans and African Americans have a narrow view of Africans…..this is all because of the media and different personal experiences. To each his/her own.

    Also, once you’ve been long removed from a particular place, being ‘accepted’ or ‘welcomed’ will always be difficult. There are plenty of White people in America that have direct lineage to England, France, Germany; however I’m very sure that their experiences are similar. Because this is land of the “melting pot” whenever Americans travel abroad, we will always be branded American first, despite our race and even name. Luckily for us the world is globalizing and cultures and ethnicities are continuously being mixed. As globalization progresses, I think our opinions and views will also change over time about each other.

  • http://museandwords.com NinaG

    cosign. As a daughter of West African Immigrants, I’m easily rejected in my parent’s home country for not speaking the language and being raised in the States. BUT like Che says, I’m not asking for anyone’s permission to be who I am. Wherever I go, I know I have to create community.

    I also think it’s interesting that Wanjku talks about the cultural shift that occurred as African-born whites started to claim Africa. What about the shifts in Liberia? You note Marcus Garvey’s movement as a failure but American born blacks claiming Liberia did lead to a whole lot of shifts there.

  • http://roslynholcomb.wordpress.com Roslyn Hardy Holcomb

    I think it’s past time for African Americans to stop wandering off to Africa like a band of homeless refugees. This is one of the most disturbing aspects of the Black Nationalist movements. By telling us that we’re not Americans these leaders took away a crucial aspect if who and what we are. If we’re not Americans, and we sure as hell aren’t. Africans, what are we? This loss of home, this rootlessness has led to a sense of loss many of us can’t serm to overcome. You can’t tell a people that they have no place to call home and expect them to thrive. We are Americans. First and foremost. It’s not a perfect relationship and many times it’s not comfortable, but it is ours, and nobody can take it from us. It is birthright. Our ancestors fought and died to build this country. Our music is its soundtrack. Our literature tells the only truth of America. How could we be other than what we are?

  • GS

    Hi fellow rwandese

  • ary

    i do not completely understand the usefulness of these recent articles. i think they are very reductive by assuming ALL parts of africa and ALL people in those places will react to black americans in the same way. i am speaking as a first-generation american, aware of the privilege of us citizenship. but anyway, i agree that folks in the us can romanticize africa and sometimes are more into the aesthetics (ie the textiles everywhere in fashion these days, jewelry, etc) than the history or current realities. but i think there is potential to BRIDGE black people throughout the diaspora and to do that we all need to be a little more open-minded and understanding of each other. and to understand that all these identifiers – ie african-american, black american, black, african – can mean different things and carry different histories to different people that claim them. and other people have told us what we are or should be for so long that i for one am not going to tell another black person who or what they are. africa (her branches worldwide) unite!

  • odemata

    This is a sad article filled with sad comments. Have we learned nothing of the past Pan-Africanist movements which linked us all, in the diaspora and continent as a family? Does kwame Nkrumah and such even ring a bell to anyone anymore on this page? No tangle connection indeed. Its not only within our DNA the connection but within our culture, history and spirit. Have we become so out of touch with our shared blight which has impacted us all? I guess slavery and its effects on both the continental Africans and those within the diasporas has been erased huh? The wool is still took thick and I would suggest the author as well those who comment to do some history as to how welly connected we are, as a people, and not forget ever just as some groups do not forget the effects of their own persecutions.

  • http://therationalprogressive.com/ James Andre

    This article is a bit silly, dismissive, and above all, disappointing.

    The author displays complete ignorance not only of American culture, but cultural dynamics altogether. In the States, people have issues with cultural assimilation when they do nothing more than move to a new neighborhood.

    Americans, especially Black Americans, understand ‘trying to fit in.’ That is not and has never been the issue. The author completely misses the point by making the advantage of African return sound like a disadvantage.

    EVERYONE is judged by their culture. That is no shock or surprise. The difference is that Black Americans in Africa will not be dismissed or blindsided because of the color of their skin.

    Finally, it seems quite arrogant to tell complete strangers, from a culture you clearly do not understand, what an entire continent has to offer them. Honestly, this article is a bit of an embarrassment.

  • HowApropos

    I’m honestly sick of Africans trying to tell AA what’s wrong with them. So what’s the problem with visiting Africa? Because I’m a black American? Because if that’s the case, then WHY ARE A LOT OF YOU IN THE UNITED STATES?

    Should I get on my high-horse and tell you that you’re not a REAL AMERICAN because you visit this country?

    GTFOHWTBS.

    Damn-near every African I’ve encountered has this attitude and it’s irritating. You don’t like me because I’m a black American, fine. But stop thinking that we can’t even visit Africa because of some mindset that we’re not ‘real African.

    Kill that noise…

  • omfg

    dunno, africans sometimes just don’t get certain things.

    i know italian americans, irish americans, german americans, vietnamese americans, etc. who always “go back” to their “homeland” or place of origin to rediscover or learn about their roots but are not ostracized for doing so.

    italy, ireland, germany, and other places are not regarded as backward primitive places because people regard them as the place from where their ancestors sprung. and italians, the irish, etc. don’t necessarily regard their returned children as horribly as africans do.

    it is natural for diasporans of all kinds to want to see the place from where they sprang.

    having said all that, i know i am whole as a black american because i know my history.

    i just think africans have yet to figure out how to deal with the diaspora. i don’t even think africans even understand the impact the forced diaspora has had on them.

  • Socially Maldjusted

    Is there ever anything written on this site that doesn’t have the intent to divide people of colour?

    For those who are DEFIANTELY black and PAN AFRICAN (identifying as part of the Global African Community) in their outlook -

    please don’t be so easily baited.

    This is merely the confused opinion of one person, according to whom -

    “In less than a hundred years, White Africans are a legitimate part of the continent. So, if such a huge change has occurred in that short span of time, how could African Americans–who are separated by hundreds of years of differences–think they will just immediately mesh into one of Africa’s many cultures? It is almost impossible.”

    Uh?

    Is it me or does this not make sense?

    So if whites can be accepted as African (btw – not my experience in Africa) in less than a hundred a years then why can’t people who are black be accepted in Black Africa in even less time?

    The differences between continental Africans and whites is far greater than the so called “hundreds of years of differences” between continental Africans and diasporan Africans.

    Explain “the difference” between, APARTHIED in South Africa and Jim Crow in America – that makes African Americans so different to South Africans.

    Then explain how whites enslavement of Diasporan Africans is SOOOO different to whites colonial practices against conintnental Africans.

    LONG KISS TEET.

    But this writer would have us believe that continental Africans have more in common with white imperialists than they have with blacks who are also victims of white oppression, who are in fact also related to them by blood.

    Where do they get these loons from?

