The divide between Africans and African-Americans has not been an easy bridge to close. The average African comes to the United States with nothing more than a pair of shoes and a dream, and within a short time has been able to attain a marginal level of success. Many African immigrants such as Nigerians, Senegalese, South Africans and Kenyans are living the American dream without a proper understanding of the unwarranted disenfranchisement that their brethren already living in the United States experience.
It’s easy for Africans or Caribbean’s to misconstrue why African-Americans are in the economic downfalls in most major cities.
So, why does any of this matter? It matters because racism has reared its head differently in our varying past trajectories, we have both been marginalized because of the color of our skin whether you are living in the deep Jim Crow south, or in the shanty towns surrounding South African’s Apartied system. There are different names and faces, but at the end of the day Africans and African-Americans are all a part of the same story.
The truth is that our story should not be the African versus African-American theme in the United States because if it were, then American history would win every time. However, the solution is for both groups to find alternative measure in bridging our cultural gaps, which has great economic and social opportunities for both cultures.
Our communities are all the same, if you’re Nigerian, Senegalese, and Kenyan or from Mississippi, the story is the same. For example, African-Americans tend to group behind in education performance, suffer the most from lack of health care and financially, when discussing investment, we finish last. In order to stop poverty from defining who we are, now is the time to move forward as one people by telling our own story and supporting ourselves economically.
Africans, being taken from their homeland to America irrevocably broke the cultural bond between them and those who were left behind in Western Africa– creating historical and social divides. With the struggle for civil rights being considered a fundamental part of the African-Americans’ experience, it is believed that African groups who have arrived in the last 20 years – by choice – can’t relate to, or truly understand, the civil rights movement nor the “African-American experience.” In fact, larger numbers of recent African and Caribbean immigrant’s means that the face of black America is changing, which directly means Africans and African-Americans, will have to get along because they will be rubbing up against each other economically.
Yet this provides an interesting opportunity, as that link to African culture is still available, but misperceptions of both groups still act as a barrier from doing business, marriage and simple interactions. Let’s observe: indeed there are parts of Africa that are extremely poor, war torn and destitute, but there are parts of Africa that are wealthy and gorgeous. In fact, in the past 10 years, many parts of western and southern Africa have seen a major economic success in industries like petroleum, and in science and technology which could directly benefit African American groups living in the United States. This came to mind as I recently noticed in Forbes magazine the annual “Billionaire’s List,” which include a section dedicated to the wealthiest Africans in the world. The Forbes list, reminds us that Africans, as well as African-Americans have a keen understanding of economic awareness and wealth building.
Clearly, if we had the wealthiest Africans and the wealthiest African-Americans, working together by generating billions through commodities such as sugar, textiles, real estate, oil and gas, we could change the economics of Black people globally. Realistically, while admirable in their respective right, African-Americans aren’t really operating on the same global economic level nor creating the same impact as Africans. Let’s compare: We all love Oprah Winfrey, according to Forbes whose net worth is approximately $2.7 billion; BET’s Robert Johnson, is at $550 million; and Michael Jordan is approximately at $500 million, but it’s primarily based on media and entertainment, not infrastructure and commodities.
So what’s interesting is that top wealthiest Africans earned their fortunes in oil, gas and real estate, whereas the top wealthiest African Americans, traces their fortunes directly to sports and entertainment, wants versus needs. It appears there are great things that African Americans can learn about success and self-determination from Africans.