Elizabeth Azumah, Agnes Scott College
I have had the overwhelming privilege of living in different countries on different continents. Born to Ghanaian parents in the U.K., I lived in India, the U.K., and currently reside in the U.S. I was never truly aware of my ‘Blackness’ till around the tender age of 6 when I lived in India. I came to the realisation that I was different. I came to the realisation that my brothers and I were different. From getting called a “monkey” and being stared down, I was confused and had to ask my dad, “Daddy, why didn’t God just make everyone the same?” A question he was never able to truly answer.
It is not unprecedented that Blacks worldwide, on the continent of Africa and diaspora, seem to share in the experience of a particular kind of universal suffering and dehumanization. The worst way in which this suffering is known to be manifested into the lives of Black people around the world is notably perpetuated systematically and traced down to one main source–White supremacy. The oppressor has been able to systematically and psychologically force notions of “White is better” into the psyche and lives of Blacks in the diaspora, the continent of Africa and peoples with generally darker-melanated skin tones. Such indoctrination has found its way to impede on the common human need for self-actualisation of many Black people.
Remnants of colonisation still remain in many African states. The arbitrary division of countries by colonisers has led to continuous conflict(s) including failed and unstable states. Upon leaving colonised African countries in a state of complete and utter socio-economic and political tatter, the West continues to infiltrate African states through imperialist motifs. The people of Africa are consistently told they are in desperate need of stable ‘democratic societies’ in order to be successful. But how can this be achieved when the political and socio-economic status of these countries is what is needed in order to truly achieve democratic modes of governance? The attempted transition into democracy after colonisation for many African states has led to –and continues to lead to conflicts. The only true way to establish stable forms of governance is through stabilising the political and socio-economic burdens that were imposed by colonisation. Africa is laden with an abundance of rich resources. However, the pillaging of these resources by the West via neo-colonialism is what continues to impede the continent’s upward mobility. Africa must ditch the superficial need of “foreign aid” and invest in their own resources to reach economic and institutional stability. An ahistorical account of Africa’s modes of governance is superfluous. Traditional African modes of governance have shown to embody mechanisms of democracy where Chiefs meet with elders to reach a consensus. The only true way for African societies to re-establish this way of life in a modernized way is to take control of their rich resources and build the necessary institutions for general upward mobility.
As an African living abroad, I have often attested to the fact that I would like to eventually go back home and contribute to the betterment of my home country. Many Africans living abroad have expressed the same sentiments. However, it is important that African youth living abroad not fall prey to what I deem “Western Privilege” where they believe their Western education and way of thinking is what the African continent needs. We must all educate ourselves on the traditions, customs, and history of our continent. We cannot go back with this Western Privilege of saving the motherland. We cannot go back and infiltrate political and governmental institutions when our brothers and sisters who have lived there their whole lives continue to suffer. The only true way for Africa to transform is to mobilise the youth and peoples who currently reside there and have lived there their whole lives.
On the other hand, Blacks in the diaspora, such as those in North Amerika, face similar dispositions to lack of political and socio-economic clout as their African brothers and sisters. The capitalist and imperialist nature of Amerika and other Western countries have successfully and continuously entrenched power into their own hands to the point where they can systematically oppress a wide group of people. Black people, especially in the Amerikas, have contributed tremendously to the economic success of the Amerikas yet have not reaped the benefits they sowed for their oppressors. It is impertinent that Black people worldwide realise that the power they need to combat the oppressor’s systemic way of persecuting them is in the same social, economic, and political clout their oppressor uses against them. As radical as it may appear, Black people must seek concrete ways they can erupt the oppressive system imposed on them. Exemplary and successful ways in which this can be achieved is the need for Black businesses to flourish and succeed. Black people, especially in North Amerika, must recognise the spending power they have on the Amerikan economy. An historical account of the this power Black people intrinsically hold can be seen in the economic consequences that emerged from the vital Montgomery Bus Boycott. Black people must not allow the oppressor to indoctrinate notions of Western meritocracy, which clearly requires the possession of political and economic power that oh-so well seems to be fortified in the hands of White people. The idea of tokenism is neither feasible nor worthwhile and is also clearly a superficial course for the oppressor to exert power. Collective efforts by Black people must be reinforced and established.
Black people must recognise the countervailing power they hold socially, economically, and politically. The only true thing the oppressor has over Black people worldwide is deep-set entrenched power. This power, established systematically, needs to be dismantled and in order to do so, Blacks worldwide must recognise their social, economic, and political power. This may require radical forms of action, but as Malcolm X rightfully stated: “if you give people a thorough understanding of what confronts them and the basic causes that produce it, they’ll create their own program, and when the people create a program, you get action.”