Part 4 of 4 | See Previous Post
In the United States, Africans aren't Black.
Black Americans and Africans are two distinctly different groups. It's difficult for people to understand this because of our shared complexion and origin, but Black Americans are their own people.
Black Americans have an experience in the United States that is specific to the transatlantic slave trade, not their origin in Africa. But African immigrants and first generation Africans have an identity outside of US slavery - especially because they have the privilege of knowing what country in Africa that they originated from.
Africans have the power to appropriate Black American culture. Africans can vacillate between accessing their African culture to identifying as "Black" - a group that lacks that ancestral relationship. Africans are able to appropriate the Black American struggle because we look like one another. But our history and experience in America is not the same.
The subjugation of Black Americans has been engrained in society for generations. Black Americans are not respected as having their own culture that they have exclusive access to. Instead, people take from it as they feel inspired to. But that is not supportive, that is destructive.
The relationship between Africans and Black Americans is complex. There are Black Americans who identity as Africans. And again, for them, that is valid. Black Americans reclaiming their lineage to Africa should be supported. They do not have the social or political power to appropriate African culture. But not all Black Americans share that same sentiment. And who they are in this world should be equally respected - especially when "Black" is the only identity that they have.
Africans experience oppression. But it is not the same oppression stemming from Black America's unique history to the transatlantic slave trade. After that pivotal point in US history, Black Americans developed their own identity and culture. It was not African. And Africans can support Black Americans by understanding their unique identity and history, not blindly feeling access to their culture because of their shared complexion.
If it is increasingly popular to highlight diversity, it is imperative we maintain that within the African diaspora. If we allow everyone access to the Black identity, that negates the experience of those who who most vividly experience that identity - and often die because of it. "Black" should not be an umbrella term that everyone with African ancestry identifies as. Black should be reserved for Black Americans - because that is the only identity that they have.