Born only two years after slavery’s official end, Madam C.J. Walker surmounted great adversity to become one of America’s first female self-made millionaires. By 1920, she had trained over 23,000 sales agents and workers to sell her pioneering black hair-care products. But she did more than teach us the importance of enterprise. She taught us how to celebrate ourselves.
Trust is an integral component of Pan-Africanism as it requires people to believe in a set of shared cultural values. As a young African-American woman, I have seen and experience firsthand the amount of disunity within the black community primarily because of how segmented we are as a people as different groups within our community prioritize their own individual wars against gender and LGBTQ inequality, colorism, police brutality, and incarceration.
I, for the very first time, saw the possibility of being able to call myself African and believe it. It allowed me to step into a world where being black could mean focusing more on being African than American, or at the very least, to the same degree. Being African was something I could claim as a tangible identity and not an obligatory or obscure label. Being an African-American no longer had to be an anchor to a coiled history bottled within my genes, but a direction I can choose to follow.
I cannot say I did not understand both sides of this argument, so I will simply say this: hold on to the tradition if it does not have roots in some form of violence, misogyny or any other form of bigotry. I come from a very prideful people which is why it is hard for us to admit that we are not perfect and our traditions are not perfect.
The term “Oppression Olympics” was first introduced to me in passing during my junior year of high school when two friends of mine had gotten into a heated argument. The quarrel was about the injustices they face as a result of them being a member of their respective marginalized group. As I attempted to calm both of them down, I began to wonder why some members of marginalized groups feel the need to diminish the residual effects of painful history other groups outside of theirs faced?