Africans don’t get African Americans.
We might claim we do because of the colour of our skin but the truth is we have spent our time in Africa understanding black people and black culture by what we grew up watching on television.
Let me give you an example.
Song of the South.
I grew up loving this film. This film was everything to me and I will sing ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah’ from the top of my lungs just because I was bad like that. I was born in ’89 and grew up in the 90s and trust me when I say, the film played on Nigerian television every other month.
Guess what folks? Song of the South has been described as racist. It will also shock you to know that the original actor cast as Uncle Remus rejected the role. He called it “demeaning” and refused it. The actor (James Baskett) that ended up playing the character could not attend the film’s premiere in Atlanta due to segregation laws in Georgia. Even the NAACP at the time had a problem with the film because of the way “the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery…”
It was that deep.
Let us even not go too deep. Let us look at most of the shows or films we watched growing up. From Sounds of Music to Mary Poppins and Facts of Life. Now I am not saying they were racist but I am saying that we saw more white people on our screens than black people. The only black people on our TV screens were The Cosbys and later on A Different World.
The media has told us over time that white is the standard and that the white man is our saviour. They have succeeded over the years to let us believe that they are the standard for everything that is good with the world. The images of black people that we grew up with were gang members, violent criminals or the black best friend.
That is a problem.
What we see are half truths and false representations and we use that to form our mindset about them. Many Africans will go “black people in America are lazy” or “black people in America are entitled” or “black people in America should get over slavery.” We make these uninformed statements based on the misconceptions and stereotypes that the media has fed us.
Sad but true.
Check it out. There are a lot of misconceptions about our continent in the Western world based on what the media portrays. Don’t you think that it is the same problem African Americans are facing?
Why am I writing this article?
To be honest I have no idea but I know it is coming on the heels of the controversial Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner and how many of my African brothers and sisters don’t understand what the outrage is for.
Can we say that the above picture is too similar to that of Ieshia Evans at a BLM protest in Baton Rouge? It can’t be a coincidence.
I mean Dr King’s daughter explains it in this tweet.
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) April 5, 2017
The problem with this ad is how it makes light of the protests that people risk their lives to attend. I doubt there is a protest anywhere in the world that takes the form of a block party. One would think that considering the issues in the America, a brand like Pepsi will know better.
It is easy to talk about these issues because of social media. The world is a global village and we are more connected than we like to admit. We need to understand African American history and why things are the way they are. Thankfully, we can now read and be enlightened so we can know when a group of people have been marginalised for many years, it will take a while before they can catch up. It is just simple logic.
From issues of police brutality to the Black Lives Matter Movement; these are serious issues that people get killed and arrested for. We need to show empathy and not follow the rhetoric of the people who clearly have no understanding of the issues.I could go on but I think my hands are hurting from typing. I recommend you read “I’m Judging You” by Luvvie. She breaks down these issues so that anyone and I mean anyone can understand. Read my Sorta-Review here.
We are all in this struggle together and we need to understand these issues before making insensitive remarks on social media. I believe we can do better.