  • mahogany

    @ Che

    You are free to come and go as you please, no “African” is restricting you. For someone who claims to be open minded your comments come across as narrow minded and misguided.

  • Socially Maldjusted

    If you’re black, you’re African and the continent of Africa belongs to you – not whitey.

    Travel to Africa respectfully and humbly, embrace the LOCAL CULTURE. You WILL feel that sense of belonging – beleeeve.

    No – it aint gonna be no hollywood-ized, Roots style moment of triumphant re-connection, experienced in slow mo – with everyone in the Village (assuming you even bother to go to a Villlage) happily gathered around to celebrate the return of the Lost One.

    Hey – people got money to make, they aint got time to indulge your Alex Haley fantasies.

    LMAO!

    No – just go buy your ivory bangles (preferably fake ivory) and African Carvings and shut the hell up. If you’re comin all high and mighty whitey –

    don’t come.

    Make connections with progressive blacks where ever you go in the world.

  • LemonNLime

    Do you have a passport, ie citizenship, to one of the 56 countries that make up the continent of Africa?

    Yes? Then you are African.

    No? Then, you aren’t.

    Problem solved.

  • CHE

    @Mahogany

    I did not claim to be anything- I stated my postion and I also responded to the author of the article and some of the commenters.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    i was not opposed to Af americans going. Perhaps that was not clear from what i said. Just the semantics or the wording that is used when people go. No person of Hispanic descent says “I am taking it all the way back to Spain!” I am just opposed to the idea of thinking of Africans as just bush people who have not modernized that is all. I just get tired of the images I see on TV and the sad depictions blah blah blah. I am calling attention to the weirdness of the wording. There is more than lions and tigers. Visit Africa as much as you please; fill your passport with visas when you go. (if you stop in nigeria be sure to visit the open market places, I love those more than the Galleria. Just be prepared to negociate for the prices). Ghana is another wonderful place to visit- you may not want to leave if you go!

    And educated Black people know their history but when I grew up I did not live in the best neighorhoods. Not every Af. American knows their history beyond their neighborhood. All I am saying is Af americans have an extremely rich history that extends beyond the sadness of slavery and the tradition of MLK Jr. From garvey, to hughes, to morrison, to malcolm, cj walker. That is a history that they can be proud of.

  • Caribbean

    Um, you do realize that Caribbeans and Africans usually share the same sentiments about Afric -eh, excuse me – BLACK Americans, right? The two share a lot more in common culturewise than with Black Americans. In fact, in college the African American students usually only mixed with other A.Americans whereas the Africans and Caribbeans ALWAYS hung out together.

    To most Caribbeans, Black Americans are nothing but “Yankees”. A perfect example of the culture difference would be the Virgin Islands season of College Hill on BET. (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. ) So, sorry to break it to you but including Caribbeans in your Black American beef with Africans is incorrect.

  • Yb

    @Carribean I suggest you take yourself to France and the UK, THEN talk about solidarity between carribeans and Africans. That unity crap you believe in between Africans and west Indians will be shattered in front of your very eyes.

  • Caribbean

    My comment is directed @ Che

  • Caribbean

    Yes which is why I referred to Black AMERICANS. Not brits

  • odemata

    @ Caribbean That indifference is because West Indians and well as Continental Africans see themselves as immigrants, or refer to their place of origin as a sort of ethnic classification. For example, Trini’s don’t mix with Jamaicans. This is a result of the ignorant teaching in their respective countries that fail tremendously to highlight the commonality of all those Africans living in the diaspora of caribbean and within America. This was what the Pan-Africanist moment was trying to do, bridge and educate on how we are alike. Do your research in stead of watching minstrel shows before you speak about how different we are, for then you would see how many cultural practices that were and are present within Africa today, still thrives in various forms, in the “islands” as well within Black American communities. Look up the named Stokely Carmichael from Trinidad and read on what and how he related to the plight of all Black peoples.

  • mahogany

    @ Che

    And I respect your opinion. We can agree to disagree, but you make it seem like all “Africans” thinks/feel the same way about AA, which is not true. I can’t be living on American soil and yet bash all AA. We differ in culture yes, but at the end of the day we are all black.

  • J

    On a continent where there is a clear hierarchy of who matters and who is better (think North Africa snubbing its knows at all of the “darkies” down below), in African countries where different ethnic groups have and continue to try wipe each other off the face of the earth, is it any surprise that the long arm of European colonialism has extended the disdain African have for each other across the Atlantic to Black Americans?

    Also, I just want to point out the lazy irony of this article, and of this thought process more generally. The author, undoubtedly, lives in America, is posting on a blog devoted to Black American culture, and is reaping the benefits of the blood, sweat, and tears shed by my ancestors.

    The corrolary of you telling me not to go “back to Afirca” is for you to keep your ass in Africa (excuse my French and no offense, really). Perhaps I should write a blog post about all of the immigrants from the African diaspora who come to America with this enhanced sense of self achievement and idea that they are responsibile for their accomplishments and successes , not realizing that they are benefiting from policies and opportunities that somebody — Black Americans — paid for with their life.

    The same divisions and psychological shackles that made my ancestors’s lives worth an exchange of rum, spices, and guns centuries ago are still very much alive, I see.

  • http://cupofjo-jo.blogspot.com bk chick

    I think the whole angry reaction to Demetria’s article is the fact the she even thought she would fit in in the first place. I get that, but it was a little unfair because she learned from her experience. As someone who is first generation and still has some connection to my parent’s country, the whole “fitting in” expectation is just an extension of the stereotype that Americans are ignorant of other cultures, no matter what the context. I mean, if you travel b/w states, towns and boroughs, there are many differences between the people on such a micro level. I think on one level this article highlights is the “otherness” of Black Americans in their own country, which is valid but is largely perpetuated by white supremacy. But I think the whole fitting in when going to Africa concept is interesting because it forces people to define themselves outside of a purely racial context. You are left to see that culture is defined by many other things than just race and its good because it opens your eyes and mind to new experiences.

  • smm

    @Socially: Excellent comment and I agree with all your points.

    I too read this: “In less than a hundred years, White Africans are a legitimate part of the continent. So, if such a huge change has occurred in that short span of time, how could African Americans–who are separated by hundreds of years of differences–think they will just immediately mesh into one of Africa’s many cultures? It is almost impossible.” and thought this goobley-gook, is really a fine example of the confused internalized racism, nonsense rambling that masquerades as intellectual thinking.

  • CHE

    Exactly J.

  • Yb

    Thank you.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Unfortunately, a white African would be seen as more authenticly “African” than an Black American in many instances,

    Shiko, let’s keep it real! By who?! Puhhhhhhhhleaze!!!!!!! We do NOT even mix per say, and then you are going to go ahead and talk about authenticity. Give me an African American any time! By the way, when AA’s are in the motherland, I don’t even notice them. They blend in (the ones I’ve met) What will make me do an about turn is the accent.

