Why Black Americans Dislike Africans: A Response to Zara Chiron

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Let me preface this by stating that I DO NOT hate African people. I have many loved ones who identify as African. Although I can’t directly trace my lineage back to Africa due to the Atlantic Slave Trade, I am of African descent and it seems really stupid to me to hate African people, who are essentially the same race as me. More true for West Africans, we are closer than cousins. We are brothers.

This title was generated as a response to another article with a similar title of This is Why Africans Hate Black Americans, which I will link here. As I read this article, rebuttals started to form naturally in my head and I decided to make a response based on my experience. I wrote this with the goal of inspiring much-needed dialogue between Black Americans and Africans, in hopes of bringing about a bit more understanding between the two groups so that maybe we can get along better!

Well, let’s get right to it!

Keri Hilson and Serge Ibaka wear African Royalty garb.

Keri Hilson and Serge Ibaka wear African Royalty garb.

Once of my best friends told me a story about how she confronted the African Student Union at her school. She was at some type of forum put on by both the Black Student Union and the African Student Union and she went up to the mic and asked, “Why do you guys act so stuck-up? You walk around campus with this ‘I’m better than you’ attitude.”

I was shocked when she told me this. (But we’re both G’s like that.) Secretly, I thought I was just flat-out “in my feelings,” so I was glad to find out I wasn’t the only one who noticed some Africans’ air of superiority. She said that people were shocked in the audience, too.

In response, the ASU answered with, “Well, a lot of Africans don’t like how Black people don’t take advantage of their opportunities here in America.” Understandable.

Bestie retorted with, “Well, we’re in school getting an education and doing what we need to be doing. You need to take that up with the folks who aren’t doing anything with their lives,” and this anecdote leads me to my first point.

Sense of Superiority

It’s not just mere pride for your culture and where you come from. Many Black Americans feel a definite sense of superiority emanating from Africans towards us. Flat out nose-stuck-in-the-air and don’t-want-to-be-associated-with-us-at-all-because-we’re-better snobbiness.

Of course, this doesn’t go for ALL Africans. I know many humble, down-to-earth Africans who I recognize as definitely being proud of we’re they’re from without exhibitinng the superior attitude.

You may argue that you feel a similar sense of superiority coming from some Black Americans and I agree. It comes from ignorant ones.

But we’re not all ignorant, so why I do I have to pay for your snobby attitude because you were picked on in 3rd grade and called an “African booty scratcher?” I wasn’t the one who said it! I got teased my damn self! Kids are evil and don’t know any better anyways.

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A picture of Langston Hughes.

This is not to diminish other African people’s suffering outside of America and I’m not saying that our pain is greater than any other African nation’s. But we’re talking about America here. I hate to say it, but we’re the ones who improved race relations here in America, making it possible for you to come over here and get bread.

We’ve come so far as black people in America. We still have a long way to go, but we’ve come oh so far already! Our ancestors helped make the United States what it is today, so yes this is our country. We’re just as proud of our heritage as you all are of your heritage even though we’re not 100% African and can’t trace back our roots. No matter how much White America tries to discredit our rightful claim to this country, we, too, are America. (S/o to Langston Hughes.)

And American history is the reason why so many Black Americans are still fucked up today. We were brainwashed to hate ourselves and naturally, Africa, so when some of us see you, a living embodiment of Africa, our first instinct is to shun you. People in general hate and fear what they don’t understand, which is why we need to educate each other, not fight each other.

Much like colonialism still ravages many African countries, the effects of slavery linger on. But we are learning. We’re becoming less ignorant about the Motherland. We’re becoming more proud of our African heritage, after being told to hate it for hundreds of years.

You Don’t Get to Know Us

There’s the Black Student Union and the African Student Union. There are African parties and there are black parties.

Sometimes I think being African is like being part of some secret society. No matter how close I get to my African friends, I can never get too close. I need to go back over with my “akata” friends and you stay over there with the Nigerians and Ghanaians.

And I kind of get it. I’m a part of a BGLO and Greek life is really a whole other world. (Can you guess which? Lol.) There are some things we just don’t get culturally because we’re not African African. Like there’s some things non-Greeks just don’t get. When I relate it this way, I can sort of understand.

But we’re the same race. Differing cultures, but the same damn race. We came from the same place.

Africa_Flag_Map_normal

Okay, at least Asians and Indians who immigrate to America can choose whether they want to be on the “white” side or the “black” side when they come to America, but you’re grouped with us by default since we look just alike and that’s not really fair to you.

