Law School Discussion

African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America

Mr. Pink

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Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #40 on: March 01, 2006, 12:45:24 PM »
This has been said before, but you also have to look at the fact that Black Americans, and people from the Caribbean as well, have a unique place in history in that it is more than their skin color that ties them to Africa.  There is a definite genetic link there.  That can not be overlooked.

Therefore to some extenet there should be an expectation of sameness, but there is a missing link, in that many black Americans or those from the Caribbean do not know what specific place they are from in Africa.  That in itself is frustrating. 

negative...I dont know of any caribbeans that look to africa for their historical past.  Unlike African-Americans, Caribbeans have 'their' own country and that is where they start their roots.  African-Americans should be called just American (they've been here long enough).  You dont hear African-Jamaican or African-Haitian.  Caribbeans are mostly corcerned with the culture that they are born into.  --This might not be true for all people, but Im speaking from my general view of Caribbean culture.

Stencilasnusky

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #41 on: March 01, 2006, 12:47:07 PM »
Regarding this issue, my take is this---> If it weren't for the state of affairs in America, Africans and African Americans have absolutely NOTHING in common, other than the fact that African Americans were taken from Africa!!!

Have to get some work done, but I'll update pretty soon!

Hmmmmm..on the face of it I would have to disagree. Had we not had slavery and segregation but colonialism, you don't think African-Americans would attempt to identify with Africans somewhat. How about Jewish Americans who've never been to Israel but raised money, arms and political pressure in 1948 to secure a Jewish homeland. The absence of unpleasant history on one end of the equation does not eliminate self-identity.
The fact that Jewish Americans feel a connection to a place they've never been and people they've never seen isn't any reason for Africans to feel the same. I agree with Andromeda.

HUH???? How so?? Just cos they haven't been there doesn't mean there are no "ties" that bind...I would say the fact that African-Americans who are pretty much all black and of African descent would in my view require some forward attention/identification with the plight of their "brothers and sisters" on the continent(this would be ideal but just because its not the case doesn't make it correct--personally speaking). I mean Israel would never have lasted 5 yrs after 1948 had it not been for the constant vigil of Jews in other parts of the world, particularily the here in the US.

Mr. Pink

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Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #42 on: March 01, 2006, 12:48:52 PM »

Em..OP here (as you can tell). Yes, some parts are a bit too general but I wanted to keep it brief and not hog up all the space. I'd very much like others (in addition to commenting) share their experiences and views (without turning this into a WAR ZONE I might add).
On the assumption you laid out, I think its fair for African-Americans within reason, to have that assumption because of their unique experience in the history of the US. Africans also by and large had over 90% of their land colonized by Europeans and I don't believe the resulting effects were pleasant. I'd say both groups were pretty much systematically exploited and harassed and by virtue of the obvious (skin color), the process of cross-cultural assimilation should correlate. Sure there are some one off exceptions but by and large, segregation and its lasting effects are primarily felt by African Americans and Africans, I would hope,should be especially conscious of this as they would have suffered the same fate had there not been an African-American inspired civil rights movement. I'm not trying to make it look like symbolic identification, but I think the expectation is quite reasonable..even if sometimes it can be hard to keep up with. But I'd very much like to hear about your experiences/relationships if you have any.

Here's the thing: a Yoruba and an Ibo know what their differences are and do not expect those differences to be elided except under exceptional circumstances (the Eagles playing in the World Cup, for example). And yet, there is not the same kind of friction between Ibo and Youba as there is between African American and African: whereas in the former case the differences are known and sameness is not assumed, in the latter case sameness is very much assumed, even though the differences are in fact greater.

Africans in the US, I think, forget that African-Americans are fundamentally American; and African- Americans forget that Africans are, well, quite African after all. That is an important difference, and it does no good to speak of genetics and of the similarities between colonialism and slavery (they are very very different by the way) and thereby expecting that the two groups should view the world in the same way, or to view each  other as brothers or sisters. Cousins, it seems to me, is more like it.

As I say, there seems to me no reason to expect any more sameness between Africans and African-Americans than there is between Europeans and White Americans. A Frenchman would be amused at the suggestion that he had broad similarities with a Louisianian, and the reverse, I think, would also be true. It is also my sense that there exists the very same kind of tension between Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, at least in California.

My suggestion is that we drop the concept as color altogether as a marker for identity. Culture is a more reliable indicator of who is alike and who is not. Working backwards from similarities in coloring will lead us to a dead end. Working forwards from differences in culture looks more promising, at least to me.