    White Africans are a special group, whom I don’t care for. It is what it is!

    African Americans you are welcome to your ancestral land. Belle’s article was just straight up snotty!—->shoot me.

  • Muse

    @Odemata and @Che- Perhaps you should direct you’re comments at Che. Although a bit abrasive, I don’t think Caribbean’s comments are too far off. Che’s comments are very dismissive, insulting and insensitive and invokes that type of response.

    I’m Sierra Leonean of Krio decent. And to those of you who don’t know, Krios are the decendents of freed slaves who went back to Africa and settled in Freetown, Sierra Leone. I have tried NUMEROUS times to explain to African Americans how much we are alike. From the food(collard greens is really just a plassas dish without palm oil for example), to the music, to the speech(Gullah)! It doesn’t matter how much sense I make. For the most part, they’re never really receptive.

    Even as an undergrad, a majority (not all!) of African American students were not to open African culture. So I’ve accepted that most, like Che, will pretty much ALWAYS make ignorant comments like ” If Africa is so great, why are you in America?” To that I say, well if America is so great, why are you trying to go back to Africa?

  • http://www.angstandhumor.blogspot.com Shiks

    Why is it hard to believe that other people who don’t live in America,read American magazines and post online? You haven’t cornered the internet. We have it in Africa too.

  • Dalili

    Hola Sister Friend!

    Where’s your other avatar?!

  • Tonton Michel

    The whole tone of this article is off putting. The writer sounds completely bias against African Americans. A white born African is more culturally accepted despite their collective effort to separate themselves from black Africans socially and economically and there is some thing unacceptable about black Americans just trying to reconnect and find their roots, a trait that every people that have migrated willingly or by force does? Its OK to visit, and spend some money no doubt, but please leave cause your really not welcomed? The author doesn’t have a clue.

  • Yb

    @Muse

    It’s funny how you think your use of the word “most” and “majority” means your generalising is factual and not a biased opinion.

    Che’s question “if Africa is so great then why are you in America” is not one that stems from ignorance. It is a response to many Africans who speak lesser of African Americans while at the same time benefitting from our hardwork in this country, like you.

    You accuse AA’s of not being open for discussion with you when you do the same to us when we try to explain our position to other commentators.

  • odemata

    @ Muse The thing is this. We have within every group a problem of cultural ignorance. All are result of circumstances that stem from racism and what we have here within your’s and other folks experiences is a result of that. Just because slaver, so called ended, so did the effects of it. Its because of conversations such as this we should work more arduously to see how much we are alike as opposed to focusing on those ignorance fellows who leave such a impact on us. One thing I would say, before those from the Islands and continent comment on the reception from Black Americans, they should delve in history and find their answers instead of looking at things for face value. We are all victims.

  • CHE

    @Caribbean

    I speak as a Black American and a Caribbean, specifically Jamaican and I am commenting on my experiences interacting with Africans as both….I went to college with Africans and Caribbeans and Africans stuck with Africans and Caribbeans with Caribbeans but your experience might be different.I do know though that Africans and Caribbeans, having experience with both groups, try to hold themselves back or above Black Americans(LOL) while living in America and benefitting from the fight for their rights that Black Americans fought and died for.

  • steve

    smh, well this topic gets attention. It breaks the heart of so many socalled African-americans , that they are American First and of african decent second outside of America but its the truth

  • HowApropos

    I agree 100%, J…

  • HowApropos

    Um, that’s my issue concerning this topic…try again…

    Just shut up about Black Americans. We are well aware of how many of them feel about us.

  • CHE

    @Muse

    Again I was responding to the TONE of the post and the TONE of the African commenters. I have been to Senegal West Africa-out of curiosity and well-for college credits and I CAME BACK TO AMERICA! I wasnt looking for a home, acceptance, approval, family, permission, nor culture- I have that here in America. Some Black Americans despite seeing the media depictions of Africa and Africans go and see for themselves and keep an open mind. What closes it (sometimes) for some is meeting SOME Africans who think they are above you(LOL)for whatever nonsense reasons and have the nerve to do this while living in America and benefitting from the fight Black Americans waged for their rights.

  • Beautiful Mic

    African-Americans’ direct genetic and historical links to Africa are tangeable links.

  • Beautiful Mic

    There are plenty AAs well assimilated and interbred into African identity and culture, and vice-versa.

  • CHE

    @Caribbean

    Please, no snark, but what cultural practices do West Indians share with Africans that make them so alike and makes West Indians so different from Black Americans?

  • LemonNLime

    Agreed! I am an American NOT an African American. Yes the majority of my family was brought here against their will but my roots have been firmly planted in this country longer than many of the white, Hispanic, and Asians that make it up. This country is my birthright and no one is going to try and lessen that by sticking “African” in front of “American” just because I have brown skin. The language, history, and culture that I identify with is American and especially after having traveled, culture, for me, trumps color no matter how crappy race relations may be in this country. If I want to reconnect with my roots, I’ll go to Georgia.

  • omfg

    co-sign.

    talk about a slave mentality. lol.

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    Hey girl!

    I changed it. lol!

    The Maasai was HELLA foiiiiiiiiine doe!

  • http://afrikanmami.blogspot.com African Mami

    oi….reading magazines—–>set up for wig snatching!!! stop it…..

  • Chrissy

    It is a response to many Africans who speak lesser of African Americans while at the same time benefitting from our hardwork in this country, like you.

    Yea. This is something I never understood.

    A lot of these Africans and Caribbeans(them too) come to blogs like this and bash African Americans while they are benefiting from the work our ancestors put in this country for us to be here. Now they want to pretend that they are above African Americans…but without African Americans they most likely wouldn’t even be in America.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    hmph!

    I think people should stop claiming the credit for “liberating america” for Black Africans. Very few of the people on this site are the kinds of people who would have been actively involved in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements in america.

    On the contrary, many of the people here are as virulently anti-black as you’d find on any white supremacist website and would have actively opposed those movements.

    Also. I’m guessing that most people who emmigrate to america, are NOT emmigrating to black america – which is as “third world” as many parts of Africa.

    People to go to america after america has visited itself on them, looted their countries, destroyed their local production systems and economies, and left them no option but to travel abroad to find a way to survive.

    america owes as big a debt to Africans as it does African Americans.

    Get your facts right.

  • J

    The Europeans were/are truly masterminds. They have succeeded in making a fool of Africans Instilling in you such a strong sense of self-hate that you’re no longer content to kill off your own brothers; the salt now must be thrown across the Atlantic to people who have no interest in Africa beyond the occasional vacation, Blacks.

