Let me preface the next few paragraphs by saying that my intent is not to undermine the struggles of people of different races, culture, ethnicity, creed, sexuality, etc. for the sake of scholarly argument, neither will I deny that such struggles have, or may have left an indelible mark on those people who have been affected by elements of such struggles.
However, when people blindly champion causes on premises that lack substance and informed discourse it rubs me all wrong. Case in point, is it just me or does it irk anyone else (Nigerians/Africans in diaspora especially) when some African-Americans claim extreme “Africanness” and essentially carry imaginary torched flames in revolution against the “system.” A system defined as all white people, Africans in diaspora, and everyone at the top of the economic pyramid. They proclaim unwavering allegiance to “the black power,” and get snooty at any black person who cannot chant along to “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” or other African-Americans who do not consider themselves African by virtue of their geographic origin or upbringing. They precariously wave their flags against injustice by dropping names such as Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, and WEB Dubois in every racially/ethnically-charged argument, and take college classes on the Slave Era, The Emancipation Movement, and being Black in America.
The aforementioned patriarchs and social issues are without a doubt significant and worthy of note. And considering the tenets of African-American history, past events that shaped it, and the aftermath, collective emotional memory is one thing that I believe has kept that part of history unresolved. Societies involved in intractable conflict are usually dominated by a collective emotional orientation of fear, which corrupts their rationale and hinders peace processes and sometimes hampers progress for generations to come as we see today. Because of a sense of loss of heritage pervasive across African-Americans living in America and debate with Africans in diaspora about who should be who and why, we tend to not see eye to eye with one another on the topic of heritage. Am I alone in thinking that if an African American claims the African heritage, that they should in so doing be African and protract African values? Rather than latching to one side of the argument about ancestral slavery and similar arguments about being denied of one’s true “roots” why not take it all the way and be an example by claiming such roots in words and in deeds?
Armed with innumerable amounts of knowledge, I expect that every African-American championing this cause should know what it is to be African and live like it but I am yet to meet one who actually does. All Africans know that first and foremost, our Culture makes and frames us. Family, Education, Loyalty, Respect (not just for the elderly but for one another), Ambition, etc. are all traits that stem from our Culture and make us who we are as a people. To claim to be African without exhibiting any form of culture is simply unacceptable in my opinion and therein lies the fundamental problem.
Being African should not be a question of to be or not to be…but if it so happens that anyone wants to partake in the Pride of Africa and Africans, the least you could do without insulting the children of the soil is to be true to our heritage. Don’t be caught in the streets with your pants down, literally… that’s what belts are for. Please use proper grammar in writing as well as speaking. Please respect every person; it’s the human thing to do.
Finally, let us ALL together keep this country the Land of the Free truly by staying out of penitentiaries and the Home of the Brave by stepping out with courage and taking advantage of the many resources and opportunities available to all and sundry!
By Taiwo Adeoye
Image Source: http://egbailey.wordpress.com/page/2/