Friday, November 16, 2007

Unpopular Opinions

I've always felt that history is there for us to learn from, NOT, carry as a burden and I'm learning that unfortunately that's the case for many peoples of all backgrounds in the USofA. Saying that, what I'm missing from the black community on a large scale is wholesale acknowledgement of their own duplicity in the problems that are plaguing their communities. What whites think, shouldn't be a focus to excused the attitudes of so many under-achieved black people, but it seems they use this as a measuring stick, give up and, continue the annihilation cycle. Personally, I've been lucky to have had parents who were immigrants and instilled in us the power of education. We spoke standard English with a Caribbean accent and were teased mercilessly by many U.S. born blacks, who "resented" that our level of the English language obviously was higher than theirs and on top of that we were seen as the teacher's favourites. On our way home we were chased if we ever were alone and sometimes beaten, because they assumed we thought we were better. My parents worked hard and finally were able to move out of that neighborhood and it was upward for us from then on. My older siblings are outstanding adults who have moved back to our island home for fear of raising their kids in black communities that were constantly on self destructive trips.
Cee

___________________________________________________________________________________________
This message was left on Classical One's blog in reference to his recent post discussing Bill Cosby and Alvin Poussaint's recent book about the problems that they recognize in the black American community, and how they believe these problems should be resolved. I would like to extend my congratulations to Cee for being lucky enough to be born to immigrant parents. She is clearly proud of her heritage, and feels blessed that she came from the background that she did.

Like Cee, I am also lucky. I was blessed to be born to black American parents in the United States in the post-Civil Rights era. Thus, I have enjoyed the benefits of the struggles of my black American ancestors: living in a country with a black population that collectively enjoys the greatest wealth, highest average annual income, and highest average educational attainment of any significant black population on the planet. Because of my black American heritage and the struggles of my black American ancestors, I have had the opportunity to attend private schools, travel all over the world, have access to the best health care, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing, electric lights, and the millions of other advantages that I and other Americans simply take for granted. Because of my ancestry above all, I have had the drive and ambition to pursue those opportunities to the fullest, and have had a whole cavalcade of role models, from Dr. King and Malcolm X, to Bill Cosby himself, who are not only known to me and other black Americans, but are universally admired, from Thailand to Uruguay to Finland. I have a precious legacy like no other, and my gratitude for it is fathomless.

That I am proud of who I am and where I come from should really go without saying--shouldn't everyone be? But, inevitably, there will be people who respond to this post as if I have written something obscene. Black Americans are the one group who are supposed to never, ever, express pride. Inevitably, someone will bring up crime statistics, marriage statistics, and out-of-wedlock birth statistics. They will likely point to other groups that have "succeeded" where black Americans have "failed." If I dare point out similar "failures" among those groups, I will be soundly admonished, even called a "bigot," and soberly reminded of the history of imperialism, colonialism, racism and oppression that these people have suffered that have contributed to the conditions in their home countries that they have often compelled them to come to the U.S. for higher education, jobs, and quite often, citizenship. On the other hand, black Americans must never mention history in discussing any problems that may persist in our community--history is history for others, but for us it is simply an "excuse."

Also relevant is the expectation that, as Americans, we will share in America's "guilty conscience" about U.S. economic colonialism and cultural imperialism--that we will cower in shame as many white Americans do when confronted with America's history of bad acts across the world. However, I'm not ashamed of being a black American--as I said, I am proud of it. Black Americans didn't engineer "Manifest Destiny" or plop a McDonalds on every street corner in the universe. We opened the doors that allowed freer entry to this country for more diverse populations, and allowed them to access greater opportunities once they got here as well. While it has always been a rite of passage to "Americanhood" to participate in the all-American pastime of distancing oneself from American blacks, that has never stopped us from continuing to progress, even in the face of those among us who embrace DBR behavior.

Yes, black American pride has become an unpopular opinion, and I imagine there are some, if not many, who will be offended that I dared to express it. But proud I am. I can only hope the same for all of you, whoever or whatever you may be.

86 comments:

Danielle said...

Preach girl! Preach! Outstanding post from you and so very true. Everyone else in the world can show pride in who they are, but you know that loving blackness is as bell hooks said "a revolutionary act".

We can't love ourselves too much or it's a threat to the world. We can't have our "own" or folks will think we are plotting the downfall of America.

It's a bunch of b.s.

pinkydj said...

Brava, Aimee, Brava !!



pinky

felicia said...

Excellent post Aimee.

You have such a beautiful and honest way of expressing yourself. NO population should be judged by the worst of it's members. We are all individuals and should therefore (although it's unfortunately often not the case) be judged individually.

EmergingPhoenix said...

Aimee, I completely agree with you, and think you bring up some excellent points.

I have to interject though, since I am an American born child of Jamaican immigrants, that from an immigrant perspective the views are always going to be uninformed, and based on media images and gossip. This IS no different than the Asian who comes here and may assume you are dangerous. In addition, there is a certain level of misunderstanding among blacks who immigrate from black majority areas to black minority areas. As was pointed out with the similarities between blacks in America and blacks in England (large portion West Indian)over at C1's blog. The blacks who immigrate come with the desire to do better, and have the "luxury" of not being initially burdened with the historical problems that brought about the state of affairs for the native blacks. Not to say they do not experience or even know of racism, but like whites who can be blissfully unappreciative of the struggles of blacks, recent black immigrants have not had the "can-do" spirit beaten out of them. In fact they are fully injected with the "can-do" spirit in their journey to wherever.

I think patience is necessary from both parties. I think the more amenable we are to open dialogue and differing points of view, the more appreciative we can be of each other. The biggest issue is that neither party, even to this day, have a real and clear understanding of each other. The black race is a broad brush, that covers thousands if not millions of cultures, values, and belief systems. We have to stop assuming we are all the same, with the same struggles. The only commonality we all have is the global social ranking we all share and the common struggles we face in an exploited capitalist structure (I can see Zabeth reeling as she reads the last part, LOL!! ;) ).

As for the points on showing pride, I think you made an excellent observation and really framed the issue. I think there is another problem in black america, that has yet to be discussed. What is the culture of black Americans? I mean, is it me, or shouldn't black americans be acknowledged as simply Americans, with a huge and untalked about history? Isn't black American culture mostly an extension of American culture, that has the unfortunate burden of oppression? Before anyone takes offense to that comment, please know this is more of a thought process that is going on with me right now, and I am really just looking for your opinions on the matter.

Your third paragraph sums up the delusional madness that is taking place. People are so unaware of their lapse from reality, sometimes, that they fight even harder to MAKE the dream a reality. They use incoherent logic (spin), and rallying of groups to support that logic. When it happens in front of me, I am continually amazed at how accepting of the madness some people get, to the degree of hostility to any dissenters.

JJ said...

he blacks who immigrate come with the desire to do better, and have the "luxury" of not being initially burdened with the historical problems that brought about the state of affairs for the native blacks. Not to say they do not experience or even know of racism, but like whites who can be blissfully unappreciative of the struggles of blacks, recent black immigrants have not had the "can-do" spirit beaten out of them. In fact they are fully injected with the "can-do" spirit in their journey to wherever.


Thanks for pointing that out. It always seem to get lost somewhere when these issues come up.

I think there is another problem in black america, that has yet to be discussed. What is the culture of black Americans?

Yeah. I've been trying to figure that one out myself. And I'm American.

Anonymous said...

Enough said! Right on point!

Anonymous said...

Odd how you note how black Americans enjoy the highest income, clean water, etc., of an black population in history, but then distance yourself from some of the policies that helped create this nation of opportunities (e.g., Manifest Destiny). I don't think it rational to take credit for certain successes but at the same time disavow the policies that helped make such success even possible to begin with. Even if you were to attribute your success to your efforts, still the conditions, the foundation, that provides the opportunity for such success, was created by these policies. Black Americans enjoy the fruits of those policies as well; if you disavow those policies then you must not take credit for their fruits. Also, it's extreme weirdness to disavow, or distance yourself, from past American policies you don't like by blaming whites for them but to take credit for ones you do like by attributing those good ones to blacks in American history. Moreover, the congresses that passed immigration policies that opened the door to more diverse populations (to use this one policy you cite as a "good" one) were not composed of mostly black Americans; maybe not even one black American in any of those congresses (maybe Barbara Jordan was in Congress during 1964 immigration reform; a few probably at the time of the 1986 immigration act but certainly not a majority of Congress). Similarly, the presidents who signed those "good" bills these largely-white congresses passed were white. In fact, any "good" policy you cite would have been promulgated and passed totally or largely by whites. One may counter that civil rights laws, to use another example of "good" laws, were passed under pressure from blacks, and this would be true. Still, white congresses passed them and ultimately answered to a largely white constituency. And with regard to immigration reform which allowed more Hispanics and Asians into the US - no significant populations of those groups here at the time these policies were passed so these policies could not be attributed to similar pressure having been brought to bear on white congresses. So, this counter-argument (pressure forced white congresses to pass these laws)won't fly at least with regard to immigration policies. As to your larger point about pride at black Americans' success, makes sense. People will probably blast me for what I've said here, but I don't think one could counter factually (or maybe people could - I put it out as a comment b/c I'm open to counterarguments).

Aimee said...

EmergingPhoenix said...

What is the culture of black Americans? I mean, is it me, or shouldn't black americans be acknowledged as simply Americans, with a huge and untalked about history? Isn't black American culture mostly an extension of American culture, that has the unfortunate burden of oppression?


Hi EP :-)

Let me ask you this: what is the culture of Jamaica? Isn't it really just an extension of the culture of England, that has the unfortunate burden of oppression?

I'm sure you would find such a suggestion absurd, and not merely because Jamaica and Britain occupy different pieces of geography. Culture reflect a people's unique historical exepriences, that shape everything from the food they eat, to the music they listen to and make, to the literature they produce.

Is Motown the same as the San Franciso Sound? Is Toni Morrison the same as Phillip Roth or Joan Didion? All of these are products of American culture, but not the same American culture. That is part of what makes American culture distinct generally from other cultures--it encompasses so many peoples, and even while we share elements of a national character, we also retain elements of our distinct experiences.

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

Odd how you note how black Americans enjoy the highest income, clean water, etc., of an black population in history, but then distance yourself from some of the policies that helped create this nation of opportunities (e.g., Manifest Destiny).

___________________________________

Because black Americans don't enjoy those advantages because of those policies; we enjoy those advantages because we fought for them--we were purposely and explicitly excluded from the opportunities offered by this nation until we refused to be excluded any longer.

There are very few countries on the planet that do not offer similar advantages to their elites. The countries where these advantages are more widely available are those where the masses of people struggled to gain access to that afffluence for greater proportions of the population.

In terms of "counterarguing," no thanks--I don't wrestle strawmen. :-)

Anonymous said...

Aimee: True, black Americans had to fight for some of those specific advantages (let's say, voting, for example, or access to good schools), but the CONDITIONS, the FOUNDATION that even make these an option exist partly because of some of those policies you detest. One can live in Cambodia and fight all one wants for good schools, clean water, and voting, but it ain't happening (elections happen, but only recently, and highly corrupt). That was my point - specific advantanges had to be fought for, for sure, but no fighting could have obtained them without some of those "bad" policies that you denounce having occurred.

Anonymous said...

Super fantastic post Aimee. I am very proud of who I am and will not let anyone tell me I shouldn't be.

That said, I'm so sick and tired of the Caribs and the Africans coming on black American forums touting their supposed superiority. It's on every single forum I go on. Africans and Caribs may come to America and do better (riding our post civil rights coattails, of course)but, I look at the crime stats on the continent of Africa and in the Carib. islands and I have to laugh at these people. Of course they come to America and do better. They're so grateful to be out of their previous situations and we've made it easier for them. They seem to enjoy their status as "the good blacks". Do they realize that MOST immigrants, of all races, have the same positive attributes assigned to them?? Hard working, more productive than the native population, etc. As I see it, Caribs and Africans are no more special than anyone else and I certainly won't be made to feel inferior by them.

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

the CONDITIONS, the FOUNDATION that even make these an option exist partly because of some of those policies you detest.

Conditions, such as clean water, indoor plumbing, electric lights, and high quality education exist in Cambodia, Bolivia, Indonesia, and virtually every country on the earth--for elites. It isn't the existence of these amenities in the U.S. that makes it special, it is their widespread availability and accessibility--which is a function of a wide variety of it's people fighting for that wider distrubition of such resources and the opportunity for more people to enjoy them. The idea that if Malaysia for example, simply implemented a policy of "manifest destiny" it would have a broad-based middle class and a putatively democratic political system is ahistorical and inaccurate. Again, this is why I don't wrestle strawmen--those who rely on them do so in lieu of a genuine understanding of the concepts and historical theories that they reference. If you want to send me an email with more of your "theories" or sign in with your screename, feel free to continue addressing me--otherwise, I've explained my position to you, and it's clear that you aren't about to change it with what you've brought so far.

gatamala said...

Africans and Caribs may come to America and do better (riding our post civil rights coattails, of course)but, I look at the crime stats on the continent of Africa and in the Carib. islands and I have to laugh at these people. Of course they come to America and do better.

Also they don't consider that the average person who saves money/applies for a visa etc... won't be the average or less than average person. They also don't consider that immigration laws were changed in 1965 and enabled them to be up in here in the first place!!

Also, most black immigrants will start off living/working around the black underclass. All they see is the worst of the bunch. They don't live around those of us from working class, middle class, affluent families and never interact with us. Their view of Black America is very myopic.

I find it odd that other blacks will attribute their success to their "culture", however, they are unable to explain why an island/nation full of people with the supposedly superior "culture" is such a catastrophe...

I suspect a lot of the attitude is trying to compensate for their new inferior status in the US. It takes a hot second to see the American racial pecking order. In addition -folks from the continent of Africa in particular - will have a complex just being from the continent. It's always expedient to participate in racism than it is to fight it. Shitting on American blacks is the American way.

EmergingPhoenix said...

Wow!! I just want to point out to everyone who has commented, how xenophobic you all sound. I mean, not one of you started from a place of respect or understanding, before you decided to spout off borderline hateful comments. How do you expect to have a dialogue with people, when you are so insulting? Your words are no different than any poor white and/or xenophobic loser who would like to see ALL immigrants (not of European descent of course), go back to wherever they hell they came from, and this includes your black behind, even though you were brought here forcefully! Take a step back and ask yourself why you are so angry. Is it because the words of superiority from another black person, hit a soft spot? How does this anger move us into a better place? Is it rational, considering the state of affairs for blacks in the US AND globally, to actually find MORE reasons to divide us?! Reality check!! Although, I love to speak positively of all the accomplishments I have seen blacks AROUND THE WORLD making, I just want to point out, that things are not all hunky dory in the US, so please give me a break!! We cannot change the state of our collective affairs, if we do not find common ground to stand on. We cannot lay TRUE stake in the control over the financial systems of black majority countries until we all choose to support EACH OTHER!!

@Aimee – You said:

“Let me ask you this: what is the culture of Jamaica? Isn't it really just an extension of the culture of England, that has the unfortunate burden of oppression?

I'm sure you would find such a suggestion absurd, and not merely because Jamaica and Britain occupy different pieces of geography.”