    As for what America owes Africans — the same thing that the people who occupied your countries for centuries, raped your women, and pillaged your resources feel like they owe Africans: not a damn thing!

    As to your assumptions about who reads and posts on this blog, they’re not even worthy of an intelligent response.

  • binks

    I get what the article is saying but it came off as… really condescending to me. I am sure the author didn’t mean for it to come across that way but it did. Or maybe I’ am tired of people telling black Americans who they are, who they aren’t, what we are a part of or what we aren’t, what we can rightfully claim or what we can’t, who we can be and who we can’t be… I’ am just over it! Maybe it is just me but I never romanticize Africa as my long lost homeland, sure like most people I would like to know about my entire heritage but still, I very much know who I’ am so I don’t feel like a child of two worlds. I’ am very much American and proud of it through the good, bad, and downright ugly. Nobody can’t or won’t strip me of my heritage here that my family and many others fought, die and wept for. I would love to travel across the many countries of Africa but I’ am not expecting more than that but if I get more than what I expected I would graciously accept it with open arms…shrugs

  • YeahRight2011

    @Lemon

    Caribbeans, depending on the country, can talk a bit. They were our partners in crime BUT I also know that if there had been a distinction made between native and immigrant in their favor, they wouldn’t have helped. Most groups are like anyway, no matter the race or ethnic group.

  • Pseudonym

    [right hand up]

    I second this motion.

  • Mwendwa

    I am Tanzanian and I am really surpised by the sentiments of this author. Like really, How does a tree grow without roots?, How can a fruit deny its roots? or How can the roots deny the fruit?
    Africa is the root y’all!!!
    United we stand divided we gonna fall!

  • mary mary

    To all the above commenters…

    I hesitate to join in this conversation, because it just divides us unnecessarily and I think this topic is pretty played out. But to just glibly stereotype a segment of immigrants is not the answer. Are you aware that African countries were fighting for de-colonization before the civil rights victories occurred in the US and that many civil rights leaders like Maya Angelou, MLK and Malcolm X visited countries like Ghana and felt support and strength to continue the fight in the US? The advancements made by black Americans in this country are things all black people in America should be grateful for, but let’s not act like things occur in a vacuum. You can have an issue with the sentiments and tone of the writer of this article, but by writing off all immigrants you are being just as bad as what you are criticizing her for.

    Furthermore, should we not learn from the unity of our forebears and continue to work together to gain strength from one another and continue to fight for equity for all black people in our respective countries? I think this whole convo is ridic and would make Malcolm X roll in his grave.

  • Socially Maladjusted

    yawn.

    Ya boring.

    Europe was the most violent continent on earth for over 1000 years, continuing up to 20th century in the First & Second “World War”, the Cold War and in the post Cold War, war in Former Yugloslavia.

    That was all whitey on whitey violence.

    Having exported your violence to what you call the americas, wiping out 100s of Native Tribes, your thirst for violence, unabated, brought you into to direct conflict with your European progenitors over ownership of land that IS NOT YOURS. You call it the american war of independence – I call it whitey killin whitey over shit that aint his.

    B itch ass.

    Having settled that one, the next whitey killin whitey war was over which faction of savages was going to control the land you stole from the Native Tribes.

    The savages won and the savages lost. But the savages are still fighting each other (praises be) as recent face offs in the Balkans between american and russia forces show, as well as the current stand off over Syria. .

    You got your hands full – don’t worry about black people.

    The whitey on whitey killin could kick off at any moment – worry about that fool.

    Lame ass mofo
    ________________

    My assumptions about who reads my posts on this blog make me clairvoyantly, mind readingly, psychically, OMNISCIENTLY – OMNISCIENT.

  • TypicalBlackWoman…

    I second all of this. Also, I agree with James Andre that this article is an embarrassment. From my experience, I noticed that most white South Africans on my campus called themselves “Africans,” primarily for the exoticism (makes for interesting cocktail discussions) and to impress their white friends whom they PRIMARILY hung out with.

    Look at it this way, if you were switched at birth and then at the age of thirty you found out who your real family was, your reunion would be awkward too. Then include a power differential – your birth family was poor, trying to make it on their own, and in the interim, you were raised as a child of the president or more apropos, you were raised as the well-cared for servant of the presidential family – but well to do nonetheless. Yeah, trying to re-integrate yourself into the poorer birth family may be difficult. And they may say that, yeah, you belong to our family, but may not act like it. At the end of the day, they will see you as belonging to a different world, because, in reality, that was your reality, and not theirs. Now add to this the many layers of complexity brought upon by the trans-Atlantic slave, trade, time, and the power differentials between Africa and America.

    I think at the end of the day, we are all of African descent, however, we must understand that nurture trumps nature. If one does not easily recognize your culture or mannerisms, the default is to check off “Foreigner” in their mind’s eye. That’s not an African thing – that’s a human thing. However, for the more introspective, we are able to overcome that nurture and understand those trans-Atlantic bonds, in the comforts of our liberal arts college classrooms. But if you’re expecting your everyday-trying-to-simply-survive Erinma Njoku from Arondizogu or Joe Washington from Atlanta to take time out of their day and set out the red carpet or throw Coming To America flower petals at your Jimmy Choo’s – you are wasting your time. It’s not that either of them – the American nor the African, hate you – it’s just that people have to eat. The desire to reconnect, while respectable, still remains a first-world problem – a luxury, to both the market woman hustling tomatoes at Ariaria and the young black man in the American unemployment line, again.

  • TypicalBlackWoman…

    I am African, and I approve this message. Well at least the first part.
    All immigrants – African, European, Asian, Caribbean, etc all owe an incredible debt to black Americans.

    As for the last statement – I think going back to the argument that Africans from the continent are inherently bad because we traded guns and rum for slaves is an dangerously simplistic and divisive argument. I say this because it leads us away from blaming the major perpetrators (white colonialists) and leads to embarrassing encounters like that of Henry Louis Gates Jr. when he traveled to West Africa.*** I also say this out of self-preservation, seeing that I personally belong to an ethnic group in Nigeria that was constantly raided by larger kingdoms and have personally heard stories from my elders of siblings that went missing generations ago as a result of these raids. The same way African Americans cringe a gross misrepresentations of the entire group, is the same way we feel too.

    ***There’s a documentary that Gates produced sometime ago in which he sought to trace back his family to West Africa. In the process, he was angry and felt slighted because the very people before him were descendants of those who sold his ancestors. The silly irony of this he could not clearly see that as a Harvard professor, he clearly was at an advantage compared to those he saw who lived on less than a dollar a day. Don’t understand why we can’t all agree that the Trans-Atlantic slavery period sucked for both Americans and Africans, rather than trying to find new ways to divide us.

