Alkebu-Lan (better known as the Country of “Africa”)

A few weeks ago I was having a casual conversation about what, I cannot recall at the moment.  What I do remember is an incident that occurred during the talk.

The topic of discussion was fairly random; from current events, to sports, to the going ons in our respective homes.  My acquaintance then began commenting on a colleague he knew from “Africa”.  Nowhere specific, just “Africa”.  This individual held some particular beliefs that my acquaintance found odd, to which he asked me, “But isn’t that how most African’s are?”  I looked at him, trying to hold back my incredulity and calmly responded, “How should I know?”

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a first-generation Nigerian, born and raised in the U.S.  Outside of a few stints here and there, I have spent the entirety of my existence in the U.S.  I do posses what many would call a “traditional Nigerian” name.  Regardless, I have come across this phenomena of People referring to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) as a single country on countless occassions.

It’s important to note that my acquaintance himself is the descendant of people taken forcibly from Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) hundreds of years ago.  To him, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a homogeneous, unvaried region.  It is his fault that he holds such views.  The many cultures, societies, and people who comprise Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is well documented.  My concern is that incidents like this are not isolated.  Read most articles or listen to most radio shows or television programs, and you will get steady dose of this narrative:

Africa = one big wild, weird, backward, tragic country. 

There’s almost a pride in knowing the least about it or being uninformed.  I’m curious as to how such an erroneous account became the standard.  Like all places, Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) has it’s share of problems.  Poor leadership, tension between ethnic & cultural groups, and difficult economic conditions have plagued the land.  But these are not unique to Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”).  All people, since the creation of time, have experienced violence, greed, poor governance, war, and economic hardship.   Like all places in this world Alkebu-Lan (the place most call Africa) is made of many different people with many different thoughts, views, and opinions.  I have yet visited or heard of a place where everyone though, felt, and acted the same way about anything.  Even here in the U.S., the bastion of all things civilized and well with mankind, you’d be hard pressed to find a state, let alone an entire region, who get alone and work together on a consistent basis.

So if it hasn’t been said, I’m saying it now:

Alkebu-Lan (the place most call “Africa”) is a continent comprised of 54 sovereign countries, and Western Sahara, a member state of the African Union whose statehood is disputed by Morocco.  There are people of all shape, size, color, and variety.  The continent has virtually all the types of landscapes found on this Earth.  It is place where people love, live, and do the best they can with what they’ve been given, just like we all try to do on this planet.

Spread the word.

“Black” People can be Racist

rac·ist
ˈrāsəst/
noun
  1. a person who believes that a particular race is superior to another.
    synonyms: racial bigot, racialist, xenophobe, chauvinist, supremacist

adjective
1.having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another.
“we are investigating complaints about racist abuse at the club”
Let me start out by saying that I am a descendant of Alkebu-Lan.  I am proud of my Yoruba-American heritage, and feel secure enough to share these thoughts with you.  Despite what i’ve just said, there may be some folks who still believe my message is biased.
I want to refute the adage that “Black” People (I don’t use this term too often, but for the sake of argument I will) cannot be racist.  I’ve heard this for years and never really paid much attention to it.  But while watching Black-ish yesterday evening, lead character Dre and his mom (played by the delightful Jenifer Lewis) argued with Rainbow that they were allowed some freedoms when it came to making judgments based upon race & ethnicity because as they put it, “Black People can’t be Racist”.
This is simply untrue.  But not only is it untrue, it it dismissive, devise, and irresponsible in nature.
To be considered a Racist, one only has to believe that one race, or races, is superior or inferior to another.  This means that a White person can be racist towards other White people, the same way a Mexican person can be racist towards Koreans, and vice versa. Anyone can be racist against any race or ethnic group, including their own.
The fact that people of color have been systematically marginalized and disenfranchised in the Americas, and all over the world, doesn’t give us the right to mistreat others.  “Two wrongs, doesn’t make a right”.  Frustration, and a feeling of powerlessness may be the root cause of such behavior.  Because most people of color most often do not find themselves in an advantageous position in relation to the dominant race of that society (in America it is Caucasians at the moment; in other countries and parts of the world it is obviously a different race) they give themselves a pass to misbehave.
-When a Latino dude come to the park or gym to play basketball, but is constantly passed over for other “better” players, is this not racism?
-In a school project, students flock to the Chinese students because they “want to get a good grade” is this not racism?
-An airplane is delayed, and a few passengers begin to express there displeasure.  One of them happens to be a woman who is a descendant of Alkebu-Lan.  She is looked at as an “Angry Black Woman”, while the others are just “voicing their concern”, is that not racism?
-In the entertainment industry, a white artist is given more kudos for performing in a genre that was pioneered by people of color because they “stepped out of the box and did something different” when countless other artists who are minorities receive little or no praise, is this not racism?
I have experienced racism from other descendants of Alkebu-Lan (although removed by their ancestors being brought to the Western Hemisphere by force) just like I have experienced racism at the hands of people from the Domincan Republic, Korea, Pakistan, as well as from Caucasian Americans.  I have been racist towards other descendants of Alkebu-Lan, as well as every other race and ethnicity.  It’s is no different because the outcome is the same: fracture, division, and anger.
For there to be a legitimate discourse on the topic of racism and race inequality, we all need to be honest about what the issue is and how we have contributed in both good, and bad ways.