Aimee, you are right to add in that Jamaica and the UK occupy different areas on the map. In fact, the UK is across the big pond from us, so really your analogy doesn’t apply. I feel this comment is rash and does not come from a place of interest, but reproach. To approach the point you are trying to make, though, I would not say your analogy is completely ridiculous. Of course, the UK influenced the culture of Jamaica. Afterall, it was a British colony for far too long, and then abandoned by that same colonial rule and subsequently crushing their economy. The American culture is one that consists of many mainly European influences and a bloody history; slavery had a huge impact on that culture as well as the influences of the Native Americans already here. To assert that black American culture is no different from American culture at large is an acknowledgement that there are many cultures here that helped to shape America, but there is an underlying culture. I think blacks do not know where they fit in, so they just find reasons to say “they don’t”, when in fact down to the mere Ebonics that has become the tag name for black dialect, can be associated with exposure to poor, illiterate whites, whose similar poor vernacular comes really close to sounding like Ebonics. In Jamaica, we really speak the Queens English; it is what is taught in school. Patois is nothing more than English “pigeon”, a result of not being taught the language and meshing some lost mash of different African tribal words, with the standard English they picked up during the slave trade.

I mean really, this all starting off to be a very disappointing conversation. If the point is just to bash immigrants, then I say, please go join the neo-nazi. You will find plenty of people there who share your sentiment. I will not participate in a back and forth bashing, and I will have to excuse myself from this discussion thread. However, if you want the opinion of someone who sees both sides, then please try to be respectful, b/c I have a low tolerance.

gatamala said...

ep~

Cee said

Personally, I've been lucky to have had parents who were immigrants and instilled in us the power of education.

You said

Is it because the words of superiority from another black person, hit a soft spot? How does this anger move us into a better place?

Ask yourself the same question.
Do you show this level of anger towards black immigrants that denigrate African Americans, or do you really believe that they/you are superior? The real comparison isn't American blacks & immigrant blacks who [once they make the distinction] may be preferred by whites. It is American blacks and African/Caribbean blacks in their native lands. All I ask is that before someone starts spouting off how hard they work (1) they get out of the ghetto and (2) look at the folks in their home countries.

The statement posted on C1s blog that is the subject of this post is one that I've heard more often than not. I even heard it an HBCU for Christsake!! You just articulated it again.

It's like the discussion on the other blogs about men. How many times do I have to hear about how lazy Black Americans are? You managed to slide it in just now. I will preface it w/ "not every black immigrant is like that".


Your words are no different than any poor white and/or xenophobic loser who would like to see ALL immigrants (not of European descent of course), go back to wherever they hell they came from, and this includes your black behind, even though you were brought here forcefully!

Your words state and Cee's strongly imply the good black/bad black dichotomy. The myth of the hard-working immigrant vs. lazy negro is a not so subtle dig at us. The xenophobes of which you speak love it too! It is one that you have bought into.

My words are food for thought for black immigrants who feel the need to look down on black Americans. Those white folk you speak of don't have cab drivers telling them that "black women don't take care of themselves down there" [Ghanaian man told me this, after I paid a cab fare and fed his family].

Yeah, this subject touches a raw nerve. It's like someone coming into your house and putting their feet on your coffee table after you waxed it.

EmergingPhoenix said...

@Gatamala

You are making some grand assumptions about my thought and feelings. Please do not ever presume to know what I am thinking, what I have done, or interpret your own bs into my words. My statement that: Is it because the words of superiority from another black person, hit a soft spot? How does this anger move us into a better place?
Is not one of superiority, it is a question at why are you soo angry. Is it possibly because you hate to hear the air of superiority coming from another person of your color? Would you feel the same if it was an Asian immigrant? I notice the same blacks who complain about Africans/Caribbeans are the first to subscribe to the “intelligent” Asian stereotype. Is it because we are black? Furthermore, how do my words “...state the good black/bad black dichotomy…The myth of the hard-working immigrant vs. lazy Negro?” Please do not infer your own misinterpretation into my words. I made no mention of the hard working immigrant, you inferred that (and it was a stretch IMO). If you must know whether or not I have given the same speech to black immigrants (and yes it is about black immigrants not about other countries, b/c when you find yourself in Jamaica, Haiti, Ghana, etc., you are also subject to roll in their with an air of superiority, which is evidently imminent from your attitude), the answer is yes. Of course, I have/would. Unlike a lot of people who just spout off bs, I actually mean what I say. You definitely do not know me, and I will say this, I AM PROUD OF MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS! And I will not back down to please you! Nothing is stopping you from doing the same or telling someone else, that they do not know ALL African-Americans, so why do they think they are superior. I think you are intimidated, and what is really happening, is that you are finding your backbone to be able to stand up for yourself against an arrogant immigrant. That’s fine, but know they are not just going to take it, so be prepared to support your claims respectfully or you will not get anywhere with any immigrant. You could also just choose to ignore them. They are not going anywhere, so it’s not as if you can wish us away. You can either learn to get along, or live in misery everytime you are around us/them.

I didn’t have the same experiences that Cee did to some extent. I did not speak with an accent and I am mostly not ever mistaken for being a child of immigrants. SO NO, I do not enjoy the “luxury” of being seen as different from black Americans. I was accused of being too white by illiterate black Americans, but apparently so were all of the black women here, who went to school and got good grades, and spoke properly. So why are you soo amazed by Cee’s experiences? As you are tired of hearing immigrants talk about how superior they are, I am tired of sitting among a group of African-Americans who are going out of their way to insult my people, w/o knowing I am a child of immigrants. I am not even sure if your response is even logical.
This statement: ”Yeah, this subject touches a raw nerve. It's like someone coming into your house and putting their feet on your coffee table after you waxed it.”

Is very characteristic of xenophobes…this is not your house, I am free to be here, and there were black immigrants here who fought alongside their American counterparts for civil rights during the civil rights movement, so why all the anger now? So, some person said they were better than you…did you have to buy it? So, some person equated you to an uneducated, ghetto, whore…did you need to acknowledge them? NO!! They are free to say what they want, and your moaning and groaning over it, only proves their point. A more sophisticated response would be to temper their accusations of inferiority, by directing them to the latest book out on the accomplishments of black America, or to respond to them right away with shock and insult. I was insulted by a Malawian recently (who ID’d me as a typical American), and implied that I was undereducated. I quickly told this man he does not know me (and no I did not choose to mention my ethnicity), and I may have not known what he was talking about at the time, but his arrogance was equally as ignorant. I also told him, that if he wanted to explain it to me, then fine, but I would not sit there and be insulted by some buffoon, who was looking for a sucker. Recently, I was also insulted by a Caribbean cab driver, who began to yell at me out of place. I quickly told that man, that I am not his child, and do not dare talk to me out of place as if I am some street urchin. In addition to telling him off, I also did not have to verbalize that I was not leaving a tip, as I angrily passed him back his signed credit receipt, the proof was in the pudding. If I were you, I would not have dignified that man with a response. I would have politely sat in that cab, asked him for his cab no. so I could report him later (which would have been clear w/o having to say I was), and not left a tip after paying for my fare. Enough said, more than enough done. It is a fact of life, that people will try and insult you regardless of race, ethnicity, etc., and you are going to have to defend yourself more intelligently, if you really want to make an impact.

In the end, this is all a bunch of foolishness, which you are choosing to fight with more foolishness.

Anonymous said...

A little off topic but I notice a lot of black women travelling alone in foreign countries. This site will hopefully give you all some insight and travel tips.

http://www.ricksteves.com/graffiti/graffiti15.html

PattyM said...

It's interesting how people who have 'a ten minute' history in this country feel free and qualified to 'explain' to African Americans that we don't have any distinct culture or traditions, and adding a deep,deep insult, insinuate that we really weren't directly responsible for causing civil rights legislation to be enacted in this country. WOW, just WOW. When I think of what African Americans went through to gain basic rights and how our struggles and culture have had a profound effect on this country and beyond... The hubris! It's really incredible to me.

Aimee said...

EmergingPhoenix said...

@Aimee – You said:

“Let me ask you this: what is the culture of Jamaica? Isn't it really just an extension of the culture of England, that has the unfortunate burden of oppression?

I'm sure you would find such a suggestion absurd, and not merely because Jamaica and Britain occupy different pieces of geography.”

Aimee, you are right to add in that Jamaica and the UK occupy different areas on the map. In fact, the UK is across the big pond from us, so really your analogy doesn’t apply. I feel this comment is rash and does not come from a place of interest, but reproach.


My point is simply to note that Jamaica was founded as a British colony by British imperialists who wiped out much of the native population and imported African slaves to labor on their behalf--just as they did in the U.S. I'm not sure how it is rash or reproachful to find it curious that someone whose roots are in such a place can come to another such place and ask "isn't your culture really just an extension of English culture with an unfortunate burden of oppression"? How is that question any less valid for a Jamaican than for an American?

I asked you a question that was no different than the one you asked me--but you became offended, and that was exactly the point I was making. Black Americans are never supposed to be offended, no matter how we are insulted or belittled, no matter what kind of willful ignorance of our culture, history and heritage we are approached with. You felt comfortable asking me a question that made you label me a "neo-Nazi immigrant basher" when I asked it of you. And I am supposed to now abandon the discussion altogether because you identify your tolerance for it as low?

As I said in my post, I know that I am staking out the ultimate in unpopular opinions--that there is an almost emotional need in many peoples in this country to feel free to denigrate black Americans with impunity and without challenge--that doing so is in many ways a "bonding experience" that allows other people to come together as "Americans." But that doesn't mean I have to cooperate with it. I don't think anything I've said here about immigrants or anyone else has been degrading, unfair, or untrue, and that certainly hasn't been my intention. I hope I haven't offended you, because that wasn't my purpose.

gatamala said...

ep~

yes, I do hate the air of superiority from ANYONE. I grew up with white folks & went toe to toe with them my entire life. I also grew up with Asians and have had explain to them too. I have had to break it down for Latins, Europeans (of all shades). But you know what? I actually do have a higher standard for black immigrants. Why wouldn't I? I know what others think, and to a large extent they are irrelevant. I do feel some concern for other black people by sheer virtue of their blackness. So when someone comes to my country, black as the ace of spaces ("we" say that, relax), parroting Rush Limbaugh...yeah I'm gonna be pissed! You'd think that those who were slave descendants, distant cousins of slave descendants would know better.

My point is this. As an American whose family has fought for America from the Civil War to Persian Gulf, I am tired of having to fight for basic human dignity and respect every time someone walks down the gangplank. You said yourself that you've experienced this when you were mistaken for one of us. You said that at that time you didn't take opportunity to "correct" him. Good! That's one. Now, if the rest of the folks would do that we'd be in business..

The furniture metaphor refers to the respect and gratitude an immigrant SHOULD have when coming to this country. All platitudes & Emma Lazarus poems aside (which black & Native Americans know to be bs), no nation HAS to accept anybody. It makes a conscious decision who it accepts. pre-CR movement, it exercised disretion towards whites. Thanks to the efforts of my parents/grandparents generation the climate of race-based discrimination started to change, allowing for immigration that included colored folk.

Just as I am on my best behavior abroad (I'm actually bilingual), I accept the newer Americans to be on even better behavior - b/c they are staying here.
_______________

pattym ~ the hubris is definitely astounding. SOME Black Americans need to sit back, realize what folks really think of them and adjust their lifestyles and voting patterns accordingly.


Aimee~ I realize that this post has taken a negative turn. I accept my responsibility in that and apologize.

gatamala said...

accept ^^expect

Anonymous said...

knockoutchick says:

As an AA who has many African and Carib born friends... I always seem to have to remind them, that the majority of Africans in our group clearly come from middle and upper class back grounds.

Therefore I have found that people who have the drive to travel to another country, continent and culture far from thier own and start a new life...tend to be the most talented or driven of that group. It is not the local bozo on the corner in Lagos whose parents and family will support and give money for him to travel and study in the US or the UK...it is the brightest of the bright or the wealthiest that makes it to Europe or the States...as Africa is very far indeed. For the Carib, it is different.

Certainly, it does appear we do have some local do nothings from the DR, PR and Jamiaca who have ended up in the States. But that's another story.

So I see people from immigrant families who are the "bright lights" of thier communiies...and as one poster says may end up living in a poor urban area here in the States, then they compare themselves to "Pookie" in front of the "likka sto" all day.

I have many arguments with African and Carib friends who say I am not like most American Blacks they know...and my response is... well you don't know that many AA!

I have had the old "boot strap" debate many times at dinner...and they have been heated!!!

I have one Nigerian GF from a diplomatic family that I argue with about this constantly. She has the gall to tell me again and again how she came here with nothing and pulled herself up by her boot straps. :-) She and I do battle! I have to keep reminding her...so HOW exactly did you get to the States. Oh, that's right diplomatic priviledge...ahhhhh right!!! Repeat that for me one more time.

And how many poor, not well connected Nigerians would have loved to be here in her place???? Hmmmmm yet then she will make comments about Shenigqua on the corner. Lawdy!

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

I'm so sick and tired of the Caribs and the Africans coming on black American forums touting their supposed superiority.

As I said in my original post, I sincerely and genuinely think it's great that they are proud. I hope they carry that pride with them when they deal with people other than black Americans, but it isn't their pride I have a problem with.

I have a problem when they object to our pride, and insist that we have nothing to be proud about, and when they object to the very same critical analyses that they are quick to apply to black Americans being applied to their cultures and societies. If the ultimate goal is mutual respect and understanding, it has to start there.

gatamala said...

KOC~I live in DC. Diplomatic status is a sweet plum! That's funny!


when they object to the very same critical analyses that they are quick to apply to black Americans being applied to their cultures and societies

EmergingPhoenix said...

@Aimee - I did not become offended when you implied that we are of British culture. I am not sure if you read all that I wrote. I actually agreed that of course they influenced our culture. I think you need to reread what I wrote. Other than that, I think you all are welcome to your anger. My only advice to you, is to just stand up for yourself. Repsectfully, of course, b/c you will alienate a person like me, and I think it is safe to say that would not be wise. With that I am going to leave this thread and let you all vent.

BrownSugar said...

gatamala and pattym...I back everything you say 100%. "hubris" doesn't even begin to describe it. I won't say much anymore on the subject than I said in my anon post(Gatamala and Aimee responded to it) above because I have a tendency to get really pissed off about the subject of immigrants from 3rd world countries trying to insult me, as a black American woman. I love Aimee's blog and don't want to get banned.

njari said...

@Aimee - I did not become offended when you implied that we are of British culture. I am not sure if you read all that I wrote. I actually agreed that of course they influenced our culture. I think you need to reread what I wrote. Other than that, I think you all are welcome to your anger. My only advice to you, is to just stand up for yourself. Repsectfully, of course, b/c you will alienate a person like me, and I think it is safe to say that would not be wise. With that I am going to leave this thread and let you all vent.



Funny how you demand a respectful response when yours have been anything but. You make the claim that African Americans basically have no culture. Now who woudnt be angry, as you claim we are, if an outsider basically stated that they had no culture? This is something that black immigrants claim about AA's time and again, yet seem confused by the angry reaction they receive. Its amazing how an outsider feels so equipped to analyze and determine who and what we are. But I'm sure you dont feel that your analysis is rooted in arrogance. You reduce ebonics to something AA's learned from southern whites ( when there are studies that provide evidence that it is also somthing that slaves learned as a transition from an African language to English, there are remnants of Bantu speech patterns) Then you make the claim that it would be unwise to alienate someone like you. Why bcs AA's will be dependant on Black immigrants and their children in the future and need to curry their favor? You are the exact type of person that aimee is talking about and you dont even know it! Here is an article that is food for thought. It certainly puts things in perspective : http://www.gladwell.com/1996/1996_04_29_a_black.htm

njari said...

Here is the full link for the article in case the one above didnt work. You'll have to copy and paste it into the browser :

http://www.gladwell.com
/1996/1996_04_29_a_black.htm

D said...

Hi, Aimee, and everybody...