  • TypicalBlackWoman…

    Cosign with African Mami.

  • AfroStyling

    Sorry but no White African is an authentic African. Unless your father or mother married a foreigner, you are nothing but the offspring/descendant of a slave trader/colonialist. I wish they could drive out those damn Afrikaans from SA. No full blooded white person will ever be an authentic african. God forbid!

  • AfroStyling

    @ Che…yeah sure…why dont you just try to go to Nigeria if you so please and watch yourself be sent back ant murtala muhammed airport. If you want to visit an african country, no one is stopping you. But dont make it into some big to do or act like Africans are stopping you. And you need to work out the obvious issues that you have with Africans before you even venture over there. We dont send anybody.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    Ouch!

    This comes across as mean spirited like the girl who says ” I like your new shoes… even if you got them out of the garbage can.

    I think the most important thing for your father’s friend is his happiness. Does he like or love living in Tanzania? If so, then that’s all that counts.

  • AfroStyling

    Look, stop all the whining. if you want to visit an african country then by all means do. But you will not be welcomed with a parade at the airport. You will not be given special treatment. You are a visitor at the end of the day even though your skin is black. If you like it, then by all means, go through the right channels and build a life for yourself there. No one is stopping you. You are no better than Africans. You can continue yapping about how you might excel better than africans blah blah blah, that na your own palaver. Just do what the hell you want to do without all the whining please. But dont expect us to accept you because you also happen to be black! That is some childish simplistic thinking. You think i make friends with all the Nigerians i meet? Da hell? And i can not stress this enough. NO WHITE PERSON WILL EVER BE CONSIDERED AN AUTHENTIC AFRICAN!!!!

  • TJ

    I agree with the commentary who said that there are many African Americans who are very well integrated into many African cultures. You’d be surprised.

  • CHE

    @Afrostyling

    I have been to Africa and I came back! I havent made it to Nigeria yet but Senegal was a beautiful country with beautiful people. I dont have a problem with Africans if they are cool and not talking their nonsense and dont have an inflated sense of themselves with no basis in reality and no nasty attitudes as if they are above Black Americans. I am Black and therefore feel I can relate to any Black person no matter where they come from…I keep an open mind and heart-after all some of my friends are African and I have gone out with Africans in the past (LOL) but some of you can miss me and keep it moving with the attitudes you display towards Black Americans.

  • http://www.chicnoirhouse.blogspot.com Chic Noir

    ^^^This!

    I don’t think the Chinese in China roll open the red carpet when my 1st or 2nd generation Chinese-American friends go China.

    I hear White American complaining about how the French aren’t so nice.

    I think part of the misunderstanding comes about because many Black Americans don’t understand how important “Tribe” is in some parts of Africa. Sure, you’re the same race but now tribe becomes more important. Some Black Americans think that all Africans can communicate with one another or that Africa is a country not a continent.

    + people have their lives to lead. A lower class African woman feeding her family on 2 bucks a day does not have time to entertain you and make you feel at home.

  • Keke

    I’m a B.l.a.c.k. American-blood linked to all cultures….kindly- or not meaning willingly or not….. i don’t and never have referred to myself as African American….African is just one of the many bloodlines running through my veins…..its a fact that most African Americans have more Anglo in them then most think…more Anglo and less Indian in the south every blk person thinks they have Indian in them not always true…i’ve done my research and know that I am a true definition of what American was a Melting pot….Africa, Trinidad, America, East Indian and American Indian…thats all me without one there would not be the unique me that exists today…heck if ya really wanna know the truth my direct link to africa was lighter white then my white great grand mother and my am. indian grandmother ,but thats another story entirely…..I don’t feel offended by the artical because I know my ppl’s history’s all of them not JUST * the African because I’m compose of more then that….

  • Alexandra

    I felt that way about her article as well. Her hopes were too high (possibly due to excitement) and had the false assumption that she would blend it, was a bit offensive (imo). It definitely played into the American ignorance stereotype with those expectations. I don’t fault her all the way either.

    “going to Africa concept is interesting because it forces people to define themselves outside of a purely racial context”
    Well stated. One could experience this in Black communities outside of Africa as well. There’s lots of cultural division and race isn’t even an issue. It’s amazing how culture is disregarded at times. You got me to think of something…
    Thanks for sharing your comment :)

  • SA girl

    I think this issue is worldwide and affects other races besides blacks just as aggressively. I have to say that,yes, I have noticed that light skinned women are considered more beautiful by default but as a dark skinned woman,I have never been insulted, ignored, dismissed as less beautiful. I have never had issues garnering attention based on my appearance here in South Africa. In the US on the other hand, I had a totally different experience. The emphasis is much more potent and unhealthy. I believe Nigerians are equally as bad.

  • Nae

    Truth!

    I was born to a Ghanaian father and an African American mother and is still seen by some as a foreigner. BUT thats ok. I still love Ghana every time I go and I still love my home in the U.S. When I was younger, I was guilty of romanticizing everything about the continent of Africa, but I was young and I grew out of that.

    People, please keep your mind open and honest when or if ever you visit any African country, you wont wind up disappointed if you remove the preconceived notions from your mind and your trip will be quite pleasant if you do so…..

    Peace

  • Angel

    The author is a little misguided about this issue. There is an assumption that Africa is homogeneous when in reality, different ethnic groups with different values and culture exist even within the same country.
    As African Americans, we are the same as the difference between the Yorubas, the Hutus, the Masai, the Pygmies. We are another tribe added on to this list of those who have African roots. So we aren’t any different.
    We can also add to that list of African ethnic groups, Afro Latinos, Afro Caribbeans, Afro European…
    By the way, if one of us from the Diaspora move back to Africa, yes, maybe the first generation would be considered an outsider same way another African from an ethnic group within Africa might move to a place where another African group might be the majority.
    The difference is that like Europeans that moved to America in the early century, if an African American moves to Africa, assimilation will occur within the 2nd, 3rd generation.

  • mbm1ame

    Ok, I’ve been reading the articles posted and the comments, and just wow!! I am disappointed I was born and raised In Africa myself moved to the Uk when I was older I don’t know about other Africans but I am still passionate about the continent when you go back you do get treated a bit differently, but not at such a huge degree, because of extended families are still in in your home country and will always treat you the same. I don’t really understand what answer the Clara wants, like African Americans there are some Africans who admire black Americans for their history and their perserverance, and see them as their brothers and will welcome you with open arms, others who you’ll find on blogs who seem to think otherwise (they all have their reasons) maybe they had a bad experience in the states. My opinion a language can be learned, there are not that many differences between Black Africans and African Americans just the enviroment they grew up in most African societies if assimilate yourself well enough and make sure you don’t behave like a tourist you won’t be treating like one., like they say when in Rome do as the Romans do..

