Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Who is the “black community”? A basic education question

I should start by saying that nowhere in the world is the term “black community” used more than the United States; and there are many other countries in the world with people with dark skin and of African descent.

I have had some interesting and spirited discussions with people recently in this very early election cycle; elections always seem to bring out the worst in people, especially on social media. Anyway, I am often told “the black community needs to stop listening to rap music and stop black on black crime” (or some variation of that); these people doing the telling do not know me from Adam, the only thing they see is dark skin and they make an ASSumption (ass out of u and umption not me).

Since when does the color of one’s skin determine who they are, how they vote, what music they listen to, and how they are supposed to (or will behave)? While there is a common thread with the majority of African- Americans because of slavery, that in itself does not make a community; especially when you factor in the size of the United States. More recently in the U.S, there has been an influx of African immigrants who experiences, expectations, and culture have further change the dark skin color landscape. A religion like Judaism can be considered and create community because it is probably the religion most widely tied to a culture (Islam and Christianity vary widely by region).

Are all people with white skin supposed to be responsible for all white on white crime? Are all people with white skin supposed to be responsible for all the atrocities committed throughout history by other people with white skin? Obvious answer: so why then would you hold people with dark skin responsible for every crime committed? The answer to that is simple, you do not know any people with dark skin, and your perceptions are based upon fourth hand information at best. Perhaps you should exam poverty; the results might surprise you.

The continent of Africa where most people in the world with dark skin originated from (probably everyone but let’s keep it simple), is probably the most culturally diverse place in the world. In the country of Nigeria alone there are approximately 100 languages spoken there; languages not dialects. Skin color does not make a culture, it does not make everyone brothers or sisters, it does not means we are all the same.

People with dark skin are as diverse as there are grains of sand on a beach (even in the U.S) so do not see me and think you know me; and if you are someone with dark skin that applies to you as well. Do not expect me to know or even like the latest chart topping music; do not say that I am not “black enough” because you have been insulated in a bubble all your life. I do not blame you for your insulation and ignorance, but I do expect you to learn and expand your horizons.

So back to the topic, the term “black community” is a misnomer because it is based upon a perception of culture based on a spectrum of skin colors, and it is no more correct than the “white community”.

One of these days, the United States will truly reconcile its racial divide (there will be no choice if we want to continue to grow and prosper), and it starts not just by acknowledging it, but also truly working on it. Lip service to the problem does not count, dismissing and saying we are post-racial does not work, and perpetuating the system makes it worse (there is a system).
We have the tools, we have the people, and we have the ability to correct all this; but do we have the will yet?

Dr Flavius A B Akerele III

The ETeam

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