Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Diaspora in Europe

the other part of the African diaspora i spoke the least about in my previous post about Africans and African Diasporans was the diasporic community in Europe. the DynamicAfrica blog put up a number of videos on African Immigrants living in Europe which gave much insight to their lives. however, they are immigrants and don't necessarily have the same experience as those that were born from 2nd and 3rd generations in Europe. here's one of the Surprising Europe series:

i cannot say i know of many blogs or website from the diaspora in Europe, so feel free to share.

on another note, watching these series reiterated the desperate need for Black people in the diaspora, those on the continent, and those immigrating from the continent to other, especially Western nations. the transition of Africans in Europe would be so much easier if they had possibly a Black organization on their areas helping them and getting them situated. legal advice, knowledge of health clinics or doctors/physicians that do work on the side, or housing with other Black/African roommates is not something impossible. we just need the solidarity first.

comment. think. criticize.

The Diaspora in Latin America

a post or two ago, i was discussing the rift between Africans and African Americans, and i went into detail about the diaspora. the portion about the diaspora was lacking much on non-USian people from the diaspora. i've become more informed about various situations of Blacks not only in the West Indies, South America, and Canada, but also in Europe. and really, there's Black everywhere with small communities in Asia and Australia as well. if anyone has any resources on those from the diaspora in Australia, the Middle East, Indonesia or Asia, feel free to share.

this post i wanted to talk about Latin America and those that are put in the "Latin" category. this video discusses the complexity of the term "Latino/a" and the racial ambiguity that exists in the term:

the categories in the US often times force people to choose between one or the other, when oftentimes they embody both simultaneously. "Black" and "Latino/a" is often referred to as "Afro-Latino/a", "Black Hispanic", or just "Spanish" in New York City. the political correctness of each of these terms is not to be determined by me, but some find the term "Hispanic" or "Spanish" offensive, while others see no problem with it.

many people from Central an South America embrace the African part of their culture and/or themselves, but just like any colonized people, it is devalued collectively. South America, in particular places such as Brazil have more Blacks than any country outside Africa, yet most media representations of Brazilians look like this. systemic racism and issues with self-hatred plague Afro-Latino communities just as they do all others. during the slave trade, more Africans went to South and Central America than the United States, but you would not know it looking at their media.
here are some blogs, websites, and videos about Afro-Latino/as:

comment. think. criticize. add & share

should white teachers be allowed to teach histories about people of color?

so, i took 20th Century Black History this semester as a way to get credits for my African American Studies minor. and i'm getting annoyed by a few things...

for one, my professor is white. i'm not going to say i wasn't disappointed the first day of class to see someone that looks like Stone Cold Steve Austin (minus the muscles) setting up his slideshow.
firstly, i don't think any college should prohibit someone from achieving a degree or teaching position in African American studies if they're white. i do, however, think there should be extra requirements for them to get a degree in the field and that colleges should encourage or try much harder to employ Black professors for Black Studies as much as they possibly can. there are a number of Black with degrees in Black Studies that cannot find jobs. he cannot and will never be able to speak about Black history from the perspective that we can. and that is what is most needed. equally, i don't want a white man or woman teaching me about Taoism, Asian Studies, Arabic, Spanish, or Latin American Studies. the diversity of schools is lacking and the perspective is one of an outsider. i want someone whose first language was Arabic or Spanish to teach me those languages and i want an Asian teaching me Chinese, Taoism or Asian Philosophies. not a white man who went to China for 3 years and now thinks he can teach me about Asia or the Spanish language.
does he (or they) know more about Black history than most Black folks? more and likely. does he know more about Black history than a Black person with a degree in African-American studies? absolutely not. and he never will.

and he said the n-word today. twice. he was reading something that said it and he recalled a quote from some racist politician, but still.

also, i really enjoy, actually i need, a Black professor. at least one a semester. i have another one (Geography of Africa course...of which the professor and i are the only Black folks in the class...), but i need more, and i need them talking about the things that are important to our community.

comment. think. criticize.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thursday, January 5, 2012

why i'm not voting...

i've decided i'm not voting this time around, or possibly ever. here's why:

1)Politics is a distraction
i think this is almost analogous to the issue of tokenism. tokenism (also known as integration in the US) is something that was done to get our minds away from the highly racialized (amongst others) hierarchy that exists in this country. if they appease us on some small, cosmetic level, we will cease to think about all the issues and the depth of the issues.
similarly, politics is done for the purpose of getting our minds off the perpetual problems our society and others like it produce, encourage, and maintain. for example, the idea of democracy is one that does not exist in this country. we have raided and raped other nations under the guise of delivering democracy to their doorsteps. yet, we have the Electoral College that can override the majority rule with whomever they wish. not to mention the absurd obstacles presidential candidates have to overcome in order to even have their name placed on the ballot. monetary fees, petitions, media coverage, and other limitations make it so this can never fully be a democracy. not to mention the way in which the media (more and likely backed by the government) spotlights two main candidates making it so that we always have to choose between a democrat and a republican. how is this democracy if i only have two choices and someone chooses them for me?
everyone in this country feels or has felt as though they were choosing the lesser of two evils and i'm over that. it is a waste of time and a distraction, at best. there are millions of dollars spent every four years, and the years leading up to these presidential races, for what? us to get someone whose going to do what the last shitty president did before him?
democrat or republican, they've all come from the same steaming pile of corruption.

as opposed to this country spending millions of dollars, time, and energy to understanding and expelling racism, sexism, LGBTQ issues, classism, the problems with our modes of subsistence, and food production...we're spending time of cosmetic issues such as how many democrats are in the house or if the republicans will put up a strong candidate against Obama. it is a distraction and nothing more.

2) Democrat=Republican=Independent=Libertarian
none of these parties are particularly different. they all have the same core values and you can rest assured that no one they put into presidency will truly have any power to change anything. four or five laws and a removal of troops from some country we should have never been in means nothing when we have thousands of issues and a system doomed from the get go.
last election, i was rooting for Dennis Kucinich (although i voted for Obama). he had a number of positions i still respect even now. however, i know that even he cannot impact the system that much because he is not genuinely in control. he is a token, again, to keep your mind off those behind him who certainly hold much more power than he ever could.

3) I'm over this 'Vote or Die' shit.
i can complain and will complain about the system until it changes. this remark i've heard too many times against those that choose not to vote - "you can't criticize the president if you don't vote" - is hogwash. being a citizen of this country, (or even of the world, considering the monetary power and position the US holds on a global level) and being effected by the decisions made by this country legitimates my opinion. as a citizen of the world, we all have a say in the American government. when the US bombs Libya and Yemen without regard, without a "demoratic" vote, without any consideration for borders and a nation's sovereignty, we all have to criticize the government whether or not we pay taxes, and whether or not we have voted.

4) so that when Black folks that love Obama tell me "that's a vote for Obama lost! why aren't you voting?" i can give them all the reasons i'm not voting for him and why his color has shown to be more of a crutch than a place of solidarity.

5)because i'm focusing on social issues.
dealing with and changing social issues are what will truly change this country and our system. once that is in place, the whole concept of "politics" and "politicians" will be arbitrary.

6) because i know the two evils this race will produce will be far from my ideals.
Obama is the democratic candidate. and i've made it clear that i've lost all political respect for him. and the Republican candidate looks as though it will be either Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, or Newt Gingrich. White Man 1, White Man 2, and White Man 3. they're all the same.
Newt has recently said he'd like the talk to the NAACP to help discuss ways to get Black folks off food stamps. Rick Santorum, another republican candidate, recently said he doesn't want to give Black people other people's money (welfare). so between Token Obama and a couple of white racist cunts who think every person on welfare is Black, what point is there in voting?
there isn't one.

comment. criticize. think.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Rift between Africans and the diaspora

not too long ago this post came across my dash on tumblr. you can read my response at the very bottom, so i won't repeat it. i mainly wanted to talk about the rift that exists and hopefully some solutions to building bridges and make amends.

i've spoken about this before in another post, and every time it gets brought up, i can feel hostility and pain on both sides. it is such a touchy subject that i have to remove myself from it at times because too many emotions arise from just speaking about my reality and my personal identity.