Im really starting to enjoy your posts.   ;)

Stencilasnusky

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #43 on: March 01, 2006, 12:50:22 PM »
Regarding this issue, my take is this---> If it weren't for the state of affairs in America, Africans and African Americans have absolutely NOTHING in common, other than the fact that African Americans were taken from Africa!!!

I hope someone can refute this, because I think it is way off.

You are right Jay...I've responded and although I won't presuppose Andromeda's motives for making that comment, I can say that most of the Africans I know (including myself), completely disagree with the statement.

Mr. Pink

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Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #44 on: March 01, 2006, 12:51:46 PM »
Thanks redemption, I like the way you are looking at this but I think you may be going in a direction that I did not intend. I'm not saying your point isn't important, but I'm trying to limit the boundaries to Africans and African - American relationships in light of the big white elephant in the room..the lingering effects of slavery and segregation. Culture is important, but I think here in the US, skin color is a more direct and stronger ID than culture. I'd love a color blind take on our relationships and I don't want to be accused of stifling it by talking about race relations. But I'm just curious as to how it is that that the same color issue is still the basic line in proverbial sand that causes self selection and self identification. Culture seems to porous a trait to use..I can see it as valid in Africa since everyone is black and so there is no there there. But here, its the first hurdle on introduction and I'm not sure if Africans are dealing with it as appropriately as we should. Not saying the burden is on us but Africans alone, but its without question that any and all advantages enjoyed by Africans here can as a direct result of the labor of African Americans. See where I'm coming from/going to?

I do see where you're coming from, and I'm trying to be direct in addressing your question. I am saying that it is because Africans and African-Americans somehow believe that color should be a tie between them that the misunderstandings and mutual condescension arise in the first place. Ther is no way that I can see around addressing that assumption that both underlies your first post and that underlies African American / African relationships.

Maybe I'll sit on the sidelines a little bit and see where this thread goes.

Please don't, your insight are great...

redemption

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #45 on: March 01, 2006, 01:00:14 PM »
Please don't do that..I'm hoping for a good discussion here...please. I think BP's point about color AND experience is what I had in mind. We see color first and then we try to understand cultures and hopefully support one another for the greater good. Sounds great but anyways, I'm a hopeless progressive. Its not an easy thing to break down but I'm really looking for folks to comment on their observations and experiences...it won't turn into a WAR ZONE I promise hope

Swedes and Swedish-Americans are not the same, do not expect to be fundamentally alike, and therefore do not apporach each other with anything but the genuine expectation of difference.

African-Americans and Africans expect fundamental sameness. To my mind, that expectation is subconsciously playing "the white man's game".

When the glaring differences become quite apparent, and do so quite quickly, y'all get pissed off toward each other and each group condescends toward the other.

Question the category is all I'm saying: "black" is meaningful only to the extent that it means something in the context of the relationship to whites (and even then, only a relatively weak one). It should have no meaning or place within the assumptions that diverse "black" peoples have about each other. That's how friction is generated.

Color AND experience? Maybe, if color is the weak partner. My sense is, though, that people expect color to all the work, and it just aint so.

petitschoque

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #46 on: March 01, 2006, 01:04:52 PM »
HUH???? How so?? Just cos they haven't been there doesn't mean there are no "ties" that bind...I would say the fact that African-Americans who are pretty much all black and of African descent would in my view require some forward attention/identification with the plight of their "brothers and sisters" on the continent(this would be ideal but just because its not the case doesn't make it correct--personally speaking).
There is no argument I can make against this because this is your opinion. If you as an African feel that the genetic links black Americans share with you is cause enough for solidarity then that is your choice. Maybe more genetics, you feel that because we have all suffered at the white man's hands, we are then all alike. But my identity is based on more than just suffering and genetics, and I do not consider those meaningful links.

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #47 on: March 01, 2006, 01:05:38 PM »
Regarding this issue, my take is this---> If it weren't for the state of affairs in America, Africans and African Americans have absolutely NOTHING in common, other than the fact that African Americans were taken from Africa!!!

Have to get some work done, but I'll update pretty soon!

Hmmmmm..on the face of it I would have to disagree. Had we not had slavery and segregation but colonialism, you don't think African-Americans would attempt to identify with Africans somewhat. How about Jewish Americans who've never been to Israel but raised money, arms and political pressure in 1948 to secure a Jewish homeland. The absence of unpleasant history on one end of the equation does not eliminate self-identity.