Your point, as I understand it, is that "...black American pride has become an unpopular opinion..."

In the way you laid it out, there is kind of a dichotomy between two choices... either be proud, with all the psychological benefits that offers... or be mad as hell, to remind you you're not where you want to be.

I don't want to take away from the validity of either one of those approaches... both have a following, and justification.

I've been reading a little on Zen Buddhism recently, and it would seem Zen offers a third way.

The biggest part of Zen is being aware of the present moment... the past and future only are relevant to the degree they are helpful to the present.

So let's say you set a goal, and because you're wise, it's a good and attainable goal. Conventional American self-help wisdom would have us constantly re-reading the goal, and using it as a carrot to draw toward when we lose our motivation.

Others would start thinking of 29 reasons why the system is not fair, and envisioning 43 roadblocks between us and the goal, which "they" should remove before we start, else our efforts may be futile.

Zen is very different from both of those... yes, you still make that wise and achievable goal... and yes, it occupies that "goal" spot in your brain, or on your to-do list... but the main focus is on this VERY moment... My thoughts RIGHT NOW. My actions RIGHT NOW. What I say RIGHT NOW.

And if you can mix an awareness of right now with your wisdom... then you will know when to move, and know when to stay still. Know when to fight, and know when to hide. And you realize you have a choice, in THIS moment, what to do, to pursue what goals. Or to rest if needed (and sometimes rest is the best thing).

So... once you post your goal on the refrigerator, and being able to recall what has worked and not worked for you in the past, re: actions, and environment... you would only flit to the future and past as needed for reference, and even then, it's with the awareness you're still in the present.

The "live in the moment" thing... that's Zen. What's going on around me, and what am I doing? Not tomorrow, or yesterday... now.

And, supposedly, once you figure this out... you realize that "now" is flowing... there is a conversion of the future to the past that never stops... but the ONLY area where you have any control at all is in the moment. The only way you can get something done is by doing it in the present. Only now is touchable... actable.

And supposedly, pride and/or low self-esteem both become kind of moot. In other words, if you are just BEING yourself... then pride is an abstraction of yourself that distracts from this moment, as is also the flip side, low self-esteem. What you focus on, and find joy in is in the moment, moment by moment.

And supposedly, even your most horrible day ever isn't so bad if you live it moment by moment without projecting negativity from what did happen, or what might happen.

So back to the theme of the post... that it's not popular to be proud to be black... as if you're not drawing enough attention to the plight of the community if YOU are too positive.

The same thing applies to white men, but kind of in reverse... I don't see any time in the forseeable future when me having pride in white male-ness will get a warm fuzzy response from everyone I meet. But on the other hand, I refuse to feel guilty about it. It's pointless.

So it's a thing of focus. I don't need either pride or shame in being a white male, because they are mostly used as projections of something from the past or in the future... right here and now, I am just living, and doing the right thing to the best of my ability : )

---------------------------------

I would say that those who give you a hard time about your pride are probably stuck in somewhat of a "victim" mentality. And that is just not productive, generally - So to the extent that plays out, I agree with you... pride is better than focusing on how we fall short. Failure is just a lesson of what not to do next time.

Anyway, it's bedtime. Ciao. : ]

D

Grata said...

In peace I come.(any rebels out there hold your fire!)

I am African and I am truly outraged at the assumed superiroty of the "other" blacks.

It is very simple, the origin of AAs is in Africa and the continued survival of the whole black race especially in the Western Hemisphere is owed to AAs. The "other" blacks that don't get that are lacking crucial mental abilities.

Not that I am a saint, my original attitude was the same. But with time, one should learn, that coming from a different background, however poor, is advantageous from being born black in America in numerious ways, most important of which are psychological. So all that crapy talk about pulling yourself by the bootstraps works for mostly non AAs, though AAS have impressively pulled through one of the toughest challenges to plague a race and their achievements are not small either.

I like to ask most of these "superior" immigrant blacks, what in their opinion, do they consider are the contributions of AAs in America, the world and indeed the human race?

I think the picture of the world would look very different if slavery had never happened.

These blacks IMO are worse than well known hate groups because those hate groups do have the interest of their own race at heart.

Anonymous said...

Aimee, i generally enjoy your blog and find your wisdom on various issues refreshing. I have to point out with regards to this article that it reflects Amero-centrism to a ridiculous degree. African Americans really do not have it that good compared to some black people elsewhere and are certainly not the highest earning or most educated or priviledged of any black group on the planet. THAT, my friend, is a myth.

I love that you are proud of your heritage that is important but it is foolish to elevate oneself above another to feel good about yourself.

I am an African who has lived in the US for nearly a decade and is now back in Africa. I make more money for my qualifications than I ever did in the US. My house is better. I drive a better car. I have a better quality of life. I am private school educated, have travelled world over, have a post-graduate qualification, have PhD's for parents.. all this and I am African - living on the poorest continent on God's earth. And no, my father was not in any way linked to a corrupt government.. my parents worked hard for what they have, as have I.

I don't point this out to brag - but more to bring to your attention, that your circumstances and mine are individual... and one cannot extend one's opinion to a segment of any population to the entire group.

African Americans are not the best lot of blacks on this planet. Some are rich, some are poor, some are drug dealers and whores, others a lawyers.

It is high time Americans in general get over their being on top of the world. Every nation has problems, a good side and a bad one.

I could ramble. But I will stop here. I am sure I have made my point.

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

I have to point out with regards to this article that it reflects Amero-centrism to a ridiculous degree. African Americans really do not have it that good compared to some black people elsewhere and are certainly not the highest earning or most educated or priviledged of any black group on the planet. THAT, my friend, is a myth.

Okay. Data?

I love that you are proud of your heritage that is important but it is foolish to elevate oneself above another to feel good about yourself.

In what way did I do that?

I am an African who has lived in the US for nearly a decade and is now back in Africa. I make more money for my qualifications than I ever did in the US. My house is better. I drive a better car. I have a better quality of life. I am private school educated, have travelled world over, have a post-graduate qualification, have PhD's for parents.. all this and I am African - living on the poorest continent on God's earth. And no, my father was not in any way linked to a corrupt government.. my parents worked hard for what they have, as have I.

I think that's wonderful.

I don't point this out to brag - but more to bring to your attention, that your circumstances and mine are individual... and one cannot extend one's opinion to a segment of any population to the entire group.

But even individual circumstances reflect group experiences. As I'm sure you are aware, no one becomes either a "success" or a "failure" in a vacuum.

African Americans are not the best lot of blacks on this planet.

I never said we were, and I wouldn't even know how to judge what would make a group of people the "best lot of blacks on this planet." I spoke simply about levels of wealth, levels of income, and levels of educational attainment, all easily measurable lifestyle variables. I certainly wouldn't argue that Luxembourgians are the "best lot of white people on this planet" because they have the highest income.

It is high time Americans in general get over their being on top of the world. Every nation has problems, a good side and a bad one.

Again--I don't buy into the liberal white American guilt about being ashamed to acknowledge the good in our culture because there is also bad. I never denied either; I simply acknowledged my pride in the good, just I have many times pointed out my disgust with DBR behavior and other "bad."

Sandra said...

I think some black immigrants and children of black immigrants feel somewhat disappointed in the lack of progress made by so many AA's. AA's live in one of the richest countries in the world, with access to free education, libraries, internet, television, etc., yet have so many enduring problems, some of which seem to be partly of their own making, and many of which seem to have gotten worse, rather than better, since the Civil Rights movement. I think what some Caribbean and African immigrants are expressing is more of a disappointment/disillusionment with the lack of progress that AA's have made, rather than "superiority" in the way that American whites sometimes feel superior to AA's. There is just this feeling among many Caribbean and African immigrants that they would have done so much more with the opportunities available to AA's in the US, racism notwithstanding. That's just my take on this "phenomenon".

Aimee said...

Sandra said...

I think what some Caribbean and African immigrants are expressing is more of a disappointment/disillusionment with the lack of progress that AA's have made, rather than "superiority" in the way that American whites sometimes feel superior to AA's. There is just this feeling among many Caribbean and African immigrants that they would have done so much more with the opportunities available to AA's in the US, racism notwithstanding.

That might be a perfectly fair observation if those making it were willing to apply the same analysis to their own societies--colonialism and imperialism notwithstanding, is it not "disappointing" and "disillusioning" that Africans and Caribbeans have not made greater progress in creating the same opportunities in their own countries that they seem to believe that "so many" black Americans are supposedly squandering here? After all, how did all of these wonderful opportunities that black Americans are failing to take advantage of come to exist? Out of thin air? Without any effort or contribution by black Americans at all?

My take on the phenomenon is that it doesn't make sense to be "disappointed" by what you see here if you are incapable of turning a critical eye at what you felt compelled to leave behind; it just makes you look like a hypocrite.

That kind of one-sided critique does nothing to advance anyone: you don't help your own people, and obviously, black Americans aren't likely to turn to new arrivals, whose knowledge and understanding of the culture is necessarily limited, for insight into improving what needs to be improved here.

Daphne said...

My take on the phenomenon is that it doesn't make sense to be "disappointed" by what you see here if you are incapable of turning a critical eye at what you felt compelled to leave behind; it just makes you look like a hypocrite.

Exactly. That seems to be missing among the few non-American blacks I've encountered who have expressed similar thoughts. As Aimee stated, the opportunities available here came from past blacks who fought (hard) for them. For a non-American black to come to the U.S., take advantage of said opportunities all the while espousing their "critical analysis" of American blacks and ignoring the irony of it makes no sense to me. And it certainly begs the question - why hasn't there been more progress made in other countries included the African Disapora?

Sandra said...

There is merit to the observation regarding the state that many Caribbean countries and African countries are in. But I think an essential distinction is the difference in available resources, especially the inherently limited resources available on a small island in the Caribbean versus the comparatively vast resources of a country like the US.

Aimee said...

Sandra said...

There is merit to the observation regarding the state that many Caribbean countries and African countries are in. But I think an essential distinction is the difference in available resources, especially the inherently limited resources available on a small island in the Caribbean versus the comparatively vast resources of a country like the US.

But the compartively vast resources of the U.S. must also support a comparatively vast population, while the comparatively limited resources of smaller countries generally support comparatively smaller populations. At the same time, being small and having limited resources does not appear to have undermined the growth of say, Japan, or Switzerland.

Nor are national resources simply either laying around on the ground, waiting to be picked up and exploited, or wholly absent; they are the creation of labor and ingenuity. Black Americans were not just plopped down in a resource-rich country and then handed our share of the pie--we helped to create this society's wealth, and we've had to struggle, both to share in the opportunities it offers, and to make those opportunities available to others.

This is not to say that St. Kitts or Aruba should have the economies of Japan or Switzerland, or any other elements of their experiences. This is not to compare them to these countries and find them wanting. I am not from any of these countries, and it is not my place to determine what they are doing "right" or "wrong," if anything.

This is only to point out that if the goal is to examine a society, a culture or a people in order to determine what they could be doing differently in order to improve their condition, that charity begins at home. You will never have greater insight into what a people other than your own can be doing better and how they can improve.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Aimee for making such a stark distinction and this is the one article that I feel that speaks to me.

I come from Jamaican/Cuban immigrant and a mixed southern West Indian Background and I am privy to *some* (note the qualifier) the nefarious, opportunitistic and hypocritical attitudes of Caribbean and African immigrants and it does bother me. Africa is so resource rich that it is mind boggling, yet their own native population is unable to exploit their riches and uplift their own country. Still it is perfectly acceptable to denigrate and belittle Black Americans for not doing the same.

I am continually amazed how FAR blacks have been able to progress that it is unprecedented in HUMAN history. Blacks were enslaved for over 300 years followed by over 100 years of Jim Crow apartheid system (I think the only group of people who understand the unique challenges of Black Americans are Black South Africans to an extent) that boggles the mind and it’s only within RECENT history, a mere 40-45 years after the passing of the Civil rights bill of the 60’s (crafted by majority Black Americans and Jews) and integration reforms that Blacks were able to make unparalleled progress. It should also be noted that the Immigration bill was passed in the 60’s as well, right on the heels of Blacks civil rights that ironically has given immigrants a unique opportunity to enter this country, thus without Black’s demand for civil rights, there would not be a plethora of African and Caribbean immigrants that enjoy the quality of opportunity today.

I am also appalled by the odious suggestions that Black Americans have a faux culture mired in White deviancy in language and thought. Granted Black music is a derivative from African beats, but Black Americans created American music with Jazz, Blues, R&B, etc from Paul Robeson, Sarah Vaughn, Dizzie, Armstrong, Monk, Miles Davis, Coltrane, etc etc. How is that not Black culture and thus American culture. Black American literature is a beacon of light and innovation with such greats as Langston Hughes, Lorraine Lansbury, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Audrey Lorde, Toni Morrison, August Wilson, James Baldwin, etc. etc. in which the use of colloquial language, the articulation of racism, personal hardships, identity, and haunting poetry, is part of Black Culture. Then there is Art with Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Basquait, Tom Feelings, Kara Walker, Ellis Wilson, Richmond Barthe (James Garner was his anonymous patron) Gordon parks, etc etc. These artists, creatives, and innovators drew from the Black American experience that defined their existence that help to create an idiosyncratic, dynamic culture that is resoundingly Black and alive with inspiration from many Black Americans like me. What continually amazes me how there is so many great artists that were able to produce art under levels of oppression, yet still envision hope and optimism in many of their works—which is undoubtedly an American trait.

So yes I like being a Black American and I am proud of such dynamic culture.

Grata said...

"Africa is so resource rich that it is mind boggling, yet their own native population is unable to exploit their riches and uplift their own country. Still it is perfectly acceptable to denigrate and belittle Black Americans for not doing the same".

Anonymous,

First of all, Africa is not a country. There are are over 50. The actual figure is not agreed on.
When you speak of resource rich, this applies to some and not all. Your argument would have been more enlightening if you had not gone out on an all out anti African tirade. I was with you up to a point.
One thing most people seem not to realize is that the challenges faced by AAs and Africans through out history are from the same source ie Europe. In America it is manifested as the struggle for equal rights and dignity and in Africa it is all the political mess that you see. If you understand the after effects of colonialism you would understand why a resource "rich country" like Africa is in the state it is in.

And please please, AAs and others, make an effort to understand atleast one African country before you try to assess the situation in Africa.
You mention S. Africa, same source of the problem manifested differently. Just because all African countries are now independent, they still have centuries to shake off the damage of colonialism which has now morphed into something else.

You mention the innovation of black music and give slight credit to the African influences. See the problem with people that try to make judgements on matters African is that they have little or no idea of what they are talking about.
I myself can't grasp the musical styles in my own country which has over 50 tribes. What does this have to do with music? Exactly this, every tribe has its style of music and dance that is unique to it. No two tribes share the same drum. It is amazingly diverse. You see it when you go through schools and see different kids performing their own thing.

I bet you if you got any style of American Black music,(except maybe for the latest styles like hip hop), you can trace its exact identical African style. You would not distinguish the old blues from my own tribal music. And yes we have our type of guitar called the Nnanga that sounds exaclty like the blues strings. I always wondered how it was possible that, that musical ability was carried on despite the circumstances. So don't be too quick to praise AA music "innovation".

If you atempt to understand at least one country, and in attempting to do so fail, you will end up way better informed.

And as for the African economic situation, most of you are being informed by your media. If there is anytime to completely doubt what the American media has to offer it is with foreign news in particular African news.
The misinformation is the reason many Americans believe Africa is a country like you just showed yourself.

Anonymous said...

