“Don’t be angry.” David besieged, trying to placate me. “I’m not angry.” I replied, looking at both of them. But I was. “Look, the legacy of colonialism impacts each group” He says. “Along with how people are introduced to and have access to work. People born in Africa have a different perspective on opportunities and rights at the workplace than those who were born in the United States, who have their own perspective on this country’s history of discrimination. So for American Blacks and Africans, there’s always going to be an undertone of conflict. It doesn’t surface often…but, I have to tell you, people from Africa have the impression that they’re a little bit smarter…a little more superior than you American Blacks. It doesn’t get talked about in mixed company of course, only amongst ourselves. I don’t always agree with my countrymen, because I’ve met very intelligent American Blacks…you included. But I have to further say, both groups share misinformation, lack of knowledge and understanding of each other.”
“But you know what bothers me?” CeCe asked. “Africans think that American Blacks give their children useless, stupid names, like Tameka and Tyquesha or Moesha…what does those names mean?” She asks me. “I don’t know”, I replied. “But the majority of our names especially our surnames are white names which tell us our ancestors were once property owned by the white slaveholders. And I’m guessing by giving their children quasi-African sounding names is their way of erasing or correcting that.” I reasoned. “Okay, that’s plausible, but I’m tired of the self-pity the American Blacks always wallow in; always blaming your problems on ‘Wazunga’, the white man…or if not the white man, then the Africans who sold their ancestors into slavery.” CeCe finished, pointing her fork at me.
“Well its true isn’t it?” I challenged her. “Well maybe they should have run faster, and then maybe the white man wouldn’t have gotten them!” “CeCe that’s not funny.” David said, admonishing her. “Okay, it’s not funny, but it is ridiculous to suggest that Africans haven’t had to deal with racism…we dealt with it, tried to overcome it and have moved on. We don’t dwell on it.” I had to remind her that racism in this country is still alive and kicking!! And is even more self evident because we have a Black president. “Yes, but Americans stay too focus on the racism, which prevents you from moving forward to achieve. A lot of Africans come here with absolutely nothing but the desire to do something for themselves, and for that, we are condemned for trying. We know all white people see is our black skin; and they could careless about our intra-cultural arguments…in fact they are hoping that we all kill each other fighting over the scraps…to divide and conquer.” Out of breath, CeCe took a drink of water. “I understand all that”, I said. “But let me tell you about some Black history that you don’t know…or maybe you do.” David leaned in closer.
“American Blacks moved up north from the South in the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s to fill low-paying jobs. They fought for their rights…rights that YOU and David are enjoying NOW!!!! They demanded access to better jobs and weren’t willing to continue bad-paying work under poor and substandard conditions. But when Africans come here and take the goff and disrespect white bosses subject them to without complaint, they are seen as “better workers, with better attitudes” than American Blacks. And it worsened in hard economic times when Blacks of all stripes vied for the few measly jobs available, especially when a lot of you don’t understand what it’s like to not be seen as a valid contributor to American society. And when you get here, you pick up on the stereotypical attitude toward American Blacks and think to yourself, ‘I wasn’t born here, so I’m not one of them. So what we see is a willingness to stab us in the back, while kissing up to the white bosses with a ‘yes, massa’ attitude.” I exhaled. “So David’s earlier comment about Americans sitting around doing nothing…I resent the hell out of that comment. And by-the-by, both of you have been in the United States only 6 years and if it weren’t for American Blacks you wouldn’t be able to enjoy OUR…
• Affirmative Action
• The Right to Vote
• Access to Education
• Civil Rights (even though most Africans didn’t participate in the movement)
• Jobs with benefits
• Decent housing
• Other Economic opportunities, entitlements, etc.
I continued to say, “American Blacks have trail-blazed and set examples in this country of which Africans enjoy, so DO NOT denigrate American Blacks.”
A.G. Thornton is a writer an author of FAMILY, FRIENDS, HUSBANDS and LOVERS… THE BEST OF ENEMIES