Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It’s Not Black vs. African: CHECK YOURSELF

{photo credit: An Xiao}

I wrote an article about how Black people sometimes appropriate Nigerian and African culture ( and below in black you can see one of the responses I got. my responses to that response is below in pink. I responded point by point and inserted my responses into their response. I’m YE. SKelly is the person who responded to my article and is SK below.

SK: # 1 - you can't have both. you can't "claim soul music, hip hop", etc., & maintain your elitist african-ness @ a distance from all us heathen american blacks.

YE: I’m not elitist and neither is my article. I can and do claim hip hop and soul music and many other forms of music. I live in the States and I’m African. hip hop is based on African music, as are most forms of music in the States. I claim hip hop like I claim soca, the blues, calypso, etc, because these are a wo/manifestions of African music and rhythms throughout the world. I did not create hip hop and I never said I did. I also never called anyone a heathen. that sounds like your self-hate talking.

SK: 2 - if she was born here then that makes her a true african american.

YE: nope. I’m Nigerian. #labelfail. also, why are you now speaking to me in the 3rd person when you were just speaking to me in the 2nd person? #grammarlesson. you can talk directly to me, my assistant did not write the article, I did.

SK: it seems as though many of our kin from the continent think of us as 'slaves' - when mainland africans were part & parcel of our becoming slaves, & NO accountability is taken for that. my mother's ghanaian significant other mentioned that the slave trade is never mentioned in african schools - the party line is that we just 'went away' as if on vacation. talk about a sideye.

YE: I don’t think of Blacks in the u.s. as slaves, once again, sounds like your self-hate talking. if some Africans sold Blacks into slavery…how is that my fault or even relevant to this conversation? who said I was ignoring that? this article is not about that. your mother’s Ghanaian significant other is an expert on every single African school in all 54 countries and what’s taught by all the teachers not only today but for the past 400 years during and after slavery? unless this person has extensively studied this topic, that individual can speak to THEIR experience, not that of an entire continent. but thanks for that tokenizing. #sarcasm. “the party line”? and you know what “the party line” is because you went to school in Africa? #sideeye or you THINK you know this because of a comment someone made about THEIR experience that you are now GENERALIZING and TOKENIZING to make an EXAGGERATION about an entire continent? #sitdown

SK: 3 - hate to bring this up, but as many good nigerian private citizens as there are out there doing real work, it may take more work on an activists part to discern them from those who run the myriad scams that nigerians are famous for - so why is she hating on ppl who help set up schools in third world countries? - wierd.

YE: you’re right. #sarcasm. we should all thank the missionaries who brought their white god to Africa. many racist whites have claimed that they should be thanked for saving Africans from the “uncivilized” African continent via slavery. by these racist, white imperialist standards, they were “helping” and “improving” the lives of Africans by enslaving and raping them. should they be thanked as well? the NYPD thinks they’re bettering the streets by brutalizing people of color daily. should they be thanked for their hard work? how about the KKK that made it their business to eliminate the supposed threat of Black men to white women by lynching them—should they be thanked? also, how can one distinguish between all those dangerous Black criminals and the “good, Black private citizens” just working to support their families? this is your internalized racism talking. are you seated? get up so you can #sitdown

SK: we have been divorced from our culture, & are fascinated by it why is she so scornful of that?

YE: I don’t scorn fascination with a lost culture. I just don’t tolerate the disrespectful appropriation of my culture.

SK: if she's SO nigerian, then maybe that's where she should live. but she won't do that b/c by her own admission, she will get treated with the same snotty 'tude that she bestows upon black americans, & doesn't want THAT.

YE: I never said any of that. I travel back and forth between the States and Nigeria. um, you don’t know me. #sitdown. I actually get lots of snotty, ignorant attitudes in the States. Case and point: this dialogue right here. if I were to go back to Nigeria to live permanently, I’d like to take my oil with me, is that okay with you? since the u.s. in the 3rd largest exporter of Nigerian oil, I’m pretty sure that whatever car, bus, train or airplane you are a passenger in is partly or completely running on my fuel. from my country. which you just “suggested” I go live in because you disagree with me. since I’m leaving, I’m gonna take all the blood diamonds with me, the gold, cacoa and rubber exported from Africa to the States. I’m also gonna take with me the coltan and tantalite with me; these 2 minerals are used to manufacture many things including DVD players, video games, cell phones and the computer you typed this ignorant response to me on. I’m gonna take hip hop, soul, the blues, allll that with me too. it might be a bad look for you if I were to take myself and all my resources with me.

