While there is a lot of appropriate rage about Ferguson right now, the killing of John Crawford, III is getting less attention than it deserves. I put Shaun King’s tweets and history lesson on the matter in chronological order for easier consumption.
You really should be following Shaun King on Twitter.
Iman going all the way off!
"I don’t have any white in me… I don’t want white people claiming me" !!!!!!!!
Go off, Queen Iman!
i was with her until the end…what she tryna say…africans in the americas aint got no “inherent africanness”? what dat mean…
I predominantly grew up in urban Africa, I have cousins who grew up in the rural area, our lives have been shaped by different things and therefore we carry ourselves differently. African Americans have been shaped by years in the diaspora, 9/10 if you put an African American next to an African you can tell the difference- there’s a difference between Iman and Beverly Johnson…both of them are African but you can tell there are differences… I mean, for example the accent. One would say the same for Lupita Nyong’o and Lauryn Hill, both African, both erudite, both incredibly different but c’mon one can tell that Lupita is African and Lauryn Hill is African American. And, there is nothing wrong with that…it’s just the way it is.
ok but what does that have to do with what she calls “inherent africanness”? does she mean as in directly-from=the-continent african? i mean even i know that “africans” and africans in the americas dont look alike. that goes without saying. but what i want to know is how in one breath she goes from talking about how there is no one african look, but then goes to say that there is some inherent africanness that sets africans apart from africans in the diaspora (and by that imma say that i mean the sons and daughters of the enslaved but she said african americans)…i dont know a lot about her so maybe im reading into this the wrong way. but the whole thing strikes me as…odd
Accent aside, let’s talk about demeanour.It’s expected that an African child should display a certain demeanour when interacting with elders or figures of authority. Now, I’m not saying that African Americans lack humility what I’m saying is that because of oppression and subjugation, Africans in the diaspora lost their culture
I’ll give you an example closer to home. Out of ‘hlonipha’ (respect) The typical african child is not expected to look their elder/figure of authority in the eye, also, when greeting their elder, they’re expected to hold their hand out in a very particular way, it’s all part of the culture. The level of humility an African displays is different from the level of humility that an African American displays, this all boils down to the fact that African Americans lost their culture in very brutal circumstances. Then again, who wants to go back to oozing oodles of humility in a society which punishes the humble?
I’ll give you an example which we are struggling with in my family. After the fall of apartheid those black South Africans who could afford it decided to ship their children to white schools. When these children come into contact with their white teachers aka elders/figures of authority they tend to soften their tone and avoid making eye contact, all this as a sign of respect. Guess what? They are met with accusations of disrespect/dishonesty, they are told they are too timid. White people have no problem with their children eye balling them “look me in the eye” is the stand phrase. On the other hand, the average african child is not expected to look their parent/elder/figure of authority in the eye, leave alone answer back. My nieces and nephews who are attending these ‘multi-racial schools’ find themselves in no man’s lands, doing a very having- in school they eyeball their elders but when they do that at home, they get into into trouble; at home they talk with their eyes cast down as a show of respect when they get to school and do the same thing, they are called timid/disrespectful/dishonest.
Truth is, every time the african finds himself in contact with whiteness, we have to cede a part of ourselves in order to survive or to fit in. Now, any right thinking african with an understanding of history should be able to understand that
a) Plymouth rock landed on African Americans
b) African Americans exist in a hostile environment and have had to adjust accordingly in order to survive or get ahead. I for one I’m of the opinion that by and large just because Africans in the diaspora do not compote themselves in a certain way does not mean they don’t have respect for their elders. I mean, people can say whatever they want to say about Jaden Smith but, this one time he was over on the Graham Norton show with his dad and I was bowled over by the way he stood up to shake the hand of a fellow guest. All things being equal African Americans expect certain behaviour from their children, the children’s demeanour may be different but the intent is the same- elders must be awarded their due respect.
I wholly concur with Iman, in that there are differences however, I don’t think they should be a bone of contention.
