going back to africa

Reunifying African diaspora across the Americas with each other, their pride, history, culture, true homes & identity…

Archive for the tag “black culture”

White Fragility in conclusion

White people often believe that multicultural / anti-racist education is only necessary for those who interact with “minorities” or in “diverse” environments. However, the dynamics discussed here suggest that it is critical that all white people build the stamina to sustain conscious & explicit engagement with race. When whites posit race as non-operative because there are few, if any, PoC in their immediate environments, Whiteness is reinscribed ever more deeply. When whites only notice “raced others,” we reinscribe Whiteness by continuing to posit Whiteness as universal & non-Whiteness as other. Further, if we can’t listen to or comprehend the perspectives of PoC, we cannot bridge cross-racial divides. A continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement results in a perpetual cycle that works to hold racism in place. While anti-racist efforts ultimately seek to transform institutionalized racism, anti-racist education may be most effective by starting at the micro level.

 The goal is to generate the development of perspectives & skills that enable all people, regardless of racial location, to be active initiators of change. Since all individuals who live within a racist system are enmeshed in its relations, this means that all are responsible for either perpetuating or transforming that system. However, although all individuals play a role in keeping the system active, the responsibility for change is not equally shared. White racism is ultimately a white problem & the burden for interrupting it belongs to white people. Conversations about Whiteness might best happen within the context of a larger conversation about racism. It is useful to start at the micro level of analysis & move to the macro, from the individual out to the interpersonal, societal & institutional. Starting with the individual & moving outward to the ultimate framework for racism – Whiteness – allows for the pacing that is necessary for many white people for approaching the challenging study of race. In this way, a discourse on Whiteness becomes part of a process rather than an event.

 Many white people have never been given direct or complex information about racism before & often cannot explicitly see, feel, or understand it. PoC are generally much more aware of racism on a personal level, but due to the wider society’s silence & denial of it, often do not have a macro-level framework from which to analyze their experiences. Further, dominant society “assigns” different roles to different groups of color & a critical consciousness about racism varies not only between individuals within groups, but also between groups. For example, many African Americans relate having been “prepared” by parents to live in a racist society, while many Asian heritage people say that racism was never directly discussed in their homes. A macro-level analysis may offer a framework to understand different interpretations & performances across & between racial groups. In this way, all parties benefit & efforts are not solely focused on whites (which works to re-center Whiteness).

 Talking directly about white supremacy & privilege, in addition to providing much needed information & shared definitions, is also in itself a powerful interruption of common (& oppressive) discursive patterns around race. At the same time, white people often need to reflect upon racial information & be allowed to make connections between the information & their own lives. Educators can encourage & support white participants in making their engagement a point of analysis. White Fragility doesn’t always manifest in overt ways; silence & withdrawal are also functions of fragility. Who speaks, who doesn’t speak, when, for how long & with what emotional valence are all keys to understanding the relational patterns that hold oppression in place. Viewing white anger, defensiveness, silence & withdrawal in response to issues of race through the framework of White Fragility may help frame the problem as an issue of stamina-building & thereby guide our interventions accordingly.

Like it or not.. You from Africa!

afriI was told by a ‘black’ man that he believed ALL persons residing in the USA should drop the ethnic titles from our personal descriptions & to only call ourselves as Americans. He thought it was silly of me to refer to myself as African merely because I’m ‘black’ & that he hated when people claimed to be deeply tied to a culture they’ve never seen or experienced. That he agreed with & respected the perspective of African-born Africans who “would slap him if he called himself Afrikan”, because upon being brought to the Americas, ‘blacks’ were stripped of their culture, so we have no right to claim to be Africans. He believed the only culture we could honestly recognize & claim is whatever we cultivated since slavery, but nothing prior to that time. Said that “dreaming of Africa” was not going to help with this disconnect & that we should just continue to build on our culture here, not there. My reply was as follows:

I am an American as far as citizenship goes, but my ethnicity is not limited to my citizenship. Because of the manner in which this country was “founded”, I personally don’t feel I have the right to claim ownership of this country as my own & claim American heritage, as it was stolen. To claim such a thing, to me, would be to accept what happened as forgivable & forgettable, which it is not. — I don’t consider myself African just because of the color of my skin. Being African goes far deeper than that. It’s about our culture, spirituality, sense of identity & history, too. History cannot be altered, therefore I do not believe our roots can be altered at our own will, to later pretend to be something else simply because of where you were born. For me to consider myself as only American, the history of my people would have had to begin strictly in America, which it did not. — The history of Africans goes far back beyond slavery, but if I claim myself to be only American, that means I denounce my history prior to slavery & that I have no ties to Africa, which is not true. I don’t choose to not call myself or any other non-Native an American because I hate the USA; I choose not to because technically it isn’t true & that like it or not, you’re African!!

Was I wrong??

On social networks, I have seen posts with phrases stating: The only difference between African-Americans, Jamaicans, Haitians, Dominicans, etc., is a different boat stop. I agree with this statement to a degree, as far as a desire to shed anything divisive in order to bring about unity. However, the various regions have distinctly different histories & cultures, so I can also respect peoples pride & sentimental ties to their nationalities. It is my hope & dream that despite the differences in our cultures, that African people worldwide will be able to unite in an effort to reclaim & rebuild our lost history, culture & bonds to each other, to make our true home, Alkebulan, a great nation once again!

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