We Are Family!Oct 30, 2021 10:00AM ● By Karen Warrington
“You live in huts in the jungle, and you don’t know Jesus because you practice hoodoo and voodoo stuff.” I had just settled into a chair in a Senegalese braid shop in Center City, Philadelphia when this ignorant sanctimony penetrated the shop’s calm. I had expected an afternoon of peace while these expert braiders practiced their perfection on my textured hair.
I couldn’t believe the ignorance that was coming out of this woman’s mouth. She was probably in her forties and she was an African American, just like me. While I was disgusted by her tirade, in a sense I understood that after years and years of consuming negative images of Africa and Africans put forth by the news media, the movie industry, and even esteemed scholars, that she was merely spewing the uncouthness and lies she had been fed.
Tarzan, Ramar of the Jungle, and public television documentaries and their endless preoccupation with Africa’s animals rather than the people of Africa is the looped narrative that has infected our consciousness.
But don’t get it twisted, the characterization of Black Americans as hoodlums, pimps, and drug dealers who are largely uneducated are also images that many Africans on the continent have digested into their consciousness. Like Malcolm X said,“You’ve been had! Ya been took! You been hoodwinked! Bamboozled.” And, while I was, in my head, trying to deconstruct the deliberate cultural destructive misrepresentations, I heard one of the braiders whisper in French, “Et, je vous connais aussi, parce que je regarde Jerry Springer a la television.” Translation: And, I know you also, because I watch Jerry Spinger on television.
In our minds, when do Black people consider themselves brothers, sisters, or even distant cousins? While there is certainly DNA that matches us up, what do we really know about one another? Century after century, decade after decade, “scholars”, both European and American, have deluged the world with negativity to support and justify the theft and rape of Africa and the kidnap and enslavement of Africans. And today, not only do the negative stereotypes continue, but African Americans and Africans new to America don’t seem to be fully committed to the notion of the Black diasporan embrace. We all must understand that we are FAMILY!
Karen Warrington has had a decades long career as a broadcast journalist, communications professional, performing artist, and documentary filmmaker. She has traveled extensively throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. She is committed to being a voice for the African Diaspora.
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