Yes I was actually angry when reading this blog, so I used Country instead of continent. However it seems that once again, when I as a Black American voice my pride that I am told that I should know of what I speak and more pointedly that I don’t know what I am talking about. I don’t think my observations despite the injudicious use of words and hyperbole is any less valid therefore, I hope that you are willing to use the same tone when African and Caribbean’s utter the same ignorance regarding Black Americans and our supposed Faux culture that is an paltry imitation of Africa and this is stuff I heard many times growing up that it still makes my stomach turn when I think about it. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard us being called orphans, dregs, the weaklings that got themselves captured and dragged over to America from the likes of Nigerians, Somalians, Ethopians and yes even my own Jamaican relatives.

Grant it I am not from Africa, nor would I ever profess to be part of the African continent and of course I do not know every nuance of each African country, but the vast majority of the problems of civil strife in the slaughter in the Sudan by the likes of the Janjaweed, the child soldiers in Sierra Leone, and the entrenched difficulties in Nigeria and places like Angola is due to the resource riches that the elites are valiantly trying to control. It’s always interesting to me how Africans can guffaw at the laziness of Black Americans, however their own foibles despite their independence an majority strength is unique and special and Black Americans should deign to even voice any kind of commentary or critique on African and Caribbean’s special circumstance, but with black Americans, everyone can gleefully through mud on us.

I used South Africa as an illustrative point regarding apartheid, which does have similar elements to the Jim Crow debacle in the South and of which many of my relatives suffered under and who are still blighted by the kind of discrimination that they faced today. Yeah. Yeah I know what’s coming, it happen 30 some odd years ago, they should get over it. Nevertheless, Black South Africans have been very positive regarding the Black civil Rights and there have been activists like Randall Robison, among others, that protested vociferiously regarding the apartheid, thus my comparison, however much that may insult your intelligence, since I don’t know what I am talking about, it still stands.

The music comparison is valid and is something that I am versed in being as my father was a jazz aficionado and I lived around Jazz musicians growing up. Of course, I don’t know what part my great great great gareat grandparents came from, however most slaves transported to Caribbean and America came from West Africa, therefore I have acknowledged in my original post that the African influence is there, HOWEVER the music that Black Americans created is quite distinct, to me, from the original African sound. Coltrane and Monk are going to sound like Fela Kuti. Country music is American, but it you can hear the unique blend of African, European (Scottish and Irish) and Native American beats that is distinct from what would be heard in Britain. Black American Music and hence American music has the same kind of an amalgam of Native, European, and African roots, but Black Americans were the innovators that created a unique blend that can be heard in Jazz, R&B, etc, which is what culture is about and of which I believe Aimee has stated several times.


I will say again I am proud to be a Black American no matter how good or bad it all is. This is part of my culture and who I am.

However Aimee I will apologize to you for my strident tone. You have a great blog and I enjoy reading your perspective and I surely do not want to take away from what you are tying to do so this will be my last post.

Grata said...

"Grant it I am not from Africa, nor would I ever profess to be part of the African continent and of course I do not know every nuance of each African country, but the vast majority of the problems of civil strife in the slaughter in the Sudan by the likes of the Janjaweed, the child soldiers in Sierra Leone, and the entrenched difficulties in Nigeria and places like Angola is due to the resource riches that the elites are valiantly trying to control".

Anonymous,

I see you make no mention of the part played by the Western world in all these conflicts.

"I don’t know how many times I’ve heard us being called orphans, dregs, the weaklings that got themselves captured and dragged over to America from the likes of Nigerians, Somalians, Ethopians and yes even my own Jamaican relatives".

This is actually news to me. But I know it happens in the UK between West Indians and West Africans. I was always of the impression that those that played an active role in slaverly ie West Africans would have such attitudes to erase their guilt. I am surprised about Ethiopians and Somalis.

And by the way before Independence all the colonilized countries had apetheid of varying forms, all that ended with their independence. Only the older generations remember this.

If you really want to know the effects of colonialism and how that applies to the current situattion even for the places you mentioned, read about the Rwanda Genocide. One good book is A Conspiracy to Murder: The Rwanda Genocide. These people lived well together for over 5 centuries until the Germans and Belgians came.

How does interference with people's political systems work? Look at Iraq. It is very possible to construct complete chaos where there was none.

So yes, I do understand your outrage at the attitude from non American Blacks and do share that outrage too, however you can't counter it by pointing at their own shortfalls. It is pointless since our predicament has a similar source. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by trying to make each other feel less than.
AAs should be very proud, hell I am proud by color association myself. And for the non AA blacks who feel that need to demean AAs, I used to think they were stupid, but I think they are worse than that.

As for the music, I dont know too much African music beyond my own borders but from the little that I know of I can see various influences in Black music. And it is not restricted to West Africa. Rap for example is used to record history in my tribe.

And by the way there is African music I have heard that sounds like Irish fork and chinese music. This is a very extensive area that merits special study.

People like Quincy Jones have only recently come out to admit that they have been studying certain types of African music and dances for over 30 years. So are you going to call his innovation too?

Grata said...

"I don’t know how many times I’ve heard us being called orphans, dregs, the weaklings that got themselves captured and dragged over to America from the likes of Nigerians, Somalians, Ethopians and yes even my own Jamaican relatives".

Anonymous,

One last note. Up till now I have been looking at the bigger picture and accespting that non American blacks are less than courteous to AAs. However when I switch into small picture mode I realise that every African I know has a horror story experience with AAs in the work environment. Countless!

My self, I know that for sure if I go for a job interview and meet an AA, I have no chances. That has been my repeated experience. I was once forced to quit my job because of an AA supervisor that treated me unfairly over everyone else. Other people who didn't like him wanted me to report him for the harrassment so they could get rid of him. But one of my top rules is never to create a black on black scene. It is useless. I quit instead. A few months after that, he was fired. I am not sure why. I next met him at my new job where he came to see his W Wife and he was jobless.

And I get little support through my struggles with discrimination in the work place from AAs though they normally are fully aware of what was going on.
But I don't go around carrying a grudge against all AAs.

I get the feeling that some of you are so used to victimhood that you are ready to appoint an oppressor regardless of logic.

Just look at the bigger picture!

Grata said...

Anonymous,

And BTW all this without mentioning the continued degredation of Africans in AA entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I don't see any shortage of "pride" in the black community. In fact, I would say the opposite, way too much pridefullness.

And I find the debate between AAs and immigrant blacks amusing...all of us have been screwed by white supremacist systems whether it was slavery or colonialism so neither side needs to be pointing any fingers.

Grata said...

"And I find the debate between AAs and immigrant blacks amusing...all of us have been screwed by white supremacist systems whether it was slavery or colonialism so neither side needs to be pointing any fingers".

Good summary, crabs in a bucket syndrome.

However there are some people that wont let go of the victim state that they need to always have a perpetrator.
We got screwed, now what? Some African states some of you are criticising are making strides out of the marginalization. Those are stories you won't see on CNN.
The Nigerian con philososophy is, "we will take back everything they took from us plus some". Bad concept, but that is how they choose to deal with how they got screwed!
AAs are doing a great service to the race as a whole.
So the idea of one being greater than is all very stupid. And trying to make each other the oppressor , more so.

daphne said...

A couple of things -

anonymous, no one is pointing fingers. There are valid experiences on both sides of the equation, as grata and others have demonstrated. I don't think sharing those experiences equates to finger-pointing. It just means that people have experiences. I also don't think that asking questions can be equated to finger-pointing.

What I have gotten from this discussion is that neither side knows enough about the other side to provide accurate, critical analysis on its failings.

Grata, you make an excellent point - there are strides being made in the Africa and the Diaspora that I know nothing of because it's not reported. I will certainly not make any assumptions to the contrary due to lack of media exposure.

Aimee said...

Anonymous said...

Funny, I don't see any shortage of "pride" in the black community. In fact, I would say the opposite, way too much pridefullness.

I see plenty of people who take individual pride in their individual selves, very often based on what I would consider fairly dubious standards (such as their material possessions). But collective pride in their communities, in their history, in their culture? No. I don't see that.

Indeed, the pride I do see is often based in the belief that most blacks--both black Americans and black people universally--are vile and degraded, while the proud black individual is somehow superior, based on their distinction from other black people. I encounter black people, both from the U.S. and across the globe, who express tremendous pride in everything from their standard English-speaking skills, predomninantly white neighborhoods, loosely-textured hair, BMWs, preference for Bach--i.e., anything that they think somehow distinguishes them from the masses of other black people. However, I'm not sure how much that is really "pridefullness," or actually shame.

In any case, nothing I wrote was intended to be comparative. I didn't say black Americans should be proud because we are "better" than other black people, or "better" than anyone. My pride in my people comes from who we are and what we've accomplished in the face of adversity--period.

It is not a judgment on anyone else or their culture or what they have accomplished. It is not a statement that somehow no other blacks should be proud. It is not as if pride is some finite resource that black Americans are going to take too much of and leave too little behind for everybody else. I think it should be possible for people to have pride in who they are and where they come from without a debtate ensuing or without pointing fingers at each other, and I think there's a problem when that isn't the case.

Yan said...

Aimee,
I never heard anyone besides white men say they are not allowed to have pride in their racial heritage so it took me a while to grasp the concept.

...the proud black individual is somehow superior, based on their distinction from other black people...anything that they think somehow distinguishes them from the masses of other black people. However, I'm not sure how much that is really "pridefullness," or actually shame.

All too true.
___________________

D,
Good luck with your zen practice.

___________________

Grata,
I live in the DC area and there are a LOT of Africans here from Ghana, Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Somalia and also many West Indians. There were just as many members of those nationalities at my last 2 jobs as there were AA's and we were all able to get along with no problems.
AAs and Africans/W. Indians don't always have to be at odds.

Anyway, I agree that both American-born blacks and immigrant blacks are in some ways in the same barrel. There is an article about how white people use the model minority myth to promote discrimination. I think everything in this article can be applied to how black immigrants are pitted against native blacks in this racist system. It really doesn't do anything but divide us and keep us from focusing on the things that oppress us both.

How Whites Use Asians to Further Anti-Black Racism
http://modelminority.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=166

Anonymous said...

daphne said
anonymous, no one is pointing fingers. There are valid experiences on both sides of the equation, as grata and others have demonstrated. I don't think sharing those experiences equates to finger-pointing. It just means that people have experiences. I also don't think that asking questions can be equated to finger-pointing.


I disagree. At least one person has signed off this thread because they thought folks were being xenophobic.

I also think many immigrant blacks seem to have been privileged in their home countries which enables them to come here or very industrious...so comparing ALL AAs to immigrant blacks is kind of apples and oranges... poor and/or lazy immigrants don't (can't) come to the U.S. for the most part.

Anonymous said...

"it still makes my stomach turn when I think about it. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard us being called orphans, dregs, the weaklings that got themselves captured and dragged over to America from the likes of Nigerians, Somalians, Ethopians and yes even my own Jamaican relatives. "

Anon, don't get all in a knot ... their statements are laughable given that black Americans by themsleves are the world's 10th largetst economy.

Grata said...

"I live in the DC area and there are a LOT of Africans here from Ghana, Liberia, Congo, Sudan, Somalia and also many West Indians. There were just as many members of those nationalities at my last 2 jobs as there were AA's and we were all able to get along with no problems".

I will take your word for it since I don't know the people you worked with. As matter of fact I have a close relative in Maryland that was forced to start her own medical practise because she couldn't take the pressure any more from her work mates at the hospital who happened to be AAs.

Question, if you didn't communicate closely with these Africans, how would you know? Remember there are certain groups that just lay low and get what they need and leave.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every African I have met has had an encounter. And it is now common knowledge with in the various African communities that it is a common experience.

Thing is, Africans don't have a voice and cannot unite since they come from varying groups and countries. It is unrealistic to expect them to act as a group, but their issues are the same. And apparently they are not that pressing for them to be very proactive since their priorities are else where (their homelands).

The consolation at the back of a typical African's mind is that this is temporary, so they can take all the crap they can to pay school fees for children and build their communities back home. So a rough encounter with an AA is simply something to brush off and move on, not dwell on. That does not mean that it does not happen.

And the place of work you mention, the numbers may have been to the Africans' advantage. It is different if you are by yourself.

***********************************
"I also think many immigrant blacks seem to have been privileged in their home countries which enables them to come here or very industrious...so comparing ALL AAs to immigrant blacks is kind of apples and oranges... poor and/or lazy immigrants don't (can't) come to the U.S. for the most part".

Anonymous,

I agree with you for the most part.
Only that some poor ones do make it. Some students that are brilliant tend to get scholarships and they are not always rich.

Some poor people too use alot of trickery and cheating and do get here. They are just not lazy for sure. I agree with the whole model minority myth used against blacks. The book "The Ethnic Myth" elaborates this perfectly.
(I actually have posted about this very issue on my blog).

Just as you have white privilage, Immigrant blacks esp Africans (except South Africans) have the privilage of not growing up 'directly' in a White Supremist system that tells them that they are the last in everything. And that is a MAJOR advantage. So if you got any traditionally raised African from any background, they have higher chances of succeding than an AA from a similar background simply because they don't have that mental huddle to over come.
I have seen this work very clearly in education. I always enter a class and there are atleast5 other blacks. Usually the AAs have a strong start at the semester and appear to be way ahead of me in the subject. We are talking physics, math, chemistry. By the end of the Semester, I am usually the last one standing. When I meet them later, they have no good reason except, 'Man, I didn't think I was going to make it". I see this EVERY semester. And I blame it on socialisation, the inability to over come challenges and self confidence.

You notice their ego deflated when they do poorly on a test and many never recover from that. Now if you go through an African system, you know it is time to burst your brains and there is no other way. And there is always the option to repeat. This is what I mean by a major psychological advantage.
I don't see that some one else by virtue of race is smarter than me, Hell NO!
I don't care how hard a subject appears, a human being just like me came up with that stuff. And if they could, so can I grasp it if I want to. Its as simple as that for me.

***********************************

"Anon, don't get all in a knot ... their statements are laughable given that black Americans by themsleves are the world's 10th largetst economy".

I think AAs just need to travel alot more. If they did they would discover that the rest of the world has a much better impression of them than Americans at home have. You would be surprised. I keep hearing AAs saying, "the world has this very negative image of us because of the media blah blah blah!" But if you travelled widely you would be surprised. Even in europe, the picture is different. Over there its the Africans that get beat. Some times for good reasons (read Nigerians-and I love Nigerians BTW)
Though not to the extent that AAs get it in America.

This link should be of interest to some of you.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/127

Grata said...

Sorry,
here it is again

http://www.ted.com/index.php/
talks/view/id/127

Evia said...

My pride in my people comes from who we are and what we've accomplished in the face of adversity--period.

I TOTALLY agree, Aimee. Never has any group done so well with so little as AAs have done. And this gives me tremendous pride in myself as an AA. No matter who I marry or where I may live, or how much money I may have, I will always be proud to have come from the line of people that I did. I've taught my children to be tremendously proud of their AA ancestry and to always defend it, no matter who may try to slam it.