I’ll give you another example. When Miriam Makeba first moved to the States many people couldn’t get their heads around her, on one hand was this dynamic performer and vocal opponent of apartheid (to the point she was banned from ever going back to her country), on the other hand, she was very softly spoken, eyes cast down, she’d even courtesy to the likes of Harry Belafonte ( who she referred to as Big Brother- gave her her first break he did). One night she was over at Marlon Brando’s and they were having this fiery debate about politics, and he was like “who are you?’, one minute it’s all eyes down and then next thing you are popping some fierce rhetoric…in a very soft voice!” And Mam Zenzi told him, “where I come from, you earn respect by showing humility”. In the traditional African society, humility begets respect. Like you get serious points for bowing and scraping for your elders I kid you not. Now me, I grew up in the city far away from these things,granted I picked a few things from my mother but it wasn’t until I was well into my 20s that I developed an appreciation for my rural raised cousins with their shy demeanour, reserve, downcast eyes and flitting smiles. Those girls would act naive but they could be stubborn as hell, it took me years to know they were no pushovers and they knew their minds! Truth is, this kind of attitude only has currency in certain places, I for one know that I can’t expect to bow and scrape like that and survive in a western society, especially not in the corporate arena.
Another example. It’s interesting the way Winnie Mandela is portrayed in films. She is portrayed as this loud, fiery woman when in reality, she’s a very softly spoken. Xhosa women don’t raise their voices unless they have to but the are still the most kick ass women you’ll ever come across. She’s a Mpondo woman, Mpondo people in general are fierce, the Mpondo resistant movement lasted the longest in Xhosa land- in comparison to the Thembu’s (Tata Madiba’s people) who capitulated rather quickly . Mam Winnie was to the manor born and she took on a fight started by her ancestors but, she’s not loud she’s very softly spoken she had to adjust her demeanour when she became the mouth piece of the resistance movement, the more the boers piled into her the more her rhetoric more fierce and she acted more and defiant. Truth is, she was a very reserved woman, highly intelligent, hard working but very reserved.
Lupita is another one. I remember I was on this message board and there were all these AA’s going like ‘so this chick is just going to traffic in that naivete vibe?’. I had to laugh. Lupita is just a typical african girl, open smile, a smile devoid of any guile, prone to giggling and talking with her hands. To be quite honest there times I’d look at her on an interviewer’s couch and think ‘less Nairobi more New York’ please.
We are all africans but we do things differently, the rural african is different from the urban african, the urban african is different from the african in the diaspora, the immigrant african is different from the african descended from slaves. African Americans do not traffic in ‘naivete’ and I have no qualms with that. Africans on the other hand have a certain demeanour and I have no qualms with that either.
I’ll tell you this, Iman is a very lovely person many years ago, a friend of mine had the opportunity to work for her when she was launching her make up brand and Iman treated them very well. She is very socially aware, she knows what time it is, when she was discovered she was at Uni studying Politics and International Relations, she’s always been steeped in her blackness/africaness. Having said this, I think she was really hurt when she showed up and the African American models turned on her. They are the ones who came up with that comment that she looked like a white woman dipped in chocolate. They were upset because they couldn’t understand why the agency had overlooked them and gone all the way to Africa to look for the supposedly next black top model, only to come back with “a white woman dipped in chocolate”.
thanks for sharing all of that with me. i learned some new things!
but i have to disagree. in a lot of ways we africans in the americas to varying degrees did lose a lot of our culture, but we also retained a lot. africans in the u.s. DO have rules about respecting elders, they are just different. you dont walk into a room without acknowledging the presence of the people already there. you dont call the elders by their first names. there are ways of being polite that include body language and word choice. but we are also not a monolith, neither is africa right, so while their may be similarities across our communities there are also differences.
i could go on about the retention of cultural practices by africans in the americas but that wasnt my original point or question
still, demeanor aside, putting the fact that africans in the americas DO have cultures that are heavily influenced by those of our ancestors aside, what does that have to do with the innate africanness that she speaks of? because, speaking honestly, we africans in the u.s. do respect our elders, but i dont see the connection with my initial question.
I never once said that African Americans do not have rules about respecting elders. I’m fully aware of the bolded especially the requirement never to refer to elders by their first name. I don’t like the way white people allow their children to refer to their elders by their first name. When my daughter was about 8 yrs old, I was left grappling with this issue- in her school they were allowed to refer to teachers assistants / music instrument peripatetic teachers by their first names. This casual use of first name irked me to no end. So I encouraged her to always insert relevant title e.g Ms Sally, Mr Paul, Ms June etc. And this is something I learnt from watching “Girlfriends”….Tony was dating a single parent and when the child called her by her name, Tony pulled her up and said "it’s Miss Tony". Problem solved. So, going forward, I told my daughter anyone who isn’t Auntie (cue all the mothers of her black school friends) was referred to as Miss_________ (insert first name).