but it's become more and more evident to me that if we are to survive in this world, there has to be unity between us. ultimately, amongst all people of color, but we have to start in our own communities. i don't think it was a coincidence that the American revolutionaries that reached out to Africa or other diasporic communities have been swiftly assassinated, jailed, or considered the most dangerous by their respective governments. Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Marcus Garvey, etc. when detrimental links are shown between American (US) consumers and government, it is almost always silenced in some fashion because unity between us would mean unfathomable change on every level.
once we become unified and our struggles intertwined, there will be no mission that is unachievable.
so here are some ideas i've gathered from reading the views from those born on the continent and those that weren't that i think will aid in the bridge for both sides:

For Africans from the Diaspora:
Learn: it is a wonder just how little i knew about Africa last year, and the year before that, and before i read this one book or got linked with that blog. our system is sustained by our ignorance, so why would our public education have more than 2 pages on the entire continent of Africa?
go to the travel section and pick up books about Africa to get a basic feel (although, note, most of these books are written by white people who have their own experience in Africa that may or may not be based on their status as tourists/voluntourists).
the internet IS YOUR FRIEND. there is no excuse to not know about Africa, people from the continent, and various cultures within it. i have learned an immense amount of information from friends i've linked with through the internet, African blogs i've followed, and people i've met in person that have been very helpful. here are some blogs and websites about and from people from Africa:
Mingle: find out about African clubs, restaurants, organizations, and stores in your area. shop there, chit chat there, become facebook friends, etc.

Read: get some books and read your ass off. there are a number of fiction books from authors like Wole Soyinka, Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi, and Chinua Achebe that write about experiences in different African cultures. Chinweizu Ibekwe, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, John S. Mbiti, Cheik Anta Diop, and Ifi Amadiume are non-fiction writers that should be looked into as well. aside from books, read up on the history of different nations and colonialism. read about apartheid in South Africa, the Blood Diamond trade in West and Central Africa. read about respected leaders like Thomas Sankara, Patrice Emery Lumumba, Kwame Nkrumah and leaders that have aided in the destruction of their country like Robert Mugabe and Charles Taylor. and don't forget the revolutionaries such as Leymah Gbowee, Steven Biko, and Queen Nzinga. wikipedia does a great job of having a good amount of info about a country, its population, language, etc. all in one place.

Watch: Ousmane Sembene, one of my favorite filmakers from Senegal, has done a number of films about West African culture. search 'Africa' on netlfix (Lumumba is awesome!), youtube, vimeo, and Google Videos. there are a number of Nollywood flicks on youtube in full. watch them and ask some people you've become acquainted with any questions you may have.

Important to note: everything you read about and hear through the news is not always reality and that you must interact with the people in order to get their reality. no one else can tell their story. it is also imperative that you understand that Africa is a gigantic continent with an immense amount of diversity. what is true for someone in West Africa is not necessarily true for those in the Horn of Africa. even within the same country - Igbo is something separate from Ijaw and Yoruba.
classism and political rifts exist within African communities as well and those with money and political standing do not have the same reality as those without.
also, and most importantly for those trying to reconnect, understand that those living on the continent are not waiting for us to come back so that they can embrace us and have a period of mourning for our destructed history. they have their own lives and may not even know, let alone understand, those of us that wish desperately to return and reconnect. it isn't good or bad, it simply is what it is. this is something we have to understand and move on (something i'm still trying to do...).

For Africans from the Continent:
Learn: from what i've heard, most Africans know a lot about the US and even television shows from the US are aired in a number of African countries. those shows tell about the lives of rich/middle class white America. many African immigrants come to the US with stereotypes about Black Americans birthed from these diluted and edited media outlets.
the US is not a land of milk and honey where we all have money, good education, and equal access to prestige and power. racism, classism, and sexism are thriving in the US at this point and have since its conception. these media outlets and television shows will never show you the dozens of Black males the police have murdered, the Black and Brown women that have been forcibly sterilized or the number of Black people who are working 2+ jobs and still can't pay their bills. and it damn sure won't tell you about our history of lynching, genocide, and the systematic dehumanization of people of color. not just of Blacks in the US but of Native Americans and immigrants of color.
here are some blogs and websites of people from the diaspora that speak about our realities:

Read: there are a ton of books written about Black experiences in the US and other diasporic communities. writers in the US like Cornel West, Michael Eric Dyson, Saidiya Hartman, bell hooks, Angela Davis, and James Baldwin, and Stacey-Ann Chin are just a few. unfortunately, i cannot name any other writers off the top of my head from the Caribbean or South/Central America, so feel free to add to the list or do a simple google search. books that speak about our histories can be found from writers like Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Fredrick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston. and if these books are not available, google searches with yield just as much information.

Watch: watch films about slavery so you know what they did to us and why we are still recovering. i would suggest staying clear of most news outlets because they tend to focus on and even exaggerate negative aspects of us as a people. there are a number of contemporary films you can watch to see Black life in the US (like Precious), but almost all of these films come along with baggage so it is important to read the criticisms in addition.

Important to note: in turn, as your realities are not the same across the continent, nor is ours. i am from the southern US middle-class background in a small rural military community. this is not the same for someone raised in an urban lower-class (financially) background in Northern US. not everyone is rich in the US, regardless of what they tell you on the news. most of us live in debt up to our eyeballs acquired from college. public education may be better than some places around the globe, but there still exists a hierarchy in which rich white kids have better resources and opportunities than Black and Brown children living in largely colored communities.

i cannot speak of the other diasporic communities, but if you come to the US, understand that you are Black. you will probably get special treatment from whites that like to fetishize you or look at you through a pitying eye ("the poor malnourished, uneducated, savage African that just needs a pair of TOMS shoes and a check from UNICEF..."), but otherwise, you are Black and will be looked at the same way those of us born here are seen. that being, if you're male-a criminal/rapist and is you're female-an emasculating bitch best used as a sex object. all of these can be usurped depending on your level of assimilation, of course. this whole mess about i'm not Black, i'm Somali, i'm Igbo...ain't happening in THIS country. it is true, but once you step in this country, the color of your skin is most important. most people in this country could not tell you whether "Igbo" is a people from West Africa, or a city in Jamaica. and frankly, most don't care. so understand that you may spend ridiculous amounts of energy and time on foolish questions and categories Americans may try to force you into.
also, regarding those that want to reconnect with you, your culture, your country, etc. (note that it is not all of us...not even most...unfortunately) please understand that this is vital to some of us. there is a lot we simply do not know and/or have yet to understand about you or your particular culture. be patient, please. but don't be afraid to set us straight about misunderstandings.

comment. think. criticize. feel free to add to my list if you like.

Mother Tongues

i recently saw an article about languages that are dying around the world. it reminded me of an article i read in my Anthro book. here's an excerpt from my book speaking about the languages of origin for immigrants (or really just non-English languages) in the US or in countries that have a different language.

"If immigrant groups eventually lose their "mother tongues" in many if not most countries, this doesn't mean that the process occurs at the same speed in every group. why is that? why do some immigrant groups lose their language faster than others?

a comparative study by Robert Schrauf discovered the most likely reasons. first, Schrauf assessed the degree to which immigrant groups coming to North America retained their native language over time. the greatest retention was defined as when the third generation (the grandchildren of immigrants) continued to use the native language. Examples were Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Haitians.
on the other hand, the third generation in some groups as no comprehension of the native language except for isolated words. even the second generation (the children of the immigrants) mostly spoke and understood only English. Examples were Italians, Armenians, and Basques.

Schrauf then measured seven social factors that might explain longer versus shorter retention of the mother tongue. he looked at whether the group lived in tightly knit communities, retained religious rituals from the old country, had separate schools and special festivals, visited their homeland, did not intermarry, or worked with others of their ethnic group."

very interesting. i wonder if those that are in power who are so against second languages, particularly Spanish, know just what it means to sustain a language and what it does to family units to lose that language. if tight knit communities are the medium for maintaining a language, it mot certainly means a break-down in that if that language was to be lost or diluted.

comment. think. criticize.