Tensions Between Africans and African Americans?

Africa and Africans around the world

How black people relate to one another has not received as much attention as to how black and white people relate to one another. There are tensions that are rarely discussed between black people from different parts of the world. Moreover, there are reportedly many contributions to the tensions between African Americans and Africans. These contributing factors include education; the European’s slave system strategy of “divide and conquer”, and the world’s ignorant tendency of putting all black people in one box. 

Education

According to T. Becker, a researcher on black people in academia, African students mostly view academic success as both a national duty and personal fulfilment and success. This, however, has led to African Americans viewing the “African students’ adjustment to the American educational system and the white middle-class society” as brainwashing. This then resulted in the “basic incompatibility between Africans and black Americans that leads to the mutual rejection.”

Secondly, the educational system is Eurocentric. M.K. Asante promoted Afrocentric education in his book “Afrocentricity”, saying that it would “correct negative effects, such as thoughts and stereotypes that are circulated about African people.” Jennifer Jackson and Mary Cothran add in their study in the Journal of Black Studies, that although Africans have come far in the education sphere, “African people still trail behind their white counterparts economically and look to them for employment.” Which can be considered another form of slavery maybe?

Divide and Conquer

Europeans during the slave trade and well beyond that also contributed to the tensions between African Americans and Africans. The media in recent times has also had a hand in spreading negative stereotypes about both groups. According to Jackson and Cothran, the system of slavery is said to have been responsible for creating negative myths and stereotypes about African people as a strategy to divide and conquer. This thus prevented black people from recognizing their strength in unity.

One Box

Finally, people are not sensitive to the differences between black people who look similar, but are different otherwise (socially, culturally and intellectually) and this is a problem. C. Palmer mentions in his article about the African diaspora that until recent time, people who lived in Africa “defined themselves solely in accordance with their ethnic groups”. The groups being homogenized steps on what was historically practised, which creates tensions.

World map including Africa

Solution

Jackson and Cothran suggest that the best way to reduce tensions between the two groups is to implement a more Afrocentric education in the curriculum. By doing this, people will be reeducated so they have a better perspective on African Americans. Myths and negative stereotypes about African people will also be dispelled. 

The Disney movie, Black Panther, which was released in 2018, touched on the strained relationship between Africans and African Americans. The movie is about two cousins (played by Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman) who fight for the throne of the Wakanda kingdom. This is after one cousin was left in the United States by the late king’s brother. The “lost” cousin came from the United States to fight for the throne so he can use the resources Wakanda possesses to help his fellow black people who are struggling in the western world. Coming from his situation as a fatherless black man who grew up in Oakland, California, the “lost” cousin has issues. Jessica Bennet mentions in an article in “Ebony” that “Michael B. Jordan’s [character], Killmonger embodies the bitterness of cultural isolation that can often lead to a complete disregard—or even blatant disrespect—of the African ancestors, elders, and traditions.”

Although African people (including African Americans) have the same beginning, they are different socially, culturally and intellectually.

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