When I was married to a Nigerian man, some continental African folks would say things to me like, "You're acting like a Nidja (Nigerian) woman!" This comment was supposed to be a positive one, a compliment--AS IF I should be happy to be seen as something other than what I am. I would smile and always correct them by pointing out that "I will never be a Nigerian woman and I wouldn't want to be. I'm an AA woman, just like my mother, grandmother, and all of my other female ancestors who were subjected to the most horrific system of slavery ever--chattel slavery--BUT still THEY ROSE! And because they rose, I continue to RISE!"
LOL!!
Well, that would give them a little history lesson and let them know that I don't intend to be disconnected from my AA ancestors. LOL!
I have great respect for African culture and love my African in-laws and was very enriched and broadened by the numerous experiences I had in Nigeria and living in the midst of them in this country, HOWEVER I never allowed Africans to wear a halo with that superiority attitude that "some" of them had of them being so 'well-read' (educated) and successful here as opposed to AAs. I used those opportunities to point out to them that if not for AAs, they'd never have been able to get into the colleges and universities here and get the jobs or benefits they've derived from this society. AAs are the ones who make it comfortable for them to stay here. We're the ones who knocked down those university and job doors (not just for Africans, but Asians, ww too, etc.) AA's are the blacks here who absorb the bulk of white hatred from racist white folks. Not even 100 doctorates in electrical engineering protects any African from racist white folks; it's the presence of AAs here who do that because racist whites don't care how many degrees any black person might have or where they came from.

Not judging the two experiences, but I'd also point out to them that unlike their experiences during colonialism, we were totally disconnected from our language, culture, family members, identity, names, often brutalized and treated like things on the daily, BUT despite that legacy, despite all of those losses and all the hits we've taken and continue to take--just look at what we've accomplished in this society and just think about how we've made life better for so many other groups of people here. Just show me any other group of people in history who've endured these hits and losses and continue to function as well as we do.

Well, by the time I'd get finished, some of them would actually support me totally and say that instead of Africans expecting much of AAs in this hostile society, AAs should be looking to Africans for great accomplishments in Africa because Africans have never been separated from their cultural traditions, language, family, etc.

In general, I think these discussions are divisive and if people (on both sides) don't know much about the other group aside from what they've been spoon-fed, then they should start reading voraciously about that group and/or go live among them, OR keep their mouths shut.

felicia said...

Ohh Lordy Jesus! I just LOVED your post Evia.

I just had to say that. I feel the same way.

People have to be willing to brake down those barriers on a one on one basis.

And if their not, they need to keep their prejudiced assumptions to themselves.

In the end, we all - regardless of which culture (or blend of cultures) we belong to - are really individuals.

And should be treated as such.

If someone is too dense to realize that, they're not worth ones time anyway.

Anonymous said...

I think AAs just need to travel alot more. If they did they would discover that the rest of the world has a much better impression of them than Americans at home have.

Traveling would open up AAs eyes in so many ways. We are so parochial and proud of it. I can't tell you how many folks I know that barely leave the few blocks around their house let alone travel to another country.

It would also give us some perspective on our situation in this country and just how American we really are.

Grata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grata said...

Well, by the time I'd get finished, some of them would actually support me totally and say that instead of Africans expecting much of AAs in this hostile society, AAs should be looking to Africans for great accomplishments in Africa because Africans have never been separated from their cultural traditions, language, family, etc".

Evia,

Personally I agreed with you long before you posted. Some Africans do get it. Others are either too dense or simply dense.

Those cultures and traditions you speak of that should help with propelling accomplishments were messed up by the distortion of age old functional systems during colonization. Just as the AAs have to struggle with racism to the benefit of everyone else, Africans are trying to reverse the damages of colonialism. This will take centuries.

Imagine a scenario were you have a 1000 yr Kindgom with its functioning system being overrun and its land and properties left in the hands of a foreigner to run at his own discretion. What do you think is going to happen? Or simply picture Iraq.

Now repeat this scenario at least 500 times (or more) and scatter the situation over the continent. What do you think the genocides are about?

So as much as you wish to be understood. It is important that AAs interested in such matters understand the realities.

***********************************
'Traveling would open up AAs eyes in so many ways. We are so parochial and proud of it. I can't tell you how many folks I know that barely leave the few blocks around their house let alone travel to another country'.

Surprisingly, in my experience the image on the continent of AAs is a good one. I am beginning to think that those Africans in America that acquire that superior attitude have seen their AA image bubble burst on reaching here.
I travelled europe before America and always had a postive image though I wasn't all that aware of the struggle.

On reaching America and first went to DC, I was shocked. I immediately saw that the blacks in America were a unique type. Without seeing or experiencing racism I saw the toll it was taking on the black person. By seeing the blacks for once I felt the force of racism and all the while I hadn't spoken to anyone yet. I wanted to return home the next day. Luckily I was there for only a month and returned home. No one understood why I would not stay in America. It took me 7 years to convince my self to return.

Two good reasons for AAs to travel.

1) They will see themselves in a much better light than they are used to.
2) To experience environments where skin color does not matter.(And hair!!!)

Those are experiences you can only get out of America. Which AA would not want a break ?

Yan said...

Grata,
I posted my experiences in the workplace to counterbalance the ones you wrote about which made it seemed the poor African immigrants are always at the mercy of persecuting native blacks in the workplace. Perhaps you did not mean it that way, but that is how it came across to me.

I get a bit tired of the "black people are horrible to work with" stereotype just as you are of the one where all Africans are painted as being full of contempt for black people.

Based on the high level of
socializing in and out of the office, and dating/marrying btw the two groups, I'd think it's safe to say that they did not have an adversarial relationship.

Question, if you didn't communicate closely with these Africans, how would you know? No, it never occurred to me to specifically ask them about how awful black people treated them when we were hanging out or working well together in our teams.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that every African I have met has had an encounter. And thus a stereotype was born that applies to all native-born black Americans. Probably every black person alive has had an encounter with a white person in the workplace but most would probably count it as an interpersonal issue btw two people rather than assume all white people were out to get them.

That does not mean that it does not happen.

Nor does it mean it happens every time.

Evia said...

On reaching America and first went to DC, I was shocked. I immediately saw that the blacks in America were a unique type.

Well "black" is a strictly a political definition here, as you know. Therefore the range of differences between us so-called "black" americans is ENORMOUS. Many Africans I've met can't quite grasp that there can be such big differences between us since most Africans in a particular ethnic group in Africa are homogenous in key ways. As I pointed out many times to my ex-husband, the ONLY thing that the majority of AAs have in common is that political definition that's been imposed on us.

As a matter of fact, I feel very comfortable relating to Africans because I know enough about the culture to know pretty much what I'm dealing with when I meet an Igbo, Yoruba, or Hausa person. This is not the case when I meet most AAs because every AA is quite different than the next AA and sometimes these differences are very critical differences--even within the same family. That shows the lack of control we had over our lives for most of the time we've been here and our inability to put in place and enforce any ongoing beneficial system of behaviors that might oppose those of the dominant culture. We still can't do this. For ex. Black folks--who used to tear up some butt just like Africans still do in Africa--can't even spank our kids any more here for fear of getting arrested.

Despite the lacks and losses, we've accomplished phenomenal things in this country for outselves and for others. When my ex-husband went down south with me to visit my family, he was in shock at the differences in behavior, the land and property ownership, the family values in operation and such that he saw among AAs. Seeing the black folks in DC, NYC, Philly, etc. is not a good example of what most AAs are like, yet this is the image you took away with you. Those big-city experiences have wrung a lot of the humanity out of too many black folks because it's a dog-eat-dog existence. For ex., one of the first things I learned upon arriving in NYC was not to smile and speak to anybody because a smile and any type of friendliness indicated that I, as a bf, could be easy prey. No one was there to protect me. So I had to stop smiling. I started looking mean and developed a cut-throat attitude just like everybody else--for self protection. LOL! So what other folks see when they see AAs acting "ill"--LOL!--is our adaptation to a horribly abnormal existence. Similarly it's like what's happened in big cities like Lagos where Africans can't trust each other anymore because they're all fighting for a few crumbs. There was a lot about how some of them behaved that I never understood. I couldn't understand why some of them did what they did to each other.

And just look at that Rwandan situation. How could the Hutus take machetes and chop up all of those young Tutsi children and kill almost a million Tutsis?!!!! I don't know all the whys and wherefores, but I do realize it's an extreme example of how any ethnic group or any race might react to a horribly abnormal existence.

Grata said...

"And just look at that Rwandan situation. How could the Hutus take machetes and chop up all of those young Tutsi children and kill almost a million Tutsis?!!!! I don't know all the whys and wherefores, but I do realize it's an extreme example of how any ethnic group or any race might react to a horribly abnormal existence"

Evia,

Thanks for your comprehensive response.
FIY, my heritage is Rwandese.But grew up else where.
Like 'black'. Hutu and Tustis are constructs of the colonialists. They never existed before the colonialists came. If you are interested just amazon any book on the the Rwandese Genocide and you will get to understand the dynamics of that particular conflict. After reading about it, you will understand how that can happen in any society however civilized one may claim even this particular one. Many people like to point to Rwanda yet the same happened in former Yugoslavia in the same time period. How about all the genocides on all continents?

And on Rwanda, no one seems to ever acknowledge how many 'hutus' were killed, or the 'tutsi's' that killed fellow Tutsi's. The Tutsi's that are currently plotting another civil war etc ( I am of mixed heritage BTW). And the one million figure is an exaggeration.

The Rwanda Kingdom was always ruled by waring clans (which are over 50). The tradition had always been to fight off the ruling clan and take over. Same as ancient Egypt. There is actually a strong link between the two.
Colonialisim magnified this effect by dividing the whole population into two groups and pitting them against each other. Remember colonialisim came last to Africa, by which time they had perfected the art. The environment and the diversity is what saved the Africans.

I will clarify on my first impression of blacks in America. Nothing they did gave me that impression. I had never seen a black person that seemed broken and lost. That was the feeling I got in DC, Indiana and Florida. Even Africans that have lived here long change and loose that confidence.
If you go to Britain or Africa you will instantly sense a difference just by looking at the black people before judging their different behaviors. One very simple visual difference that says alot is walking and posture.

This says tons about the person. The Samburu of Kenya take this very seriously. They claim that the animals in the wild can target you simply by your posture. If you lack confidence you are most likely to get attacked. But is you are up straight and confident looking , they will respect you.
Same in my tribe, holding your chin up is almost a requirement.


You rarely see an AA super confident man. When they attempt it is obviously fake and more machismo than real confidence. You have seen Nigerians, you know what I am talking about. They don't need to show it, its simply there.

When I first saw AA men, I had never seen men like that in my life and that is when I realized what racism and the legacy of slavery were all about. I just saw shells of men. And so was very discouraged and lost taste for the country.

AA men have fought a formidable battle but the price has been too high.

***********************************
"Probably every black person alive has had an encounter with a white person in the workplace but most would probably count it as an interpersonal issue btw two people rather than assume all white people were out to get them."

Yan,

How many times have you heard interperosonal issues btn whites and blacks or minor incidents attributed to racism? Countless I bet.
It would be false to deny the frequent use of the racist label from minor experiences that don't warrant that label.

I brought up the experience of Africans because the discussion was all about what the black immigrants are doing to offend the AAs etc to show that there is another part of the picture that should be known by those who feel victimised by the immigrants.

Just showing the reality of what is going on, otherwise you have people that are so comfortable being victims that they will switch oppressors at a whim however outlandish the prospect.

And like I said, Personally these experiences do not change the way I view AAs as a whole.

Evia said...

Like 'black'. Hutu and Tustis are constructs of the colonialists.

Yes, I think it would be wise if ALL members of these "constructed" black ethnic groups wherever we are in the world would keep this in mind and stop trying to wear a halo as some in this thread seem to be trying to do when they talk about AAs.

The vast majority of blacks presently alive are ALL "constructs" of a hellish experience--whether colonialism or slavery--so AAs are no more of a "unique" type than any other group of people who've gone through the type of holocaust we've been through and are still going through AND without our land, language, cultural traditions, family system, or even our names.

But when I hear Africans talk about the effects of colonialism in Africa, I'm seeing that having those things wouldn't have helped since y'all are here comparing colonialism to chattel slavery and talking about what AAs shoulda, coulda done better. With all of those advantages, why didn't Africans do better in your own house, on your own land, with your language, culture, family systems, etc? I think most rational people would expect MUCH MUCH better from Africans, having never lost those advantages I mean, than they would from a group like AAs who've endured chattel slavery and still accomplished so much in a hostile environment.

They never existed before the colonialists came. If you are interested just amazon any book on the the Rwandese Genocide and you will get to understand the dynamics of that particular conflict.

I have read and heard more about how the Europeans carved up Africa and the various conflicts than I even need to know, so I don't need to go to read anything more. I heard about all of this for years or like FOREVER whenever African men got together talking about politics.

After reading about it, you will understand how that can happen in any society however civilized one may claim even this particular one.

Unlike some people in this country, I KNOW we're just a hair away from a Rwandan situation here. You'll never hear me trying to make statements about any society being "civilized." That is yet an ideal that has never been actualized ANYWHERE.

Many people like to point to Rwanda yet the same happened in former Yugoslavia in the same time period. How about all the genocides on all continents?

It was all horrible and it's still horrible for the scarred survivors or the "shells" as you refer to AA men. And the focus was on black ethnic groups in this thread, so I didn't mention whites. If any white person came here with a delusion of superiority, I'd be too happy to point out their savagery too. There is nobody on this earth who I recognize as being superior to me or my ethnic group. There are no superior beings on this earth and any African or anyone else who walks around thinking they're superior is in the grips of a delusion.

And there are tons of Nigerian men with all of their confidence who still can't live in their own country and some of them in the USA are now painfully realizing that neither their degrees nor their confidence matters a whit to anyone. They now know they will never be able to live in their own country and that sobering bit of knowledge is causing some of them to look and feel like "shells"--just like you see in these AA men.

One thing that my Nigerian ex-husband and I never, ever did and one thing my present white husband and I never do is try to slam each others' etnhic group or "race" as has been tried in this thread. They know their people and I know mine. We're all--just people.

Grata said...

"And there are tons of Nigerian men with all of their confidence who still can't live in their own country and some of them in the USA are now painfully realizing that neither their degrees nor their confidence matters a whit to anyone. They now know they will never be able to live in their own country and that sobering bit of knowledge is causing some of them to look and feel like "shells"--just like you see in these AA men".

I think, I did mention that even Africans that live in the US too long do loose a part of them selves. Most of them find it hard to reassimilate into their home countries. That is very true. Back home we refer to them as wasted and spoilt.

"I have read and heard more about how the Europeans carved up Africa and the various conflicts than I even need to know, so I don't need to go to read anything more".

It never hurts to know more esp. judging from your previous post.

And when I say shells of men, Please don't try to take it out of context for dodgy motives. I simply mean that as an African born and raised. On first contact with American Black men I saw a definate difference. This simply means that as an African I immediately seek to identify the type of men I am used too. But one thing for sure is you sense something different and immediately, without anyone telling you, you know the cause.

That would be most traditionally raised Africans' perspective, whether you want to accept that or not. We don't see the AA label when we see black Americans the first time, we see tribes mates, distant realtives.

Growing up, it was common on school play grounds for kids to argue over which tribe AA actors in the movies belonged to. We claimed them for our selves. And then debates always broke out.
So a person like me comes with that mentality that AAs are part of us just to immediately face the reality. They are but then again they are not.

Evia said...

It never hurts to know more esp. judging from your previous post.

Likewise.

This simply means that as an African I immediately seek to identify the type of men I am used too.

Just as I compare some AA men of my generation with AA men of my father's generation and find most of this generation to be different. Obviously, they've had different experiences because people are mainly the product of their experiences. Likewise, there are differences between different cultures and ethnic groups for a variety of reasons--with the main one being their different experiences.