SK: is she trying to claim that africans don't travel? let's talk bourgoise - not only do they travel - extensively, but most mainland africans TO THIS DAY keep a servant or two - still haven't learned about that little iron-clad class system of theirs.

YE: I’m not TRYING to say anything. I said that Africans aren’t tourists in the first world and don’t co-opt culture in the way westerners do. yes Africans travel. of course, if we didn’t travel, how did I get to New York? #logicfail. yes some (very few) Africans have maids. what point does that prove? there’s a very select number of people who have maids. hella people around the world have maids or “servants” as you refer to them. Africans often travel to first world countries to attain some of the privileges that have been denied our countries because the wealth of the first world is not only built on our third world backs but exists because our resources have/are stolen and/or exported. that’s why we travel most of the time—to come use the resources that the first world took, stole and/or bought at the lowest of prices. and…what’s a mainland African? I’ve never heard that term in my life. and I’m pretty sure no African has either.

SK: now here's where i get really confused: she claims to be 100% nigerian, just BORN here... & in another breath, that her great grandmother is trinidadian - but she isn't. so which one is it? b/c that type of mix makes her patently afro-american.

YE: I don’t think people say “Afro-American” anymore. I think it disappeared along with “Negro” awhile ago. I’m not Trinidadian. #shrug. #labelfailAGAIN

SK: & then in the end, she wants to talk global community. my senegalese SISTER, who has walked the catwalks of paris, & keeps a DOPE apartment on gold st. while she lives part of the year in dakar, NEVER tried to sell me a load of bull like this.

YE: um okay. yaaaaay tokenization! does this make your point more valid because you throw in the behavior of an African woman? do you want a cookie for that one?

SK: methinks the author is plagued with issues, & may need to do a little research of her own; specifically w/regard to her own persona. she seems to fully identify w/hip hop culture & yet divorce herself from the people who created it/fought for its/our freedoms.

YE: I have never and will never divorce myself from Blacks in the States—that would be impossible. to divorce someone, one has to get married. to get married, one has to be separate and seeking a union. I am not separating myself from Black people, we are linked forever. there are distinctions between our cultures and experiences, yes, but we are part of a global Black community. of course I have issues. having issues is inherent to being a human being. me having issues does not take away from the validity of what I’ve written.

SK: this is disrespectful, patronizing, callous, & soulless much of the things we accuse white colonists of being.

YE: I think that’s an extreme and inaccurate assessment of my article and is a more accurate description of what you wrote than what I did.

SK: the author needs to check herself.

YE: I check myself on the regular as part of my practice of being a loving, revolutionary, tender human being. Do you? it’s fine to disagree with me, but it’s not necessary to personally attack me, be deliberately rude, tokenize the Africans in your life to make a point or make vast generalizations that are based on no research and no experience. I have no problem whatsoever with people disagreeing with me—let’s talk and share perspectives. what I do take issue with is having people project their issues with their own ethnicity, race or with Africa and Africans onto me. it’s not my fault that Blacks were kidnapped from Africa and enslaved nor do I reinforce or benefit from any of the ideologies that disrespect and degrade Blacks in the States. given this, to hurl insults at me is unnecessary and irresponsible. clearly, you’re speaking from a place of deep pain, anger, ignorance and, at times, stupidity. CHECK YOURSELF. and sit down.


Luna said...

This is getting heated, yo.

*looks around*
*wonders deeply*
*looks introspectively*

I have already spoken my piece, son.


Rose O. said...

This sounds all too familar; at any time an african disagrees with an american (more blacks than whites) the first retort is "well if you don't like it, go back to Africa".SMH. It has become like the "your mama" rebuttle; as in I don't have anything else to say so yeah, your mama. Like you said Yvonne, its ok to disagree without being disrespectful.

All the same, I read, understood and enjoyed the article, and while SK obviously didn't "understand" it, we still need more positive Africans speaking out.

Stay strong!


bLaKtivist said...

Sides are irrelevant. Uhm fly... LOL, please tell me this is the last breath you'll waste on this conversation?

But way to #read hun... SURGICAL.

If you do end up responding again, I need to see a recap in real life. This needs to be in some sort of performance piece. TOO Funny.

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