I’ll be honest with you, Nairobi folk think they’re too hip for culture to the point where I feel the vast majority are lacking in manners to the detriment of the society but. If you go to the rural areas or other cities say Dar (Tanzania), Kampala (Uganda) young people carry themselves differently. In submission, I know that Africans haven’t cornered the market when it comes to instilling manners in their chidlren. Contrary to what the media would like me to think, just from observation I know that all things being equal, african american parents do not play when it comes to instilling manners in their children. In my post, I even went on further and cited Jaden Smith and the way he compotes himself around his elders. People might think the Smith children are forward however, it’s the little things they do that show you that Jada and Will have raised them in a certain way, very much in keeping with African American/ African values. I’ve always said, all the other nasty stuff you see in the media is not African American culture, it’s street culture.
Having said that, you have to admit that the African’s demeanour is different and I’m speaking from experience. Speaking for myself, I’m a mixture of urban, rural and diaspora. For example, at work,I refer to much older colleagues by their first name, it took me years to come to terms with this. Out of reasons for self preservation I quickly realised the african good girl act doesn’t hold any currency here (in the diaspora/ with white people), I had to learn to get my boot in there to make sure some folk didn’t take me for a fool.
I recognise that African Americans were brutalised out of their culture and then they had to make adjustments in order to a) fit in b) survive. Truth is, a black person cannot carry themselves with that African humility in a predominantly white society and survive. No. You can’t look down when people expect you to look them in the eye. Heck it behoves you to look up otherwise people will confuse you for a fool. However, despite the loss of culture / cultural practises, over all, there are many things that indicate that Africans (in this case we are talking about African Americans) in the diaspora have retained core values. And by this, I’m not referring to say those who adhere to Santaria and stuff like that. I’m referring to speech patterns, manner of address, certain protocols, values, food… jazz music ( the call and response, the principles of democracy embedded in that style of music), it’s in the way African Americans name their children with so much exuberance QUEVANZHANE! Names in Africa are a huge deal. A name like Quevanzhane says, ‘look at us, look at what we have produced…my child is unique and fashioned for great things!’ Beautiful.
I’ll give you other examples
a) Standard African American catch phrase/greeting, ” I see you!”. That’s a standard greeting in many parts of Africa. The Zulus greet each other by saying "Saubona!", translation " I see you!". And what a beautiful thing to tell someone no? “I see you”.
b) It’s in the way rappers pour libation. In many African cultures, alcohol is poured into the ground to mark celebration and to honour the ancestors ( from dust we came, to dust we will return, we are one with the earth. It’s interesting that the alcohol is poured into the earth, it’s rather telling , many african resistance movements were born because of the land question. When white folk started taking off with the land, black folk went "hang on a minute? Not the land…when our children are born this is where we bury their umbilical cord, when we die to dust we return, our nourishment comes from the soil…so hang on a sec, get your hands off the land, we have a covenant with the land"). The libation is poured in the soil. Even Tupac knew and upheld that covenant. Buyah!
c) It’s the way rappers roll in entourages. In africa, individualism is often frowned upon. The land was owned and farmed collectively. Even today, in rural africa, people work in groups, they take turns to go round and prepare each others the land or harvest the crops. Farming aside. Visits to in-laws are planned affairs and one is expected to roll in with an entourage and in turn you’ll be met by an entourage. “Who are your people?” is a common phrase. No one wants a person without a people. A person without a people is considered with suspicion after all, who will vouch for you, who will testify on your behalf…what are you hiding! You get me? So this whole thing of rappers moving with an entourage is an African practise unfortunately, some people abuse the whole system, they end up leaching off the person who brought them instead of providing guidance and support.