What you don't seem to be getting is that I, as an inclusive AA, also feel the definite difference and "cold" towards haughty-acting Africans and prefer to shun those who think--that because they get more degrees than AAs in electrical engineering and such, that--they are superior to me or are inherently smarter. LOL!! Getting a formal education does not make one superior or smarter; it's the appropriate application of knowledge (however you got it) that makes one wise or wiser, and I haven't seen where Africans have done that to any obvious extent in their home where they've had significant advantages. Yet those with their engineering degrees are here trying taking advantage of affirmative action programs that we "less-smart?" AAs have fought to get in a hostile environment and seemingly getting upset with AAs simply because we have not opened up more opportunities for them here. LOL!! I feel no affinity with those Africans just like you feel no affinity with AAs or the group you see as the shells.
I think that AAs on the whole reach out to Africans and try to speak up for and support Africa and African issues MUCH, MUCH more than the opposite.

But one thing for sure is you sense something different and immediately, without anyone telling you, you know the cause.

Whereas I have never understood why Africans think the way they do, I mean, like they're higher up simply because they get a degree in electrical engineering and such?????? My ex-husband even saw that type of baseless arrogance as a big problem among "some" Nigerians. That type of attiude could easily lead in some cases to ethnic cleansing, which could easily happen in Nigeria or any place where one group feels higher up than other groups. The Hausas in Nigeria definitely KNOW that. The point is that an arrogant attitude, especially when there's no basis for it, does not win friends.

We don't see the AA label when we see black Americans the first time, we see tribes mates, distant realtives.

Well, I thought/think of Nigerians as distant relatives too until I run into those who seem to think I would rather be a Nidja woman than an AA and other mindsets like that I ran into with some of them. I don't understand the logic of that kind of mindset.

Growing up, it was common on school play grounds for kids to argue over which tribe AA actors in the movies belonged to. We claimed them for our selves. And then debates always broke out.
So a person like me comes with that mentality that AAs are part of us just to immediately face the reality. They are but then again they are not.


I chalk it up to different experiences because I don't believe there are any inherent or essential differences between human beings on average.

Grata said...

"I haven't seen where Africans have done that to any obvious extent in their home where they've had significant advantages. Yet those with their engineering degrees are here trying taking advantage of affirmative action programs that we "less-smart?"

How many African countries have you been to? And having been to Nigeria, did you really get into the dynamics of the economy and how it operates? I personally haven't been to Nigeria and so can not speak for it.
However, some of you may be criticizing the roles of these Africans here, what many of you don't realize is that many African economies are being heavily supported by Africans in the Diaspora. Some are even running on just that. Our priorities are in our countries.
That security guard at your office has probably built a 5 bedroom house and is paying school fees for about 10 children. How many Americans are doing that?
(And those Nigerian Freud stars, where do you thik their money is going?)

A good example is Eritrea where the government has rejected foreign Aid and its citizens abroad pay a certain percentage from their earnings to their government for nation building. So there is alot you are not aware of. Being to one country tells you little about the other 50.


" AAs have fought to get in a hostile environment and seemingly getting upset with AAs simply because we have not opened up more opportunities for them here"

I have no words for this particular comment. I am left wondering which people you are meeting and talking to and if they are really Africans.

"LOL!! I feel no affinity with those Africans just like you feel no affinity with AAs or the group you see as the shells".

This is exactly what I meant by dodgy motives and false interpretations. How do you ever expect to have descent dialogue if you can not stay with in the boundaries of what is meant?


"I think that AAs on the whole reach out to Africans and try to speak up for and support Africa and African issues MUCH, MUCH more than the opposite"

You can not prove that. And I can not wholy disagree with it.

But, how do you expect Africans to reach out to you if in doing so you accuse them of acquiring a superiority attitude and are constantly degrading them in your media?

Also there is one interesting thing I have noticed with many,
( not all) AAs I have met.

The first thing they tell you is how mixed they are, part this, part that etc, in other words they are telling you the African that they are not like you,establishing distance). They are different and are proud of that difference which is Ok. Interestingly I have found that the ones that look obviously mixed are the least likely to flaunt their genetic credentials.

What they (I am different from you AAs) don't realize is that most traditional Africans don't care for racial mixtures.
When they get here they are establishing a new identity as black, so telling them how non black or non African you are is inconsequential to them, they just see a confused person.

"Whereas I have never understood why Africans think the way they do, I mean, like they're higher up simply because they get a degree in electrical engineering and such?????? "

Its elitism and it does not only affect Africans. Try indians.
The thing is education is the difference between abject poverty and a decent life. If you look at it that way you will understand why they value it so much. And it is power indeed, whether people want to accept that or not. He who has the knowledge has the power.

So for the average African that attainment is a very big deal. My particular tribe is notorious for that. But hey, they have alot of control as a result. So as much as you have the arrogance that is obviously distateful, their education is serving them. And personally I wouldn't mind if that culture spread into the Black diaspora. The Asian countries are relentless in this pursuit and they have gained leverage. So let us not throw out the baby with the bath water.

"Well, I thought/think of Nigerians as distant relatives too until I run into those who seem to think I would rather be a Nidja woman than an AA and other mindsets like that I ran into with some of them. I don't understand the logic of that kind of mindset"

I have to agree that Nigerians are unique. My sister worked over there for three years. I lived among them in the UK. They believe that they are it. The african/black standard. And we have to agree that they have some accomplishments among which is a space program. So they may have earned some bragging rights.

Evia said...

How many African countries have you been to? And having been to Nigeria, did you really get into the dynamics of the economy and how it operates? I personally haven't been to Nigeria and so can not speak for it.

I could just as well ask you what you're basing your generalizations about AAs on. I lived in and among Nigerians for years and in some key ways still live among them. EVERY Nigerian I know is multi-degreed and some of them are highly placed or are related to highly-placed ones. My ex-husband was an elite and we lived an elite life when we lived there. I constantly heard and still hear them talking MOSTLY about politics and finance. They don't have the rosy view that you have and ALL of the Nigerians I know are trying to get their relatives out of Nigeria by any means necessary. I have children (adopted due to an in-law's death) who I'm still trying to get out of there. I also know Africans from other places who are trying to get their relatives out of Africa.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa--by far--and the most educated and richest. There is no other black led country that even comes close. But there is a massive brain drain there. Trust. Those degrees are not helping them--except to flee. Now I know we can always blame de evil wm, but enough is enough.

However, some of you may be criticizing the roles of these Africans here, what many of you don't realize is that many African economies are being heavily supported by Africans in the Diaspora. Some are even running on just that. Our priorities are in our countries.

I criticize anyone who flaunts a superiority attitude that's based on a delusion.

That security guard at your office has probably built a 5 bedroom house and is paying school fees for about 10 children. How many Americans are doing that?

Who said anything about anyone sending money to Africa? Not me. I really don't care about who's sending money. It's a good thing to help your family. I send money to Nigeria myself to help.

Being to one country tells you little about the other 50.

I personally reference NIGERIA constantly.

"LOL!! I feel no affinity with those Africans just like you feel no affinity with AAs or the group you see as the shells".

This is exactly what I meant by dodgy motives and false interpretations. How do you ever expect to have descent dialogue if you can not stay with in the boundaries of what is meant?

What?!!! As I said in one of my initial comments, I don't think that most people of the various black groups can have a meaningful dialogue at this point because from just reading this thread, there is the usual discounting of AAs here and lack of knowledge. I admitted I don't know all the whys and wherefores. Besides, I don't even want to dialogue with someone who discounts me or my experiences and tries to act like they know my experiences better than I do. It's best for us to stay away from each other.


But, how do you expect Africans to reach out to you if in doing so you accuse them of acquiring a superiority attitude

I know when someone is expressing an attitude of superiority and I know when they're not. With the former ones, I quickly cut them down to size. I don't want any association with them, don't want to dialogue with them, because there'll be constant conflict. LOL! My policy is that If I can't get along with someone, it's best to avoid them--in order to prevent constant strife. I'm not the type to tuck my tail or grin and bear it.

and are constantly degrading them in your media?

I don't know about instances of this and last I checked, blacks didn't control the media. Also bw certainly can't even stop anyone from degrading anyone. We're the ones referred to as "nappy headed ho's and b's." Remember? When arrogant Africans look down their noses at AAs, aren't they degrading AAs? Do you ever point out to them that a degree in electrical engineering doesn't mean they entered any supreme realm? I've noticed how these same arrogant Africans grin and shuffle when they're around ANY--even lowly--white person.

Also there is one interesting thing I have noticed with many,
( not all) AAs I have met.

The first thing they tell you is how mixed they are, part this, part that etc, in other words they are telling you the African that they are not like you,establishing distance). They are different and are proud of that difference which is Ok.


Now this is very interesting because I've experienced just the opposite. When some AAs (like black nationalists) refer to themselves as "Africans," ALL of the continental Africans I know, including my ex-husband will point out when they're out of earshot of the person that these folks are NOT Africans and think they're a sad and confused lot--to pretend that they're full-fledged Africans.

What they (I am different from you AAs) don't realize is that most traditional Africans don't care for racial mixtures.

LOL! Then no African man I've met was traditional because they were ALL interested in mixing with me if they got the chance. I was proposed to by African men from various countries and could have married an African man every day of the year when I was in my twenties. The fact is that the majority of people in the world are already mixed to some extent, and any "pure" black woman who is entertaining the possibility of mating with a Caucasian man is headed toward producing mixed progeny. So I guess that means you'e not "traditional." You are definitely far from alone.

Its elitism and it does not only affect Africans. Try indians.

We were discussing so-called black folks of the world.

The thing is education is the difference between abject poverty and a decent life. If you look at it that way you will understand why they value it so much. And it is power indeed, whether people want to accept that or not. He who has the knowledge has the power.

No, the correct version is that "s/he who does not 'apply' knowledge properly has no power." Knowledge is worthless if it's not applied properly. And this is why you have all of those super-educated Nigerians in Nigeria, yet they import rice and tomato paste. They have all of those natural resources in their own land, yet they're begging. Getting a degree does not mean you're getting power. Only when any resource is used properly can it be turned into power. And, yes, you have my permission to quote me on that. LOL!

So for the average African that attainment is a very big deal. My particular tribe is notorious for that. But hey, they have alot of control as a result.

I don't know the particulars of your tribe's situation but crowing about it is what can lead to ethnic cleansing if or when another group gets the power. Most control is kept by virtue of violence or the threat of violence in this world because at the end of the day, there really isn't much difference between a formally educated person and one who isn't.

So as much as you have the arrogance that is obviously distateful, their education is serving them. I'll point that out to all the Nigerian cab drivers and gas station attendants I know here with their multiple degrees.

And personally I wouldn't mind if that culture spread into the Black diaspora.

Don't believe the hype that the main reason AAs are hindered is due to the fact that some of us don't have advanced degrees. Most of what retards AA progress in 2007 is discontinuity of a comprehensive culture, prevalent institutionalized racism and the residual effects of state sponsored racism and terrorism in this country. Getting a formal education can help one to make better choices in SOME cases, but even if every AA had an advanced degree in engineering, we'd still be dealing with institutionalized racism that's kept in place by those who have a vested interest in keeping it there. People don't just give up power that they'e hooked and crooked to get. Don't believe the hype!

Asians? Any Asian in this country has a nation backing and/or protecting him/her--one that helps him/her or stands to help him/her in various ways, psychologically/emotionally, and in practical ways, if needed. AAs, on the other hand, are totally and completely ALONE.

For ex. does ANY African country even have a bank in this country? Some Asian and Hispanic countries do. LOL! Did any of those African nations have an armed forces that could or did stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis? Yet these Africans are walking around looking at other melaninated people and feeling superior? Pure delusions!! LOL!!!!! On Dec. 2, 2007, ALL of those African nations could easily be swatted out of existence like flies. That's what those superior minds need to focus ALL of their superiority on.

The Asian countries are relentless in this pursuit and they have gained leverage.

The way I see it is that it's not the education; it's how they apply it that gives them leverage. There are many Asians here without a formal education and they still thrive because of their mindset. So, their formal education may only cause a minimal part of their success, and that success largely occurred AFTER the AA-led and implemented civil rights movement. There are many Africans here and in Africa with multiple degrees and they don't thrive. My grandmother had nothing more than a grade school education and was one of the 3 smartest people I've ever met.
I have to agree that Nigerians are unique. My sister worked over there for three years. I lived among them in the UK. They believe that they are it.

I know some level-headed individual Nigerians who are wonderful people, and I'll always support and respect them.

And we have to agree that they have some accomplishments among which is a space program. So they may have earned some bragging rights.

Well, I feel the exact same way about the accomplishments of AAs and that's why I'm proud to be an AA.

Anyway, you and I have had widely divergent experiences that have informed our world views about ourselves and people in the world. IMO, this whole discussion is no longer worth continuing for me. Good luck.

Grata said...

"I also know Africans from other places who are trying to get their relatives out of Africa".

It would be very erroneous to think that bringing Africans over here is to "get them out" of Africa. (I am amazed that that could be the interpretation). It is simply to help them take advantages of the opportunities that are clearly lacking for them over there. And not all Africans want to live abroad by the way. If you still believe otherwise then clearly you don't and will never know Africans.

Unless one is politically entangled and is running out for safety, the average African is abroad simply to make a living, not to live.

"I could just as well ask you what you're basing your generalizations about AAs on".

I can confidently say that I am more exposed to AA and western culture in general than you are of African culture. Remember Western culture and AA culture (to an extent) are almost mains stream the world over. African culture is restricted to the continent and known by its natives. Even National geographic can not be comprehensive about it. So mine is not necessarily a generalization while yours is. Nigeria does not equal to Africa.

"Those degrees are not helping them--except to flee. Now I know we can always blame de evil wm, but enough is enough"

Do you have a problem with people with degrees? Or am I misinterpreting your tone towards Africans with degrees?

"Who said anything about anyone sending money to Africa?
Not me. I really don't care about who's sending money. It's a good thing to help your family. I send money to Nigeria myself to help"

If you criticize the condition of African countries as you have clearly done and claim that people are running out. I will show you the individuals ( almost all) who are building their countries by remote.
And its good to know that you are sending money over there too. Every little helps. But don't get too carried away by thinking you are one of the few. Its the norm for Africans to do that.

"I know when someone is expressing an attitude of superiority and I know when they're not. With the former ones, I quickly cut them down to size. I don't want any association with them, don't want to dialogue with them, because there'll be constant conflict. LOL! My policy is that If I can't get along with someone, it's best to avoid them--in order to prevent constant strife. I'm not the type to tuck my tail or grin and bear it".


I am curious to know, how exactly are AAs reaching out to Africans as you claim?

"I don't know about instances of this and last I checked, blacks didn't control the media".

Look out for your comedians and black movies (those with majority black cast) You will never fail to find degredation of Africans. Unless ofcourse you simply don't "see" it. You dont need VH1 to write offensive material.

"Do you ever point out to them that a degree in electrical engineering doesn't mean they entered any supreme realm? I've noticed how these same arrogant Africans grin and shuffle when they're around ANY--even lowly--white person".

I am wondering how many such Africans you have met or is this simply your distaste for Africans talking even louder than before?

From your descriptions I conclude that you truly don't know Africans. If you did, many of your assumptions would be way different.

"LOL! Then no African man I've met was traditional because they were ALL interested in mixing with me if they got the chance. I was proposed to by African men from various countries and could have married an African man every day of the year when I was in my twenties. The fact is that the majority of people in the world are already mixed to some extent, and any "pure" black woman who is entertaining the possibility of mating with a Caucasian man is headed toward producing mixed progeny. So I guess that means you'e not "traditional." You are definitely far from alone".

You misunderstood. I didn't mean that they don't mix. I simply mean that they are not hung up about what mixtures people are. Whether you are part Indian, white etc, to them they see an American. Maybe black, maybe white. Coming up to them with all your mixtures is not something incredible because they define identity differently than you do. So you might as well be talking over their heads because your objective is not being met.