  • HELLO

    Yeah@afrostyling

    Those Black South Africans should have given those Afrikaans the same choice the Algerians gave to the French after their war of independence *the coffin or the suitcase*….Those Algerians were not trying to reconcile or tell any half truths- Please!

  • Mwendwa

    I totally agree with your viewpoint and I think the author was really short sighted and biased in not considering the effect that time has on adjusting to a certain culture.
    Yes, 500 years have made a difference but as you said the more generations that are raised there the more they will become a part of that culture in terms of language, traditions, food and the like.

  • Atheist & Proud

    Lol. Seriously though. I’m sorry to hear you had such a bad interaction with some Continental Africans but honestly I don’t believe that generally we hate you just because you’re American Black. If anything, I truly believe that AA’s are admired here.There are bad people in every country, that’s just part of life.

    I, for one, have had both GOOD and not so wonderful experiences with Blacks of all continents.It usualy comes from ignorance or exposure to misrepresentation of the ‘Other’.So let us not perpetuate this self-hate.

    You can come and visit Africa when and if you want to. Don’t worry about some of the negative interractions you had.If you only speak English, I’d start with countries like Ghana, Nigeria,etc. If speak French you can check out Senegal, Cameroon, etc.

  • Atheist & Proud

    I’m African and agree with you on that one.

  • Atheist & Proud

    Well said!

  • Atheist & Proud

    It’s tangible.

  • Zimbobella

    @che that attitude is yours is the one that many a sane African will not put up with. So Africans are ok to you until they start talking their nonsense….hmmm what nonsense is it that you speak of? Africa is a huge continent. Do not judge us by one country and certainly we do not speak nonsense. We speak our mind, a trait, you clearly have but is muddled up in your issues. Get them sorted out. It really puzzles me why someone with a functioning brain would think some Africans would be waiting with some rose petals (cue coming to America) and a key to allow black Americans into the continent. Ludicrous! Our countries work just like your countries. You come of as having the ‘I am better than you’ mentality. Not flying since 1855

  • Kebbo

    I think our unrealistic expectations/wants of each other is getting in the way of understanding each other. Nothing new..it’s a human thing(I’m sure there’s a lot of disappointed Christians in heaven).

    It’s very rare to meet people who accept different cultures for what it is: Enjoy the best, side step the bull and keep walking. I’ve heard the same thing from Indian,European, Hispanic, Korean, Chinese -Americans(Them:”I look like them so why don’t they embrace, get me or follow my prepared script”). On the other side the coin, foreigners say the same shit. Why not step outside the box and meet the other halfway, if not then “oh well!”.

    ……
    Keep high aspirations, moderate expectations, and small needs.
    William Howard Stein

  • Amos Wilson

    Welp. Its pretty obvious that in the Black or more accuractley termed Afrikan Family, there is deep and apparent potential for betrayal, deceit, self hate and downright devilishness. We are ONE people. Anyone who says other wise is A-HISTORICAL, CRAZY, ignorant and foolish. I honestly believe, anyone who works to divide us is evil in their spirit. Any Afrikan or Black person who seeks divide or says anything that causes division amongst Afrikans is white, in culture, white in spirit, white in their aspirations and worldview and NIGGER in their heart. Afrikan Americans are Afrikans, living in America. I would argue that there are more Afrikans in the diaspora that really understand what it means to be an Afrikan than Afrikans on the continent.

    Please, before you open your mouth talking shit and trying to cause division and say some dumb shit about Afrikan Americans can not go back to the continent or don’t have any lineage or ties to the continent, study history. Did you know there were wars on the continent? Did you know how many of our ancestors fought Europeans and Arabs? Did you know how our ancestors truly fought each other in West Afrika? Did you know that Arabs were enslaving Black people since the 5th Century? Are you telling me all our ancestors who died in the Atlantic Ocean, or the Indian Ocean or oceans of sand in the Saharan desert or the oceans of sand in the Arabian Peninsula, have no ties to the continent because they were mutilated and beaten by someone who carried them away? Do Black women who have been marched acrossed deserts from the 5th Century and put in harems to be raped and worked for their whole lives, have no claim to the continent because an Arab dragged her to Yemen? How about the Black women who were raped in Angola in the 14 and 15th century? Do they have no claim to the continent because Portugese priests raped them and they became pregnant?

    This is what culture is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3fJBRJrdc

    And now you know, you don’t have a culture! There is no Afrikan culture anywhere? Your not solving problems and meeting needs! Your not progressing! You don’t hold any traditional or current values that are positive, you don’t even care enough about your children to teach them the truth. Your content with that spirit that is possessing you and you would have all Black people die, in the name of serving your master. If you had a culture you would either be dead or all Black people would be living well. All the Black people with culture died a long time ago, now there are just Niggers and small spots of grounded and sound people with the seed for our future.

  • anonymous

    I agree with what was said within the article, its true. I still don’t feel that the author had the right to address the issues being that you would never understand the concept of returning to Africa or what its like as an african american or black american for a better term..Of course being accepted would be nice, no one’s looking for a welcome party and red carpet honestly we (well speaking for myself) could care less if you want to accept us or not, I and many Black Americans have experienced that time and time again. If i feel a connection with a place who are you to tell me i’m not going to be accepted, that I’m an outcast? The reason for the concept of returning to the homeland is the connection with the land, our ancestors. I respect that we aren’t the same as far as culture that’s what makes this world so wonderful but what does connect is the fact that we are human and the wanting to understand where everything for your blood line began and for many black americans its Africa.

  • anonymous

    ^^^^^truth

  • BlackAmerican

    “You were torn away from what you knew to help grow a foreign economy and were never compensated for your labor. ”
    Torn away? Try sold away which is why I have no romantic ideas of or sympathy for the plight of Africa.

  • Mwendwa

    I agree with you as an East African…just ignore the negativities. There are a number of African Americans who have settled in my country of origin who are having a great time. Although, most slaves were taken from West Africa, I think y’all should be welcome on any part of the continent. And if they don’t I will welcome y’all ;)
    Long live the Pan-African Movement!

  • malkia

    Uhm, Clara, as an African (black)…I will NEVER consider a white person an African. Nope. Never going to happen. They are not African. They shuddered not too long ago being called African and now we are supposed to bestow it to them? Nope. They are conquerors who stayed, that’s all. This is that mess Kola Boof always going on about. Black people are too quick to give away our identity to people who don’t deserve it. I am an immigrant in their country while they are expatriates in mine. No, they are NOT African.