Overall, I get the sense of we’re more open to accepting you than you are of accepting us. (Probably because of the superiority sensed.) And maybe it’s a mask because you anticipate being judged negatively by Black Americans, so you stay around the people you know. Whichever the case, the separation between our communities is evident.

I do see this changing, however. As the younger Black American and African generations interact with each other more, the social walls begin to fade away. This occurs frequently on college campuses across the nation, where Black Americans and African college students tend to link together since they make up the minority.

And I notice a sort of double-consciousness developing for this first American born or raised generation of Africans whose parents immigrated from Africa. There’s confusion when asked, “Where are you from?” because they don’t know whether to say their American hometown or the home of their parents. Oftentimes fitting into and appreciating both, first American born or raised generations straddle the fence between black culture and African culture. For example, many are familiar with many Black American films as well African ones and listen to Black American music like hip-hop and R&B as well as the latest African tunes.

In the end, there are your black friends and there are your African friends, and they just don’t mix. You have to hang out with them separately because they just wouldn’t understand each other.

Well, I don’t think that’s really true. If you just try.

A meme of Ernestine Johnson performing

A meme of Ernestine Johnson performing “The Average Black Girl” on the Arsenio Hall show.

You Believe the Stereotypes

I can understand why many Africans don’t want to be associated with Black Americans. Lumping yourselves with us means you’re now a drug-dealing, baby-mama-having, uneducated, fatherless, and poor thug. At least that’s what the media says.

But it hurts. When you believe these stereotypes just like the rest of the world, it hurts. I guess we think that our own blood would be able to understand that these are just negative stereotypes.

Hell, I hate being lumped under the negative stereotypes of black people, too! I don’t have any kids, no baby-daddies. I have a college degree and I’m not ratchet. (Okay, only on the weekends.)

But instead of trying to distance myself from black people so I don’t get negatively stereotyped (*cough* Raven-Symone), I work to fight against these ugly stereotypes. Because the “average black girl” I know is something I could only aspire to be.

An awesome book by Adichie that touches on love and race from a young Nigerian woman's perspective.

An awesome book by Adichie that touches on love and race from a young Nigerian woman’s perspective.

I understand being proud of where you come from and not wanting to be labeled a Black American, because no, you’re a Nigerian, Ghanain, Cameroonian, etc. I know it’s not fair that America seems to want to strip you of your heritage and just see you as “black” like us, but that’s just the way it is.

When White America sees you, they see us. Hell, we even mix ourselves up a lot of time because we look so alike.

Simply, White America doesn’t care if you’re African. A racist police officer is not going to stop in the middle of harrassing you when he learns that you’re Nigerian and not “regular black.” (Here I’m echoing one of my favorite authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her book, Americanah.) It really makes me wonder whether if being black in America came with all of the privileges of being white in America, would you be so adamant about differentiating yourselves?

On the other hand,  you can argue that many Black Americans believe the negative stereotypes that the Western media portrays of Africa. You all live in huts with no electricity and running water. You ride hyenas to school and have lions in your backyard. Emaciated, starving babies run rampant.

The Black Americans who believe that are ignorant and simply haven’t “woke up” yet. I realize that not everyone is as fortunate as me to receive a college education and more importantly, education of history, identity, and self. But instead of looking down on them, we must teach them.

Uneducated Black Americans believe this caricature of Africa because they’re uneducated. Educated Black Americans like myself and all of my friends realize that Africa is no broken, backwards place. It is its riches that drew so many pale faces to wrongly colonize it in the first place.

Frankly, my Alma Mater (s/o to HU) would have never let me graduate believing that Africa was the poor, starving continent that the media paints. A lot of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, or HBCUS, require its students to take a black history class. Personally, I took African Diaspora and it allowed me to see that my history didn’t just begin with slavery. Imagine if all Black Americans knew that.

An African wedding party.

An African wedding party.

You Won’t Marry Us

Several African friends told me that their parents would kill them if they brought home an akata.

Now, again, I understand the reasoning behind it. You want to preserve your culture and marry someone from the same tribe, if not the same country as you.

That’s no different from all the other nations in the world who like to marry their own.

Yet, and this references the points I made before, along with this comes an attitude of superiority and the belief of stereotypes. And many Africans assume that they’d have nothing in common with a Black American because they don’t interact with us enough.

It’s similar to how when certain black men explain why they don’t date black women, it’s often coupled with the negative stereotypes of black women. I don’t date black women because they’re ghetto, have attitudes, and are uneducated. (Although black women, along with Asian women, are the most educated minority group. I’m sleep.)