As for the Africans wanting you every time. Well, I can't argue with that!

" Knowledge is worthless if it's not applied properly."

You are definately better off with it than you would have been without it regardless of your levels of application.

"I don't know the particulars of your tribe's situation but crowing about it is what can lead to ethnic cleansing if or when another group gets the power"

No, you don't know and you can't know about it. With your interpretations, I doubt that you would see any African group positvely regardless of all the evidence.
How does pride in one's tribe equate to ethnic cleansing? Should we be suspicious of Black pride too?

"I'll point that out to all the Nigerian cab drivers and gas station attendants I know here with their multiple degrees".

And how many others are gaining significantly from having those degrees? I bet you the majority. There are degree holders of all racial backgrounds that are doing the same thing.
You obviously have issues with Nigerian degree holders.

"Getting a formal education can help one to make better choices in SOME cases, but even if every AA had an advanced degree in engineering, we'd still be dealing with institutionalized racism that's kept in place by those who have a vested interest in keeping it there".

Honestly I can not argue with this kind of thinking. All I can say is get the degree then see what happens. Better to have one than not. Go for the professions that are in demand where there is less impact of the institutionalized racism. There are ways around these hundles. Yes, the obstacle is there but it is simply an obstacle that can be worked around.
Giving the institutionalized racism excuse is totally useless.

Imagine if those that led the Civil rights movement sat and contemplated, " The white man will never change". Ofcourse the WM will never change, does that mean you refuse to change, adopt and fight?

"LOL! Did any of those African nations have an armed forces that could or did stop the Hutus from slaughtering the Tutsis?"

Again you show little knowledge on matters African. (Depsite the effort made thus far)
Why do you think the genocide is something to laugh or gloat about?
Honestly, I thought White racism was bad, but what you have so far displayed is 10x worse!

"There are many Africans here and in Africa with multiple degrees and they don't thrive. My grandmother had nothing more than a grade school education and was one of the 3 smartest people I've ever met".

The multiple degreed Africans again.

Has it occured to you that they may also have suffered the effects of institutionalized racism? And you are taking pleasure from their "failure".

"Anyway, you and I have had widely divergent experiences that have informed our world views about ourselves and people in the world. IMO, this whole discussion is no longer worth continuing for me. Good luck".


Ah Evia,
You are ever so graceful. I must say I am not too disappointed. Thankfully you wrote under your name this time. You are pretty consistent. I am glad I had this discussion, for now I know that there are some pretty well position AAs out there that hold such dim views of Africans and life in general.
Thanks for the truly enlightening experience.

And what exactly are you advocating?

Anonymous said...

Grata...

anyone who writes a response as long as yours needs their own blog!!! Serious, you are lecturing not conversing!

Anonymous said...

Now this is very interesting because I've experienced just the opposite. When some AAs (like black nationalists) refer to themselves as "Africans," ALL of the continental Africans I know, including my ex-husband will point out when they're out of earshot of the person that these folks are NOT Africans and think they're a sad and confused lot--to pretend that they're full-fledged Africans.

This is very true from my experience. I have seen the contempt of Africans if Black Americans make a sincere attempt to try to identify (I have had a an Uncle who was severely disillusioned by his attempt to bond and be part of the “Diaspora”) with Africans and their countries with dashikis, adopting African names, honoring their art and customs, yet the working philosophy is that we will never be African, based on the usual virulent stereotypes that most Africans, even as they feed off our efforts and triumphs and hold us in usual derision as less than them.

Whatever. I have no desire to be part of the African continent or its people. I am Black American, and I prefer Black American to African American-a decided misnomer of a group of people that are different than the “Diaspora”, if there ever was one.

Anonymous said...

Re: the original topic... pride...

I just watched a movie... "The Notebook". Now... that doesn't have much of anything to do with this topic, except that it put me in a reflective mood... and when I came back to my computer, this thread was still up from yesterday.

And being in a reflective mood, it got me to thinking about a whole bunch of tangents of the "truth"...

Back to pride... the Bible, and many of the great religions put pride as one of the greatest sins. I don't think it is... but bear with me.

Back before the 1950's, the "official stance" of our culture was that pride was something to be minimized... this was the prevalent conventional wisdom then. Modesty. The seven virtues. If you read much of literature from before 1960, the battle between pride and humility was a central part of the plot of many, many stories... and humility usually won. Or if it didn't, there was a downfall of pride. Or a bitter unhappiness of unrepentant pride.

Now, think of certain situations we've all heard about, and probably experienced ourselves... we meet somebody, or know somebody in our lives who "has it together" way more than the average duck. They are smart, successful, and have a great life... they seem charmed... and sometimes... if the story is really great... the punchline of the whole story is how humble they are. How they don't have a big head. How they're easy to talk to. How they listen. And they'll tell you they've got problems just like you do. But it's just obvious they are on "another level" than most mere mortals. But they're not "proud", as that's normally defined and measured. Their strength is of another kind.

Now, let's talk about the extreme end of pride... I'd be willing to bet if a sociologist did a study, unbiased and "scientific"... that there would be a definite statistical correlation between racist thoughts and actions and "pride" in one's own race, culture, or heritage.

I personally don't think pride is a bad thing... in moderation. But it's definitely not a solve-all panacaea, either. Pride in one's culture, heritage, family, race, wealth, class, whatever... none of those things are not going to bring true peace to an individual.

I'll admit that pride may make it statistically more likely to be financially successful. But I don't think that pride itself is the root cause of that success. I think it's confidence. Pride makes it easier to have confidence. And the confidence is what leads to success.

But what happens when a person full of pride reaches that pinnacle of success? Are they DEEP DOWN happy?

I'm not going to give a definitive answer, as if it's the only truth... I think some people would define that prideful success as true happiness.

I personally don't see myself being the happiest possible person as a person full of pride.

My view may be clouded by the fact that I'm a white male. It's been made perfectly clear to me, both overtly, and subtly, that if I were to show pride in being a white male, that I would be labeled and treated as a bigot, as insensitive, as... I could go on, but let's just say it's not an option to be "proud" specifically of being white, and male.

HOWEVER... there have been more than a few situations where some of those people have insinuated that I should be ashamed of being a white male.

To quote a few lines from Hall and Oates... No, I can't go for that. No, no. No can do.

I refuse to be ashamed of being a white guy. I am a white guy, but my identity... what I think of myself as... has much more to do with being intelligent, as being a human... as being spiritual, as trying to find a balance between idealism and realism. I think of myself as somewhat of a philosopher. Those are the things I am proud of. And my pride in those areas has brought me blowback of the same variety that I've hinted above that other sources of pride brings. So I've had to make sure not to get carried away. Not to be too proud of the things that I'm proud of.

Since the '60s, we've cared an awful lot about this thing called "self-esteem". As if a person is crippled without it.

So here's a bold question (or a line of thought, actually). And it may be hard to see this for most people, as immersed as we are in the conventional wisdom of American culture for the last 50+ years...

Is all this focus on "feeling okay inside" actually helping us feel okay inside? Does a high level of pride mean that when we look in the mirror, that we accept the person we see there? [deeper than just an affirmation] And that we accept our neighbors?

Do a little mental exercise... put yourself in a mental place where you have a LOT of pride in your racial, cultural, and family background. Consistently. A lot. And imagine going through life with this high level of "pride".

Now, imagine that you run into a person you don't particularly like, who does not share your racial, cultural, or family background. Obviously, that is going to happen in real life. In your little mental exercise, you probably put yourself above them in your mind. You may have thought your culture superior to his. Or... you get the picture.

Pride... at least extreme pride... leads to prejudice.

Now... obviously, I'm not advocating being ashamed of our backgrounds to avoid feeling or showing pride. I've said myself that I refuse to be ashamed of who I am.

To me, this whole pride and self-esteem thing misses the point...

People don't need to "think" they're okay... they just need to BE okay. Quit f'ing talking about it and just DO IT! Thinking you're okay naturally follows when you ACTUALLY ARE okay. Especially if you set reality as your benchmark.

So don't get caught up in the hype. Just make a plan. Look in the mirror and figure out who you are. Decide who you want to be. Decide what you want to do. Run it through some little censor in your brain to make sure it doesn't hurt other people... if it passes that test... then do what you want to do. Period. And if people don't like it... then you need some new friends.

So I don't think it's about pride... I think it's about confidence. And success breeds more confidence. And action breeds success. It's a cycle.

If you're proud, you'll probably want to advertise your grand plans... to tell the world. And if somebody isn't feeling your little dream, they may want to rain on your parade. And just like rain puts out a fire, naysayers suck energy out of good intentions. So... it's better to just get the ball rolling, and keep pushing it. And if they're not the kind of people that support your forward progress... then where you're going is none of their damn business. There's a saying in Taoism that advertising your big plans makes them less likely to happen.

Sure, maybe I'm biased, because I don't have the option of being proud... but if you think of the reasons our culture denies me the "right" to be proud of my race and culture... you'll see that I'll always be in this position... and if that can be true... then is pride in race or culture really the thing to chase?

Should we try to pass pride on to our kids? Will that pride make them likely to sit down at the table of brotherhood? A proud child will probably get into a fight when provoked. An ashamed kid will probably get bullied or beat up. But an accepting yet confident kid will just walk away on their own mission, and will not let the negativity of idiots control THEIR thoughts and actions. And their mind will get back to their reality without letting it ruin their day.

Pick your battles. Just do it. Accept yourself. Accept others (but choose your friends).

I think there's bigger fish to fry than pride. : )

D

Grata said...

"Should we try to pass pride on to our kids? Will that pride make them likely to sit down at the table of brotherhood? A proud child will probably get into a fight when provoked. An ashamed kid will probably get bullied or beat up. But an accepting yet confident kid will just walk away on their own mission, and will not let the negativity of idiots control THEIR thoughts and actions. And their mind will get back to their reality without letting it ruin their day."



Thanks D,

Definitely alot to contemplate on.
I like your style.

I find it truly interesting that you are denied of your pride. Though given the history, well.........

I have found myself of late on the defensive. I am now cautious of revealing my cultural side or simply being myself lest I be accused of having a superiority attitude and reminded of how grateful I should be. So the message seems to be that I can not be myself and I have to conform to Black society's standards. Problem is I am not from here. So the option for people like me is to self segregate to our cultural communities and just deal with the rest of society strictly on the professional front. Many African's do this and are probably the ones being accused of having an attitude.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Grata...

Re: "Definitely alot to contemplate on.
I like your style."

Thanks!

Re: "I find it truly interesting that you are denied of your pride. Though given the history, well........."

...Hmmmmmm....... okay, not sure if I can pull this off, but I'll give it a shot. --- Put yourself in the shoes of a white man. And put that in perspective of how life works, and how it SEEMS to work from the perspective of the person living it. Think of your natural response (as a white man) when those who are not white men want to lay the blame of many (if not most, or all) of the world's problems on the heads of white men. --- As I (a white man) see it, a white man can take this attack in several ways.

1) If they already "get it", if they already have rejected racial, sex, and class judgments, and have already condemned past acts of bigotry, no matter who committed them... and have already committed themselves to some kind of action to make a positive difference in the world... then to maintain their own dignity, the only option is to reject the "blame" placed very generically on white men. They say in their head "that's not me", and it's true... Hopefully, they keep their open mind, and learn to read between the lines of the perspective of others... and hopefully they keep their own idealism, their sense of perspective and justice, and their will to make a difference, despite being blamed for something they did not personally do.

2) If they do not "get it"... if they grew up in an atmosphere of bigotry, or just in general are not very open-minded... if all the problems of the world are thrown on the heads of white men, they will reject this blame even more quickly and thoroughly than the white man who does get it. And their response to that will be to become even more bigoted, and even more entrenched... they will learn complicated rationalizations which dodge the real issues, but firmly defend their positions of intolerance.

3) If the man is "open-minded", and has taken the conventional wisdom of the "blame the white man" movement at face value... and they "soak it all up" whenever someone who is not a white man has blamed the white man for everything... right about now, this white man has a very heavy burden of guilt. They are probably ashamed to be white, and ashamed to be a man. Blame, and guilt, and shame are very disempowering... this white man will probably never do anything significant to fix the problem... he takes it to heart that white men have been in power, and they did all these horrible things, so therefore it is right and just that all power be taken away from all white men... that white men should live marginalized and repentant for all the sins of our fathers.

So.... Re: "given the history, well.....", it seems to me there are several ways that history can be atoned for... one option would be to intentionally and subconsciously marginalize white people, and push them to the side, as punishment for marginalization and pushing to the side done by white people in the past (and even the present)... REVENGE.

Or maybe the issues or racism can be addressed and "fixed" much faster if white people are on board... if they buy into equality, and open-mindedness.

Guilt and blame is either leads to anger, or debilitation, or dismissal, or all three together. None of those are good options, imho. It's good to know history, but not good to beat people over the head with it. It's just not productive. NOT THAT YOU WERE : )


D

Anonymous said...

Hi, again, Grata...

Re: "I have found myself of late on the defensive. I am now cautious of revealing my cultural side or simply being myself lest I be accused of having a superiority attitude and reminded of how grateful I should be. So the message seems to be that I can not be myself and I have to conform to Black society's standards. Problem is I am not from here. So the option for people like me is to self segregate to our cultural communities and just deal with the rest of society strictly on the professional front. Many African's do this and are probably the ones being accused of having an attitude."

Quite a few of my friends were not born in the United States, and I've seen quite a few instances of how people who "aren't from here" deal with trying to fit in, but still maintain their identities. From the standpoint of observing things how they are (not how I wish they were...), there usually is a blending of their original cultures and America's culture. They "cherry pick" from both, maintaining their old habits in some ways, but adapting to the culture of their new adopted country in other ways. One thing that I've noticed is that I can find something to relate to with a non-practicing muslim friend from Pakistan, a christian friend from South Africa, a friend from Albania who was born muslim, grew up with a mix of both muslim and christian influences, got baptised a christian because his wife wanted a church wedding, but calls himself both to this day... a friend from poland who is more "spiritual" than religious... but very spiritual... an ex-girlfriend who dabbled in just about everything, including kabbalah... we've had some really deep conversations... but now has gone a more traditional path... ONE THING I'VE NOTICED IS THAT ANYONE CAN RELATE TO ANYONE... but they won't find the common bond, the strongest glue that holds them together in either one of their respective cultures... there are circumstances and culture of being a human being that is MUCH stronger than anything ethnic or racial. Things like the tribulations of raising kids... stories about our past that are funny or sad or a turning point... ideas... dealing with life... THESE THINGS can be "in common" between two people from totally different cultures.

Yeah... self-segregation happens... and something else that I've seen is that people "from somewhere else" seem to hang out with other people "from somewhere else"... even if they're not from the same place, and wouldn't seem to have much in common... just the fact of being not American brings them together.

And I've seen some friends give up too much of their culture, in my opinion... my friend from Pakistan still speaks Urdu when talking to their family, but getting them to teach me a few words and phrases is like pulling teeth... I think they've been conditioned to believe they have to hide anything that sets them way apart, especially after September 11th.

Yeah... "culture" tends to try to build boxes, and keep it's members inside them... whether we choose to accept those shackles and restrictions is up to us. : ]

D

Grata said...

"...Hmmmmmm....... okay, not sure if I can pull this off, but I'll give it a shot".

Thanks D,

I think you did a good a good job in differentiating how various WM deal with the burden of whiteness.