    As for this article, you are a Kenyan as am I, but I don’t agree with you. I know a Black American who moved here and guess what, he has assimilated (married a local woman and all) so i think you are wrong. Many have assimilated. Look at Ghana. A black person from Jamaica can move to any country in Africa (we have one in Kenya now who is a radio DJ) and you know what we have never treated him any differently. So your assertion is false.

    Africa belongs to Black people, wherever they are. Period. As long as you are black, you are African.

  • arlette

    @CHE
    what i fail to understand with your comments is why you are even intereseted in africa at all? if you dislike africans dont go to africa, simple. if you want to generalise all africans i dont see why they shouldnt do the same with you. do you think italian americans are welcomed with open arms when visiting italy? chinese americans?

    @chic noir

    “I think part of the misunderstanding comes about because many Black Americans don’t understand how important “Tribe” is in some parts of Africa. Sure, you’re the same race but now tribe becomes more important. Some Black Americans think that all Africans can communicate with one another or that Africa is a country not a continent.
    + people have their lives to lead. A lower class African woman feeding her family on 2 bucks a day does not have time to entertain you and make you feel at home.”

    i could not agree more. i am a rwandese and if i wanted tp marry a nigerian man my parents would not be happy at all. if i wanted to marry a tutusi my parents would probably dissown me, not all africans get along.

  • CHE

    I never said I disliked Africans. If you read my comments I was responding to the article and some of the commenters. I am Black….How do I hate Africans without hating myself. I visited Senegal…. and when I got off the plane I was happy to be there but neither I nor the other Black Americans expected the Senegalese to stop their lives and feast and dance because we were there. I think Black Americans are a little smarter than that. The Senegalese were warm and friendly people and very attractive and the country was beautiful.

    My comments were about SOME africans who have attitudes and TRY to look down on Black Americans for whatever nonsense reasons. The commenters who respond seem very defensive even after reading my comments so that tells me that you all know exactly what I am talking about. Dont play dumb.

  • CHE

    Mr.Amos Wilson. Hello. I knew you would be back.
    Everything you said.Thanks

  • Tamani

    #amazing. Nail on the head as usual.

  • Seven

    exactly. i totally agree.

  • ebony

    The way i see it, at the end of the day it all depends on your personal attitude. If you inherently feel you are who you are, nothing anyone says will make you feel different. Stop looking for belonging. Just be. Stop trying to fit in. If we could all accept who we are and didn’t try to be something else all this anxiety would be avoided.

  • L

    Weeeeelll, what about the A-rabs, who have enslaved Africans since the 5th century and still are doing it today in Mauritania and I assume other places on the continent. If you Africans are going after the Afrikaans, when are you all going after these A-rabs and reclaim your stolen lands,i.e the so called Middle East and all those oil wells and billions of dollars. Those camel and goat f******s are getting fat, literally,on stolen land and wealth. When are you all going for them….wouldnt it solve alot of your problems

  • L

    @socially

    Obviously you dont know what you are talking about…..There are many well off Black communities…middle, upper and rich. There are also poor Black communities, just like everywhere else and yes all of these communities- Africans are showing up in them….some with attitudes, some not. Dont believe everything you see on tv.

  • Blak Diamon

    By way of the west indes, my parents immigrated to america. my mother is fair skinned from haiti and my father is dark skinned from curacao. there is most likely the blood of whites, middle easterners, latinos, and east asians, as well as africans floating around, but phenotypically, my skin is brown and my hair is kinky like the ethiopians, egyptians, jesus christ, cleopatra, angela davis, malcolm x, the list goes on. i’m an african that happened to be born in america, and as such, i approach things with a particular variant of an american mentality. we are all black, therefore we are all african. instead of bitching at each other about who says/ does what and how, we need to bitch at each other about how we can work together to build and who is going to build schools, and hospitals, and infrastructure to provide our children with a place to be and to learn about how long our ancestors and hopefully our generation all struggled for them to be where they are

  • Agbeke

    Wow. I’ve never read such a ridiculous article that made so many assumptions on the part of everyone, African Americans and Africans alike. We should be promoting unity and cohesiveness, not trying to tell others where they will and won’t be accepted. Africa is part of African American heritage. Of course there’s a huge cultural difference. But how will either side recognize their mutual ignorances if they keep apart? If I was African American (and rich) I wouldn’t hesitate to explore each country and settle down wherever. The only people that won’t accept you are the closed minded people you’re better off without. People have bigger things to worry about than whether or not the new African American should be run out of town. As long as you go with a respectful heart and a willingness to learn, there most likely won’t be a problem.

    In Nigeria my mother went to school with people from all over the world. Indians and Chinese businessmen and women are setting up companies and making money in Lagos and other cities. There’s no reason why African Americans can’t do the same or should be scared away.

    Both sides have ancestors that have experienced hardships, either as slaves in the New World or living under colonization in the Old. Obviously that’s not going to come up in conversation but this shared past is reason alone to welcome any kind of interaction and communication between African Americans and Africans. Encourage solidarity and not this “stay on your own turf” attitude so that one day our communities too will flourish.

  • african to the core

    my dear its not that serious so slow ur role, the writer is simply stating that majority of african americans have that impression of motherland and that when they arrive they should be embraced, but they shouldnt have that impression, africa is like any other continent of nigeria like any other country, your not going to get the welcome wagon, no one is obligated to say welcome home but if acknowledged i guarantee the first cabby if he or she knows your american and visiting will say welcome home, but thats where it ends. so pretty much get that idea of oooo i will be embraced at the sirport or in the country etc these africans are peple living their day to day lives you think they have time to think of embracing etc get over you r damn sleves african americans, its called release your selves from mental slavery and yes go home but embrace the motherland. the people cannot embrace who they do not know, and besides if you didnt go do find your ancestory on acestory.com and communicate to some african nation where your ancestors came from….ur just a tourist visiting. period

  • african to the core

    african enough smh lmbo i say if you are born in brooklyn ny, and raised here, you are american period. if you were born in nigeria and raised here then you are american with african backgroung hence you were born there and thats that. so kindly stop confusing yourselves because african americans saying i wasnt african enough when i went to africa are quite daft. i didnt come to america being a nigerian and say i wasnt american enuff wtf? release yourselves from mental slavery and ignorance. you are who you are, there is no welcome wagon or party waiting for an african american when you land in africa. go to africa and embrace the culture, people and heritage. life goes on

  • Kimi

    Personally I say that those who have brown skin cannot deny that they have African ancestors which includes Indians, Asians, Native Americans, Spanish/Caribbean etc. Even Caucasians have African ancestors no matter how light their skin is which many will deny but if you look closely at their phenotypes you can see it!

    Despite this obvious known fact, we identify ourselves by culture,religion, status, etc. When I have to classify myself on documents I put “Other” because I also believe their is no such thing as race. For “race”, the human race means everyone on this planet.