You have answered your own question which is only reaffirming what I had said. Like you said in th ebolded statement, "had we not had slavery and segregation...". That right there is the defining factor in our relationship with African Americans. Since they were taken away as slaves, they have become a radically different set of people from Africans, the values that we hold dear are not the same that they hold dear. There is nothing linking the two groups if you ask me, except for the fact that we are all in the US fighting to get the same treatment for our skin color. That is the only uniting umbrella. If we didn't have to struggle for the same resources, we are two different sets of people.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we could never get along, but we can only get along as we try to learn from each other, and try to understand our different backgrounds, just like I'd try to understand the background of my Indian friend.

In essence they are being called African Americans, because of the fact that they were taken from Africa. Aside from that, they have absolutely NOTHING that ties them back to Africa in terms of culture, values, WOL, I could go on naming. If African Americans want to, I bet they can secure for themselves their own African homeland, it still doesn't change the fact that they would still need to learn what it takes to be African. I mean Liberians have tried it, if I remember correctly, Liberians are ancestors of slaves who were released back to Africa. They still have some things that make them different from the other African countries, even though we still share the same piece of land known as Africa.

redemption

Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #48 on: March 01, 2006, 01:07:41 PM »
I do see where you're coming from, and I'm trying to be direct in addressing your question. I am saying that it is because Africans and African-Americans somehow believe that color should be a tie between them that the misunderstandings and mutual condescension arise in the first place.
I totally agree with you, Redemption. It has been my experience that many African Americans expect me to see them as long lost siblings and be closer to them than I am to non-blacks. This is based on the expectation of black solidarity and is an egregious mistake because my worldview works in terms of Nigerian first, African second, then all other people in the world fall in strict order of how they treat me. Unfortunately, when I am reticent to embrace them and treat them as I would any other stranger, they become angry and then come the labels and insults which make me angry and cause a divide that can't be bridged (because I will hold a grudge if I feel I am unfairly attacked). If the unfounded expectations weren't there in the first place, then feelings/pride wouldn't be hurt and we could get to know each other as people and maybe even find some commonality after all.

Some Africans do feel an instant affinity to African Americans but it is not something that should be expected of all nor it is a prerequisite to being black.

I do feel an affinity for Caribbean people but that is because I have found them consistently kind and respectful of my perspective. I guess it helps that we actually do have a lot in common as I found when I went to Jamaica and kept lapsing into Yoruba because I just felt as if I was in Lagos. Their clothing, food, personalities, mentality are just so similar so I feel as if there really is a connection as opposed to just blackness and a shared experience of oppression (which I do not consider valid reasons for solidarity in and of themselves).

Just saw this. Yes - I have heard of this pattern and this frustration many times. It is ironic that it is a category - black - that has been created this sort of misunderstanding.

_BP_

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Re: African Americans and Africans in Majority-Minority America
« Reply #49 on: March 01, 2006, 01:08:27 PM »
This has been said before, but you also have to look at the fact that Black Americans, and people from the Caribbean as well, have a unique place in history in that it is more than their skin color that ties them to Africa.  There is a definite genetic link there.  That can not be overlooked.

Therefore to some extenet there should be an expectation of sameness, but there is a missing link, in that many black Americans or those from the Caribbean do not know what specific place they are from in Africa.  That in itself is frustrating. 


negative...I dont know of any caribbeans that look to africa for their historical past.  Unlike African-Americans, Caribbeans have 'their' own country and that is where they start their roots.  African-Americans should be called just American (they've been here long enough).  You dont hear African-Jamaican or African-Haitian.  Caribbeans are mostly corcerned with the culture that they are born into.  --This might not be true for all people, but Im speaking from my general view of Caribbean culture.

Whoahh,this is way off..Do you remember a little known figure called Marcus Garvey...haha, sorry for being an ass, but what about Bob Marley? Rastafarianism and the entire reggae movement was birthed out of a search for identity in Africa.  Marcus Garvey is a national hero in Jamaica.  There is such a huge Pan-African movement in the Caribbean, that countries have started chartering planes to Africa to do trade with African countries.  The Pan-African movements are so strong in the Caribbean that the groups wield real political power in their respective countries. I honestly know of few Caribbeans who do not look to Africa for their historical past.



Electric, are you from Ghana? Were you raised on Anansi stories as well?  Those were tight.