Black folks please stop misquoting African and world history in ways that are unfounded and ridiculous.
We must let our children know that Africa is a large continent.
Not a country but a continent made up of several countries.
I have heard some truly stupid responses and views on Africa and the world by folks who ought to know better.
Several years ago a close friend and I were perpetually entertained by a young brother who unrelentingly shared the insight he gained via a trip to Africa.
This afaux-centric fool repeatedly shared this wisdom: I have no need to physically visit Africa(not one country interested this scholar) I’ve been there in my mind.
No need to hop on a plane, leave the country or risk learning something, he’d taken his journey metaphysically.
When we are unaware that countries and their customs are individual and not monolithic, we run the risk of looking like bozos and not sounding to bright.
I recently watched a very great conversation with Jill Scott and Johnetta Cole about Botswana.
According to both of these women, there was never enslavement by outside forces and no racial apartheid system to endure and subsequently overthrow.
There were countries that resisted the lure and ultimate devastation that was Imperialism and Slavery.
With this one conversation, a great deal of personal thinking on my part was revamped.
While I had assumed that there was more to a continent than was being shared via the media and folks who had never been there, I couldn’t quite place the disconnect.
I now know the reason for faulty thinking on my part and those of others.
A lack of informed and investigative research that in turn would lead to fresh thinking.
We are collectively unaware that in some African countries the gender roles that we have come to expect in this culture are inverted.
Women sometimes are responsible for managing the agrarian segment while men tend to the care and emotional support of the children.
No one will discuss looking at what we’ve been told about Africa and the world.
When we want to see more of the world, unenlightened members of our community often scoff, make fun and belittle our desires.
My favorite lunatic (the partner in my first gay relationship) was one of these types.
Very early in our relationship, I expressed the desire to see the world and in particular Asia.
He laughed and flippantly and dismissively told me: Niggas don’t do that.
I went to Japan and lived there for six weeks some years later.
My baby sister has traveled to Italy, Ireland (before the age of 20)and lived in Paris for four months.
We are planning a trip to South Africa at some point.
We will not be ignorant travelers.
We will research customs and cultural differences before our departure.
There are folks who do not have racial ties to this continent who are far more informed and less ignorant about what Africa and the world is and is not.
In the absolutely wonderful and paradigm shifting series Number One Ladies Detective Agency, a white Scotsman creates a world of dark folks that is not concerned with overthrowing a repressive regime, feeding hungry children or otherwise having their existence defined and limited by the white gaze.
In addition to rethinking Africa and its place in the world as a global superpower, we must also stretch our imaginations in ways that will usher in a collective revisioning that includes the ways that things get done by other races.
I am often reminded of a conversation between my friend and a man who stubbornly insisted that the word “gay” has a universal meaning.
The argument was based on the confusion that what we term homosexuality in this country (an identity)is the same definition in other countries (behavior). It was explained as:men training men how to be with women at a later date.
Apparently, men are together until a certain age and then move into what we would term a permanent heterosexual union.
This is too much for folks who refuse to divest of ignorant assumptions that have very little to do with the reality of the lives of an entire culture.
What can we do ?
I struggle with this “new world order” because nothing annoys me more than a fool with a platform spouting nonsense.
We can encourage young people to read more, travel more and question more of what they see and hear.
We can demand more accurate and varied representations of a diverse and complex continent.
We can share our experiences with others of how and when our thinking changed.
We can also address the African connections that allowed slavery and domination to occur in their respective countries and examine the effects that we see exhibited currently then patiently and deliberately rewire our thinking.
What can you do travel more, talk less about things you either don’t know or are unsure of ?
We need more informed conversation not less.
Read. Travel. Research.
The information is out there.
We must demand it and settle for nothing less.
Time for change. Are you ready ?