    I have a mixed background and know about all three (Caribbean, Native American, Irish). I was born in America therefore I say I am American especially since my grandfather was a Native American so technically I am an American. I disagree with the term Black/White Culture because that varies on the person and how they were raised and especially from where they raised. My Russian boyfriend even gets annoyed by those terms which made sense because even he would say to me not all “White” people are alike esp.culturally. And just as he doesn’t refer to himself as “White”, I do not refer to myself as “Black”.

    The point I’m trying to make: I have African friends but they do not call me “African” which makes sense to me because I haven’t a single clue about the many cultures that exist within Africa (Africa is a pretty big continent)! In fact, I prefer not to be labeled but I believe that where ever you are born and what culture(s) you follow is who you are. In the end, what we are is just human. Period.

    P.s. I’m not the typical woman either my hair is natural (since birth), I do not bleach my skin, where colored contacts or hide from the sun from fear of getting darker like my Indian acquaintances do.

    Live, love, laugh and learn.

  • aurora

    I agree w/the writer. As African-Americans – our history starts here* in the Americas. It was our ancestors’ history that began in Africa*. Abdul-Baha said that Black Americans have to ‘create’ our own culture, in the American/Caribbean world. If I were to attend a party that encouraged people to dress as our ‘forebears’ — I would not wear African clothes. Instead I would put on the white ‘tignon’ (head wrap) & white clothes of the Santerian religion. Because, although I am an African-American in the Bahai religion – my greatgrandfather was triracial (French, African, Native American). Therefore he was Creole. And that is an ‘African’ transplanted ‘American’ born reflection of our ‘unique’ African-American history/culture.

  • veshti

    American Blacks call themselves African Americans because they want to attach themselves to the continent that their ancestors came from; Calling yourself Black does not put you anywhere it just informs others of your color. Whites don’t mind others calling them white, but they always tell where their ancestors came from whether it is Ireland, Germany or Italy etc. they place themselves in that culture although many of them have never been to specific countries. If you have one black parent you are considered black I don’t care how much of Europe that the other parent represents; in this nation you are black whether you like that name or whether you want to identify with African American.

  • NYC

    @ Veshti: “it just informs others of your color?” I do not know anyone who literally has Black skin or White for that matter. And from what your implying Indians should start calling themselves Black or anyone with Brown skin for that matter!!! In America calling yourself Black does put you somewhere. What some ppl are trying to say is that maybe ppl should stop using color as a reference to describe someone when it has no real meaning. Ask yourself what does it mean to be Black and there is no real answer just as if you were to ask yourself what it means to be White. Any answers that do arise will soley be based on stereotypes. To be politically correct we are all shades of brown period. Lastly, I do know of some Europeans that are 3rd generation Americans who refuse to refer to themselves as White.

  • http://www.integrationjournal.blogspot.com Jennifer Okosun

    I feel the same about us bridging the gap and working together. I believe we should learn about our cultures as well as embrace each other. I think it would be a great opportunity for us to improve one anothers strengths and weaknesses to maximize our success as a whole.To start, I have created a blog, called the Integration Journal which is about the similarities and differences between Africans and African-Americans. You can view my blog at http://www.integrationjournal.blogspot.com.

    Thanks!

  • quaks

    There is something a lot of people on this forum are missing. Heritage is not claimed from where you were born or where you have spent the most part of your life. As far as I am concern and which is indeed a fact, there is no such thing as a White African. Can the so called white people identify themselves to any ethnic group in Africa. Yet African Americans are able to identify themselves through DNA to a particular ethnic group. I just want to use this opportunity and refer those who are christian on this forum to the bible. The Jewish people after spending so many years in Egypt and being enslaved for 400 years did not become Egyptians. They had Joseph who ruled Egypt and had children born in Egypt who never became Egyptians. The fact that some of them spoke the Egyptian language and practised their culture like Moses did not make them Egyptians. We should learn from these and see also God’s purpose for humankind when it comes to cultural heritage.Apart from this, today whenever and wherever you meet a Jewish person, he or she will be proud of their heritage and will tell you I am Jewish irrespective of the fact that he or she might be a citizen of a different country.

    I am a continental African and live in South African. Most of the white people only identify themselves with Africa to claim the advantages of the land. When it comes to culture, I will tell you they are very European and it is not uncommon to find them easily integrating with European visitors. Besides there is none who can claim an African language to be his mother tongue. The Afrikaans language spoken by most of them though usually claim to be an African language which I do not agree is a replica of Dutch. Does this ring any bell in our heads.

    Of course it has to. Heritage is something that lives in you. Even in Africa, because of European influence on some parts, you will find continental Africans who cannot speak an African language nor practice any of its culture. Then why should we judge our Africanness from the fact that I was born on a land not connected with Africa or refuse anybody from being African because he or she was not born in Africa. Kwame Khrumah once said we are Africans not because we are born in Africa but because Africa lives in us. So please let us wake up an embrace the spirit mama Africa has for us in order to claim our Africanness. It is not for anybody to tell us whether we are Africans or not. If the blood of the land flows in you irrespective of any admixture which might be not of your choice, then I will say it is your right to be called an African. This is a fact established and remains a fact. No matter the literature on this subject, no one can change that fact for it will last until the end of time as it is established. Even human wisdom that evolves over time and tries relate culture to dynamism as illustrated by the writer hereof will not overcome this. We are Africans and Viva Africa the Motherland.

  • sankofabelle

    The article and its subsequent comments took me through a range of emotions. I was disappointed by the author’s oversimplified view of “repatriation” or “re-connection”. I was actually hurt by some of the comments that said black Americans aren’t welcome. As I read though, more people began to weigh in and there was actually a decent balance of comments. I even laughed at a few. Point is, the communication is what matters most. No, we don’t need permission or acceptance but it wouldn’t hurt. No, we don’t have the family or language but there is still a tangible connection. Both Africa and America have suffered as a result of the slave trade. In many ways, neither group has rebounded sufficiently to and as a result, we are still struggling to heal ourselves and find a higher purpose than slavery, colonialism, lower class citizens or division. We can work together to make a better reality for all of us but it starts with a conversation not unlike this one.

  • sittinducks

    I agree with Ebony. You are who you feel yourself to be. It’s learned behavior. Certainly, as a child, I had no consciousness of Africa or being African when I was told to go back to Africa by some white person, White people dominate the planet, and whether or not Africans all over the world realize it, we share a much larger culture that has been imposed upon us,because we are physically who we are. And that is one of poverty and exploitation.and all that these entail. That alone should bond us together, even if DNA does not.

  • sittinducks

    I don’t think the majority of African-Americans think about it one way or another. Materialism is the order of the day,

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