"And their response to that will be to become even more bigoted, and even more entrenched... they will learn complicated rationalizations which dodge the real issues, but firmly defend their positions of intolerance"

I can directly relate to this. My part of the country is home to the ruling group. So obviously there is alot of tribalism, nepotism etc and we are the devils to all the other tribes. Not something to be proud of. Having been around those that hold the power, their reactions to those discontented is the same as those WM you describe who don't 'get it'. The complaints do fuel their "bigotry" indeed and its a power trip for them.

" ONE THING I'VE NOTICED IS THAT ANYONE CAN RELATE TO ANYONE... "

Yeah, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you must be of the same race.
I am getting a feeling from certain AAs that we the foreigners should accept our blackness and see it the way this society sees it. And that is almost impossible for some us who never took skin color as an identity. Yes, we face racism because of it, but that doen't make me who I am. In otherwords I get the feeling that we should assimilate into American blackness. And if anyone has an idea of African cultures, they will see that a traditionally raised African can not assimilate into American Blackness. That refusal to willingly assimilate I believe is what earns them the criticism they are getting now.

If you look at the history of assimilation, whites had incentives to do so. The blacks were never accepted and so they formed their own culture that served them. In this era of multiculturalism, what incentive do I have as an African to assimilate into American culture or black American culture ? I already speak English, I can get a job and perform on it.
I think it is time for black people to realize that blackness is more complex. Yes, we are bound by racism but the fight needs to be approached differently.
Expecting every black person to be the same way is way too unrealistic.

"It's good to know history, but not good to beat people over the head with it. It's just not productive. NOT THAT YOU WERE : )"

I agree. Too much of that is going on even in the IR community. I have come to call aspects of it "white envy". Very noticeable in many posts. If one calls it out then they are labeled a WM defender. Its a no win situation.

Dia said...

I loved this entry!!!!!!! You are dead right and like you I am proud of who I am woman.black,American.We didn't make the rules but still we rise.Thank you.

Jamaican Gyal said...

Grata:

Sorry girl, but you do sound like you feel superior to AAs. I am of Jamaican descent and hear negative comments from West Indians about AAs all the time. I have successfully challenged at least one Jamaican woman to change her tune, by telling her to look into the history of these "lazy Black Americans".

Africans are not superior to anyone. West Indian Blacks are not superior to anyone. Black Americans are not superior to anyone. Whites sure as hell are not superior to anyone. Ditto Asians, Latinos and whatever other people are out there.

In God's eyes, we are all the same. If Black American pride leads to more success and positive strives for African Americans, then I say "two thumbs up!" I have benefitted enormously from the Civil Rights struggle, which was led by courageous Black Americans (and I do acknowledge that a few West Indians/Africans were involved in this struggle as well).

P.S. I have worked with AAs and can tell you that I have had excellent experiences. Without their assistance, I wouldn't have had any of the jobs that I have held. They are generally good, friendly people. Maybe you should ask yourself why your experiences have been so bad. Maybe it has nothing to do with where you are from.

Anonymous said...

Neither whites, nor black Americans nor West Indians nor Africans nor Asians are "superior" in any way to one another. We should all be proud of who we are. But I do believe black Americans need to be focused on the future, rather than the past. Yes, they've struggled, and America definitely wouldn't be anywhere near the greatest country in the world without the help of black Americans, but we can't use the past as an excuse any longer. West Indians, Africans and other immigrants come here and succeed despite still being victims of racial oppression. And no, we're not all the cream of the crop either. My West Indian parents both came from poor families. Yes, AA did pave the way for pretty much every immigrant of color in the US, but what's the excuse for not taking advantage of the benefits you afford us and yourself? What was the point of the struggle? Why don't AA continue the struggle by educating their young, instilling values that they see immigrants with? What's so bad about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps? Yes, immigrants do come from a culture where they are the "majority" but they also face a rude awakening in America and work hard despite that. For those who say immigrants succeed because they have the luxury of not being from societies where racism is so prevalent, well if anything, the "shock of racism" would be our excuse for not working as hard. If anything immigrants have it harder because they come to a new country and have to assimilate IN ADDITION to facing racism which AA are already accustomed to. And what about their children who still are successful despite being born in the US like AA? American blacks have done the hardest part already. Frankly whites don't give a flying f%$k about black people's lots (AA, West Indians or Africans). If AA are waiting for any sort of help, discussion, reparations, etc. from whites, AA are surely in trouble. Likewise, we shouldn't give a hoot what whites think and just get on with improving ourselves.

Grata said...

"Sorry girl, but you do sound like you feel superior to AAs".

Jamaican gyal,

What makes you say so?
Just because I don't blindly worship AAs by simply focusing on their achievements that you can never sufficiently educate me of?

"I have worked with AAs and can tell you that I have had excellent experiences".

Good for you and lucky you. However, even if you blame it on me as an individual, how do you explain the same experiences common to countless Africans?

reader of Infidel "Ayaan Hirsi Ali" said...

I came to this post thru Grata's blog.
As a Somali and thus African woman don't consider myself to be superior to anyone on Earth. I noticed that some blacks use this miserable tactic to differenciate themselves.
I strongly agree with Anon, Dec 30 @8:02PM:
Why shouldn't AA take advantage of their sacrifices instead of blaming the world for their actual misery?

african blogger said...

I also support grata. Though she and Evia argued both their points with intelligence I come down firmly on the side of grata for refraining from denigration and abuse of Africans - specifically Nigerians. Oh Evia, if only your much touted (by yourself) Nigerian ex-husband could hear the barely veiled contempt and anger which you hold for Nigerians, I doubt that you and he would have such a good relationship. Do you have kids with him? What nationalities do they bear? Do they live with you? I wish with all my heart you wold reveal the name of this so-called elite ex of yours. I will then be able to tell you what status he truly is (I am Nigerian), because it is a small yet large country and at a certain level one would know vittually ALL the real elite. I say this because if he is in agreement with your warped and resentful views of Nigerians particularly those with multiple degrees or all those men "lusting" after you (Jeez!, and you dare call others arrogant?) then he cannot be of any worthwhile stock. Just because you lived there for...how many years again? and married a Nigerian does not make you an authority nor does it fully give you insight into the nuances of what makes up the truly elite - no matter what you or he claim. And for your information, yes nigerians admire many foreigners, including ww, hell most men lust after any attractive (or not) woman. Remember that Nigerian (and possibly all African) men still consider bw as beautiful and desirable unlike AA men and do not hesitate to make it clear they desire a woman. What you should ask yourself is why so many men, knowing you are married disrespectfully chase you blatantly - yes it IS considered disrepectful in our culture to chase another mans wife. Of course some may feel that foreign born women are exempt from such respect..but that is another story. Besides, the grass is always greener you see. Yes there are a very few wealthy families of who do (rarely) marry foreigners and in fact consider this something to be especially proud of. BUT for the MOST part the truly elite, old monied, confident ones consider it beneath them to marry foreigners. Sure sleep with them, but bring them into the home? I think not. Many if not most marriages to foreigners end in divorce and of course if kids are involved (kids are majorly important to most Africans) it becomes messier. Virtually NO Nigerian would let his kids go abroad to live with their foreign Mom if they serperate. So for what is considered a lack of traditional values and understanding of culture, high likelihood of divorce and child custody matters many REAL elite do not want foreigners in their families. They know from harsh experience that it ALWAYS ends badly. And all some have to do is read your disparaging comments on this post about a people who for all intents and purposes took you into their country and hearts to further underline the reasons it is best to avoid intermarriage with foreigners.

Jamaican Gyal said...

The AAs I have met are all doing very well - thank you very much. I don't know why Africans and West Indians (who have made a mess of their own countries) are coming here to tell AAs anything about success. AAs have been successful in the past despite horrific obstacles and violence and CONTINUE to do well.

Keep in mind that not every AA is poor, uneducated, living off welfare, etc. In fact, the MAJORITY of AAs are doing well.

Yes, AAs could do better. But so could Africans (Africa needs to do a whole lot of improving before Africans can point out the fault of other people) and West Indians (Haiti especially).

Let's not play this "I'm better than you because I come from [fill in the blank]." In my opinion, AAs are the most successful, prosperous, and progressive Blacks in the world. They make me proud of who I am as a Black person, although I (as someone of Jamaican descent) do not share their history or heritage.

I'm sorry, but there is really not much that Africans can do to convince me that they are all that and a bag of chips. Africans must work on fixing up their own mess before they can comment on what they perceive as shortcomings in AAs. Look at what is going on in Kenya!! You would think that after decades of independence, Kenyans could hold a democratic election without so much drama and violence.

Although I am disappointed in Africans as a whole, I know that many are trying to do well and to make a positive difference. This is the same for AAs, many of whom are trying their best to do well and many of whom are succeeding.

What have African countries accomplished in the last 40-60 years since they have become independent? Same question can be asked of Black Caribbean countries. Why are we pointing the finger at AAs when we have so much more to accomplish in our own broken down countries? Does denigrating AAs make you feel better?

Anonymous said...

Evia said:

I chalk it up to different experiences because I don't believe there are any inherent or essential differences between human beings on average.

reader of ayaan hirsi ali said:

As a Somali and thus African woman don't consider myself to be superior to anyone on Earth. I noticed that some blacks use this miserable tactic to differentiate themselves.

Bush of ghosts said: Hear hear. There is nothing to be gained from denigrating each other, but much to be learned from self-criticism.

This blog is very interesting to someone who has never left Kill City apart from one unsuccessful attempt to get into not-so-great Britain. What little I know comes from other people, books and economic migrants or nomads or refugees. Kill City is a place where it is very difficult to instil in a child a balance of pride and humility because to even smile here is to identify oneself as prey, as someone remarked of NYC (Yan?). Kill City is not unique in any way except statistically it is exceptionally bereft of positive values. Life is short. My own lack of killer instinct and the vagaries of the same history that produced colonialism, exploitation, genocide, racism, worship of wealth not life, and the different but related experiences of all the diverse people on Earth is about to return me to the blogless world most Africans inhabit.

A computerless but wisely self-employed friend was here today. He said, "How much time these people have (to blog)! And they spend it fighting..." I will miss the blogs, now that I face REAL fighting once again, trying to survive on my decayed wits and wrecked health after a decade as a "professional" worker ant. It may be the ghetto but at least I have someplace to go, unlike several million other people.

Jamaican Gyal said:

"Look at what is going on in Kenya!! You would think that after decades of independence, Kenyans could hold a democratic election without so much drama and violence.

Although I am disappointed in Africans as a whole, I know that many are trying to do well and to make a positive difference. This is the same for AAs, many of whom are trying their best to do well and many of whom are succeeding.

What have African countries accomplished in the last 40-60 years since they have become independent? Same question can be asked of Black Caribbean countries. Why are we pointing the finger at AAs when we have so much more to accomplish in our own broken down countries? Does denigrating AAs make you feel better?"

Bush of ghosts said: Indeed. And as many people have pointed out, this denigration of AAs occurs only in America itself. (let's make an exception for Nigeria in light of the repartee here (a joke). BTW Nigerians have a fine tradition of preserving Dickensian words for human behaviour, like "troublesome" for example). Most of the black diaspora and probably the world in general looks up to and envies AAs, despite the media.

One thing though. A so-called "democratic" election produced the current US administration, with its thoughtful and far-sighted foreign policy. The Kenyan election was a lot more rigged, but elections are a poor excuse and merely the best substitute we have for real democracy. Kenya has been ruled by one party since independence barring the past five years, I think, during which time it was arguably ruled by a variation on that party.

The Kenyan people voted against corruption and their vote was disregarded. Realising the ethnic whirlwind he has unleashed and the massive loss of face and income the nation is suffering, the incumbent leader has -- too late for the dead, maimed, displaced and now hungry -- offered to negotiate a govt of national unity. What he could do is order a recount (or permit the high court to do so) and resign in disgrace. Nevertheless, anything that may avert the tragedy unfolding is a good thing.

Why are you disappointed in Africans as a whole, Jamaican Gyal? Don't get me wrong, self-criticism is courageous and very different from self-hate. But the majority have not had much say in their fate, so eager were some to profitably continue colonialism in another form. I am disappointed in the human race as a whole, I must admit.

We can always blame the rich but when it comes to choosing between respecting life and taking money instead humans have a poor record.

Those who stand firm against corruption may get brief praise but are widely seen as fools in private and soon martyred and forgotten for their naive subversion of the criminal global economic system.

In Africa survival itself is an achievement and it is not an "excuse" to say that reversing underdevelopment and the murderous consequences of random colonial partition is a superhuman task. No excuses: Africa must be the only geopolitical entity so many people desperately want their kids to leave.

But putting each other down is the biggest waste of time on this already wasted planet, unless you dig to entertain white supremacists and other people with more wealth and power than humanity and common sense.

Grata said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grata said...

"Many if not most marriages to foreigners end in divorce and of course if kids are involved (kids are majorly important to most Africans) it becomes messier. Virtually NO Nigerian would let his kids go abroad to live with their foreign Mom if they serperate. So for what is considered a lack of traditional values and understanding of culture, high likelihood of divorce and child custody matters many REAL elite do not want foreigners in their families"


African blogger,

Thanks.
Same exact behavior where I am from. The women can get married out but not the men.

"Just because you lived there for...how many years again? and married a Nigerian does not make you an authority nor does it fully give you insight into the nuances of what makes up the truly elite - no matter what you or he claim".

One thing people forget is that African countries are culturally structured differently from Westen countries which have one dominant culture. It takes more than living in a country for 4 years to come to a fair understand of it and its people.
And someone watching their local news should not even assume they have an idea of the reality.

Grata said...

Grata said...
"What have African countries accomplished in the last 40-60 years since they have become independent? Same question can be asked of Black Caribbean countries. Why are we pointing the finger at AAs when we have so much more to accomplish in our own broken down countries? Does denigrating AAs make you feel better"


Jamaican gyal,

I highly doubt that you read all the posts and if you did, you definitely did not comprehend.

What you just posted is your long held opinion of issues and not responding to what is being said.

And watching your local TV station for matters African is not going to get you very far hence you knowledge of the "Kenya mess".

In otherwords you just came out with a generic/cookie cutter explanation of matters affecting foreign blacks and and AAs. Nothing particularly enlightening

Anonymous said...

Back to the main topic of Aimee's post.

African American indeed have lots to be proud of. Those accomplishments should not be down played by anyone.

And yes, we can all agree that Africans as well as other blacks from different locations around the world have made great accomplishments as well.

I've worked with both AAs and Africans. What I can say is this, there are good and bad with 'individuals' in either group. I like to concentrate on the good. To do otherwise simply leaves a bad taste which does not help anyone.

版主支持你 said...

圣诞树 小本创业
小投资
条码打印机 证卡打印机
证卡打印机 证卡机
标签打印机 吊牌打印机
探究实验室 小学科学探究实验室
探究实验 数字探究实验室
数字化实验室 投影仪
投影机 北京搬家
北京搬家公司 搬家
搬家公司 北京搬家
北京搬家公司 月嫂
月嫂 月嫂
育儿嫂 育儿嫂
育儿嫂 月嫂
育婴师 育儿嫂
婚纱 礼服

婚纱摄影 儿童摄影
圣诞树 胶带
牛皮纸胶带 封箱胶带
高温胶带 铝箔胶带
泡棉胶带 警示胶带
耐高温胶带 特价机票查询
机票 订机票
国内机票 国际机票
电子机票 折扣机票
打折机票 电子机票
特价机票 特价国际机票
留学生机票 机票预订
机票预定 国际机票预订
国际机票预定 国内机票预定
国内机票预订 北京特价机票
北京机票 机票查询
北京打折机票 国际机票查询
机票价格查询 国内机票查询
留学生机票查询 国际机票查询