Similarly, akatas are poor, lazy, and ignorant! *sucks teeth* Why would I date them?

Frankly, and I tell my African friends this all the time, it’s not enough good black men as it is to even further limit yourself to good African black men, but to each her own! More for me. (It’s a joke. Laugh.)

One thing’s for certain. If you’re dark-skinned and sexy, Layla’s gonna want to date you whether you’re from New Jersey, Niger, or West Bumbafuck. Dazit.

In The End

I felt the same sense of anger reading Zara Chiron’s article as I imagine she must’ve felt when she read that woman’s comment. One woman doesn’t speak for all Black Americans, though. I don’t think like that and I don’t know anyone who thinks like that because I don’t surround myself with ignorant motherfuckers.

Yet, I read the entire article and respected her opinion. I understand that she was just speaking from her experiences with Black Americans just like I am speaking from mine with Africans.

The Pan African flag.

The Pan African flag.

In the end, we can learn a lot from each other and we already have. As more Africans immigrate to the United States and we interact with each other more and more, we can share our cultures and learn to understand each other better. There is still so much of Africa reminsicent in Black American culture, if you just look. It’s in our music and the way we dance. It’s in our speech. Did you know that Ebonics developed from the merging of African languages and English when African slaves were brought to the U.S. and began speaking English?

If we came together, along with the rest of the African diaspora, what a sight to behold. I hope one day that we can stand side by side and let the sun embrace us. Ain’t no sunburns bihh.

Another amazing article on this subject here.

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13 comments

  • mark photo

    oA79Zn Thanks for another fantastic article. Where else could anybody get that type of info in such an ideal way of writing? I have a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.

  • Allv

    If some Africans don’t want to associate with African Americans, they don’t have to.
    Why don’t you attack white people or the jews or koreans for “walking around like they’re better than African Americans”?
    Is it because it’s more convenient to attack the Africans first?
    Race is a social construct. Culture isn’t.
    We don’t force Chinese people and Korean people to associate with each other ( though they’re the same “race”.). Why? BECAUSE THEY EACH HAVE THEIR OWN CULTURE.
    Your article is full of generalizations. Not all Africans are against marrying African Americans. I know so many Africans who even marry outside the race.

    POINT BLANK: If you’re African American and you have the traits Africans can relate to, they’ll connect to you.
    If you’re too westernized and stereotypical, they will shun you. Why? Because THEY DON’T FEEL COMFORTABLE RELATING TO YOU.
    Of course you can’t feel 100% connected with someone who doesn’t share the same culture as you. Africans shouldn’t water down their culture just so you relate to them more, and vice versa. If there’s a connection, there’s a connection. If not, fuck it and move on.

    • laylareaves

      Lol no it’s because we’re the same race and we come from the same place. Nobody’s asking anybody to water down their culture. We are connected whether you want to admit or not. Whether you “feel” it or not you can’t ignore the history, the physical features, and even CULTURAL similarities that we share. China and Korea have two distinct histories. Although Black Americans and Africans don’t share a culture, we share a history (specifically West Africans.) Nobody’s asking you to go out and force a connection, but merely to be more open. We can be more open on both sides to fostering that connection. Oftentimes there are barriers like the ones I mentioned in this article, hence me writing it and pointing it out. Nowhere did I state that my points applied to ALL Africans or ALL African-Americans. I stated that there are exceptions many times. Please work on reading comprehension, love.

  • Trishe

    I loved this article! It’s all my thoughts in one post. I have truly given up on trying to explain to Africans that we aren’t akatas, but I do hope we can all do better one day.

  • Glen Lewis

    Black Americans don’t understand fully why they are so disliked , it’s easier for an African to get along with a Caribbean or even a European than a black American. the black American man can be reformed but I don’t believe the black American woman can be help she has deep issues with self-respect and hate of her own kind

    • laylareaves

      Ehh to each her own. I completely disagree with you, but I respect your opinion. your vocabulary “issues with self-respect” and “reformed” indicate to me that you have a lot of superiority & male chauvinism going on. everyone thinks their country/culture is the best. i get it. but you should still respect others’, including Black Americans’. we don’t have to be reformed. and instead of telling Black Americans what they need to do, look at yourself (corrupt African governments, female genital mutilation, general lack of respect for women etc.) My post explained how BOTH of us put up barriers in the way of understanding each other; it’s not just one of us, so if you think there’s nothing you could change, then there’s no point in having this conversation. #lookinthemirrorboo #thanksforreading

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