Last week, I sent a letter to many of my African friends, family, mentors and classmates. This email was inspired by many of the things I have heard African Americans say about Africans and vice versa. Not only is there a growing rift between the two groups, neither has effectively addressed the misinformation that drives this rift deep and wide. The purpose of this email is to implore Africans to welcome Blacks from around the world back to their rightful home.
[Originally drafted 7:00 am - August 2, 2014]
Hello African Family (African friends, family, mentors, and classmates)!
Hopefully, you all are enjoying your summer. Please excuse this lengthy email. I have had the pleasure of speaking with each of you over the last year about many things close to my heart. (If I blind copied you, some things in this message may not be directly applicable to you) One of the things that is very important to me is the state of blacks in America.
I never realized the difference of experience/perspective between being African American and Africans-in-America before meeting all of you. The more I learn, the more I feel compelled to explain what it means to have the African-American consciousness; not so you can share this consciousness but, so that you understand that this is the perspective of your brothers and sisters who were born into captivity in a foreign land.
[To get a better understanding of what I mean by implying that African-Americans are still being held in captivity in America, please take a few moments to check out this video that MIT professor and world-renowned scholar Noam Chomsky had to say about Blacks in America. It challenges the belief that America has transformed into a place where the opportunity to excel is offered equitably to all who are considered American citizens.]
The biggest temptation is to look at African Americans with pity. They/We are the most lazy, immoral, unmotivated, oversexed, ratchet, dishonest, uneducated, and backwards people on the planet. That is the exact same lens by which many African Americans see their distant relatives in Africa. This lens is very powerful and further creates an unbelievable amount of psychological division. It lures the seer into believing the most absurd things about their brothers and sisters. It is what has kept generations of African Americans from seeking freedom at home instead of this foreign land. “If Africans are really all of those things that the Master says they are, it makes no sense to fight to go back there; we’re better off doing our best to make a life right here.”
On the other hand, you all have helped me understand that the smear campaign works both ways. Every year, the richest and most prominent Africans send thousands of their babies oversees to US [and UK] schools. Why do they do this? Is it so they can learn more about the diaspora, spread their African heritage to distant lands, learn about how their brothers and sisters have been fairing for the last 400 years? No! My father, like many of your relatives [and some of you] came to the US to learn the white man’s English, mathematics, and economics, in order to seal your own economic fate and the economic fate of your families. Africans come to America to learn the European way of ruling the world, period. Having this mindset is predicated on the belief that African Americans have neither anything to offer many Africans, and also are in no position to get anything from them. There is, however, a folly in this pursuit. One must have a tremendous amount of ignorance to pay a fortune, travel thousands of miles, be surrounded by people who look just like them, and never wonder if that people had something essential to offer. Rather than look to this people for any insight into resilience, self-determination, and perseverance; to rather, focus on the worst examples of this people and write them off as a lost cause, is indeed foolish.
I am writing this to you in hopes of enlightening each of that your fate is pretty much sealed. You are studying in the epicenter of global capitalism, you come from a rich heritage, and have excellent connections. You are rubbing shoulders with future billionaires and possibly the world’s first trillionaires. Bottom line- you may not know how your life will unfold, however, its very possible that poverty and despair will not be what characterizes your legacy. However, that does not ensure that you or your generation will do anything to repair the ancient rift that continues to separate your people.
Many people think that African Americans being re-united with Africa is a preposterous idea. Critics say things like: There is just too much complexity! Where would they go? Who’s gonna pay for it? What about mixed races? Do African-Americans even want to come here? It just doesn’t make sense! Besides, its been nearly 400 years since the Africans were first stolen and taken to America. However, what many people fail to understand is that the Israelites have shown that a mass exodus is both possible and plausible. The Israelite people were held in captivity in Egypt for 430 years. Many Israelites had no desire to leave Egypt even though they were being oppressed. The Israalites were a racial minority. The Israelites are thought of as being one nation, however, they originated from 12 different nations (tribes). The Israelites were slaves and held little wealth of their own. Though forbidden to by Biblical law, many Israelites willingly or unwillingly mixed with Egyptians while in captivity, making any kind of extrication even more complicated.
Somehow, through Moses’ leadership, a decision was made to depart from the land of captivity. Not only was this decision made, a plan was crafted, and action was taken. The Egyptians were in Egypt longer that Blacks have been held captive here in America. Their situation was complex. They, literally built Egypt just like blacks have built America. Not everyone agreed that it was a good idea to leave. Not everyone felt like they were being ‘held in captivity.’ That didn’t change the fact that it was impossible to have a mighty nation while remaining in captivity.
I am not suggesting that there will be an African exodus in my lifetime (though I would wholeheartedly support one). However, I am implying that each of us has a duty to understand the real trauma that our people are facing because of the tremendous brain drain that our continent is facing. We have Africans around the world building great nations, but afraid to come home. Beyond becoming educated in economics, finance, engineering, and medicine, Africans are being educated in the science of ‘fear of home’ and in the art of ‘hatred of self.’
You and I are on the fast track to become one of these ‘extremely educated, extremely successful’ Africans who worked hard, got ahead, and left no legacy of unification. I encourage you not to be that. Instead, embrace your brothers and sisters in America, in Europe, in South America, and all over. Learn from them, teach them, and hang out the welcome mat. Welcome African brilliance back to the continent, wherever it is. Become a leader of the mental exodus back home. We have the power to bring the knowledge from the west back home, but do we have the conviction to bring the integrity of home to the world? Do we have the moral compass to defy capitalism when it means personal gain at collective expense? Do our hearts possess the the character that says, “I will eat when my people can eat?” Do we have the clarity to understand that united we stand and divided we fall?
People keep saying that the face of African leadership can change when the youth stand up. I, personally, fear this! If young people are learning how backwards their people are and how silly their values are, there is no way they can lead their people forward. However, they can become the most dangerous enemies that their people have ever seen. I encourage you, don’t let this system turn you into that.
Revisiting the Jewish example, there is much to be learned about taking care of our own. Present day Israelites are born with a right to a Jewish passport and a birth right to visit Israel, no matter where in the world they are born. No matter how many generations have passed, they are always welcome home. They don’t have to live in Israel to feel like they are Jewish. Even poor Jews in foreign countries have a 10-day free trip to Israel to use sometime in their lifetime. If I were Jewish, I’d feel a connection to Israel that many African Americans don’t feel to Africa. We have the power to learn from this example of how to treat the diaspora.
A great start is the refusal to believe the hype that African Americans are just lazy, whiners, who are to be completely blamed for their own condition. I/they are kidnapped children who are struggling to make sense of our captors ways and our parents’ rejection. I/they are told by America that we should let go of everything that is African about us (skin color, hair texture, rhythm, love of music, love of our people, etc.) so that we can better fit into American society. I/they are also told by Africa that any dying connection to the continent is no longer relevant.
It is your duty and my duty to counter these messages with our work, lives, and legacy. We must show the world that the Nigerian, Ghanaian, South African way way is neither worst, nor substandard to the British, American, or German way. We must also, and more importantly, prove that time and distance can separate us, but when we really listen to each other and learn from each other, we are stronger than ever!
Therefore I say… Go! Become successful! Secure your own destiny! But, whatever you do, remember that the doors of opportunity are not open to your brother or sister unless you are the one holding it open. Don’t expect your enemy to hold the door open for your family. That’s your job! If you aren’t doing it, don’t allow anyone to lead you to believe that they are doing it.
Thank you for the opportunity to share these thoughts with you.
I pray you are doing well and hope to connect soon.