d) It’s in the way rappers name check their crew and those who came before them, they brag about themselves. In africa, everyone is a member of a clan (never mind some urban Africans don’t seem to know their clans). So when we’d go to my grandparents yard, my grandmothers would shoot to the gate to meet us and they’d be thanking the ancestors, name checking those who came before us and throwing down all the clan bragg=iing rights. Different clans lay claim to different bragging rights…produce the strongest warriors/ produce the most beautiful, hardworking girls/ can drink you under the table. Steve Biko’s clan they have a catch phrase ” we don’t steal we just borrow your things for safe keeping”. Ha! White America see these rappers bragging/ name checking and think it’s pure machismo when in reality it’s a traditional african practice. I see similarities, it’s in the way an African American mother will look at her daughter and praise her legs or praise her skin, compare it with butter…these turns of phrase confirm that innate Africanness.
e) The funerals…what do you call that…going home celebration? In Africa, burials are festive affairs, the funerals are separate from the home coming celebration though. The home coming celebration takes place months after the burial. Family members gather from far and wide, animals are slaughtered, traditional liquor is brewed, speeches are made. All this is done in order to welcome the spirit of the dead back home. The remains rest in the graveyard but the spirit comes back to inhabit the space in which s/he lived. It’s very much in keeping with the belief of life after death- when one passes they move into the spiritual realms where they can guide us and intercede for us.
I must confess, I am curious to find out about various cultural practices carried out by african americans. I know in the South, New Orleans they have interesting funerals that sort of thing. I’d dearly love to know of other rites and rituals.
So rest assured, I for one believe that despite everything, despite the brutality and oppression and subjugation, the African in African Americans is ALIVE! I don’t think Iman was trying to be insidious. I think she was talking about the degrees and I wholly concur with her. I believe that there are external influences which have created degrees of separation. I extrapolated my thinking further to illustrate that there are degrees of variance, not only between recent immigrants and those who are descended of slaves but, between the rural african, urban african and african in the diaspora. Even in the diaspora there is a dichotomy between recent arrivals and those who were stolen. In all this, the one african I pity is the urban African, for he has allowed cultural decay to take root in his home to the extent where his children do not even speak his language. What a sad state of affairs but, he has only himself to blame!
Judging from your statements, I get the feeling that deep down you know exactly what irked you about Iman’s statement. Pray tell, what is it? Be honest. Let’s talk about it.
Today’s the day. The day you help save the internet from being ruined.
(Long story short: The FCC is about to make a critical decision as to whether or not internet service providers have to treat all traffic equally. If they choose wrong, then the internet where anyone can start a website for any reason at all, the internet that’s been so momentous, funny, weird, and surprising—that internet could cease to exist. Here’s your chance to preserve a beautiful thing.)
Breaking news: The D.C. Appeals Court just killed Net Neutrality.
This could be the end of the Internet as we know it. But it doesn’t have to be.
Tell the FCC to restore Net Neutrality: http://bit.ly/1iOOjoe
they want to make the internet like tv. with channels and paying to get to specific websites and things. net neutrality = not doing that
This impacts every internet user. Please signal boost the hell out of this and sign the petition if you are American
I do not reblog things like this very often, but this affects me both personally and my business as a freelance artist.
In the economy here; cash is already strapped as it is. You bet your ass companies would suck the ever living life out of misc. art sites.
I don’t want it to ever come down to me choosing between groceries or purchasing a new tier package via comcast to be able to access tumblr or DeviantArt (let alone not guaranteeing I’ll even be seen by my customer base since they may not want to pay out their asses either). It doesn’t seem important to most, but I do 90% of my business online entirely.
Please sign up, fight for this and share it with your followers/friends/family and urge them to give them hell as well.
Not writing related, but this is incredibly important. While we pay for service via ISPs, the internet has been a relatively free space where everyone, no matter their income level, is able to connect, access a wealth of information, and express themselves. The Internet has become a major part of our culture as human beings and the notion that ISPs might be able to limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more is utterly sickening. A lot of us are cash strapped as is, and I’d rather not be limited even more by someone else’s greed. Net Neutrality is essential and I hope you guys will understand why it needs to remain.
P.S. Signal boost this if you’re able.
“ limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more”
limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more
limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more
limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more
limit what sites I can access unless I pay them more
DO YOU WANT THIS? NO?? CLICK THE LINK. REBLOG.
when you see a cute white boy and wonders if he likes black girls.
when you see a cute black boy and wonder if he likes black girls
this is so true and very sad.
The life of being a black girl.
Especially those in America
"Love In the Time of Tear Gas." Picture from Ferguson