Ever since I wrote about Amy ‘Tiger Mom’ Chua’s new book The Triple Package, I’ve been feeling some type of way about the comments. While I expected readers to either agree or disagree with Chua’s premise that some cultures are just better and more successful than others, I didn’t anticipate the conversation would descend into a painful debate about Africans vs. African-Americans.

I am unabashedly pro-Black, and my pro-Blackness extends to the entire Diaspora. So when I see my people—from both sides of the Atlantic—hurling stereotypes, slurs, and jabs at each other like we ain’t even skinfolk, it makes me sad. And depressed. And downright disheartened.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to discuss the comments, our history as Black folks, and our shared pain (and triumph), but I just could not seem to find the words (nor did I want to read through pages of more divisive comments). Thankfully, friend and fellow writer Luvvie Ajayi did it for me.

After someone asked her to explain what the slur “akata” meant, Ajayi, who was born in Nigeria and immigrated to the U.S. when she was nine, schooled us all on the complicated relationship between Africans* and African-Americans—one tweet at a time.

Read Ajayi’s brilliant response below (and check out her blog):

Photo via Hayley Catt

*Note: We realize that Africa is not one country with a solitary culture or experience. However, the term ‘Africans’ is used in general to describe all people from the continent.

  • Delia

    Thank you for sharing that. Really and truly.

  • geenababe


    I understand it goes both ways. I didn’t watch that catch all after my experience .

  • GeekMommaRants

    Clutch, thank you very much for an excellent article and discussion. This is why Clutch is my favorite site!

  • A Word or Three

    This was a very helpful article in that it provided much needed context for the derision I often felt from Africans while attending Howard U. Even now as an adult, when I tell Caribbean-Americans or second generation African-Americans that I went to an HBCU, I hear condescension. One Nigerian friend also told me that while she was the “default” in Nigeria, many Nigerians (and Sierra Leonians) aspired to be like Western Europeans and looked down on Americans in general.

    Thank you for this; it will help to make me more patient.

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