Skewed Perception

Julian Lee, IUP

Do you carry spears? Do you all live in huts? Everyone in Africa is rich, right? Is everyone in Africa a skinny, hungry black boy? Africa is a beautiful country. For 10¢ a day…

Any of these phrases sound familiar? If so, you may have caught them in passing. You might have heard them and believed them at one point in time. Might even STILL believe them. Ignorance is a simple flame, yet once ignited can influence entire populations. The process to ignorance of this scale begins with 1) Not having access or ability to learn the truth 2) Believe what you want or have been told instead of the truth 3) Convincing people that your beliefs are true 4) Then repeating the process daily until your entire family, city, state, country, continent, and planet speak as unknowingly as you do. After steps one through four, enjoy a cup of herbal tea with a hint of honey as your world dips into a dark, delusional ditch.

Beyond color and the system of race, there are intra-racial differences that divide Black people across our diaspora. The most pervasive and divisive difference being ethnicity, nationality and culture combined. An American born, black man does not typically view himself as African. I've heard so many American born, black people say “I'm not African”. True as it is, it almost seems as though blacks in America see Africans as another race completely. I rarely hear “African Americans” add Africans to the “Black struggle” narrative, even though there are Ghanaians, Nigerians, Egyptians, etc. in America. There may be an assumption that Africans are removed from the violence, classism and colorism that American-born Blacks experience. There is a misconception that a Black man from the motherland can trace his ancestry back to before the 1800’s while Blacks born in America cannot. Whites (I don’t see whiteness as race but, as a poisonous mentality associated with complexion. Though, that’s a topic for a separate article.) colonized half the world, erasing and rewriting history. This legacy of colonial domination still affects African nations and populations today- mentally and economically.  

When it comes to African- Americans views of Africans we view them as an “us” and “them”. This is because society has adopted a mentality that if -American is not attached to the end of an ethnicity then they are aliens. Since, American is attached to African American, they tend to follow this as they don’t experience what we experience. Also, African-Americans view their intersections as completely different based on demographics therefore, they look at African as a completely separate entity instead of a part of their own group. Then, we view Africans as having the belief that we are not truly African because of the westernized culture that we inherited because of our location.

We, as African Americans, have a different lifestyle and way of living than Africans who live on the continent. This view most likely gives us this off balance perception of our ancestry.

The Media taught us that the African people or, more precisely, the continent of Africa has nothing to offer us except diseases and famine, that all people in Africa are poor, hungry, and they don't have anywhere to sleep. Meanwhile, a great number of white Americans invest in and study the African culture, the things they practice, their religion and what they eat.

We think that Africans hate us because mainly due to our naivety. So defensively, we think we have more than Africans and are worth more. In a culture where materialism is your determinant of social class, no wonder so many of us look down on them so therefore they look down on us. To Africans, we don't know anything about anything; only what we hear; and what we hear is all lies created to throw dirt on the continent of Africa as a whole. We don't research enough about our history and from where we come.

Our ancestor’s slave masters gave them last/first names such as Michael, Freddy, Gary, and so on, so we don't know our indigenous family names to properly trace our lineage. We, African Americans, don't all know what the many regions of Africa were built upon and how many of the countries were colonized and forced into ruin. And, to this day, people are still trying to exploit Africa’s land and seize it for profit. Funny enough, the propaganda would tell you Africa has nothing to take.