By Farayi Mungoshi
HOW far are we willing to go as Africans to fit in the Western world?
Allow me at this point to share with you a WhatsApp message that has been doing rounds on social media platforms. I do not know the author, or whether it was borrowed or not. However, the person who posted the message goes by the name Farida Nabourema and I found what she posted very relevant and straight to the point.
“They said our hair is kinky, we relaxed it. They said our religions are demonic, we abandoned them. They said our names sound funny, we now name our children after their saints. They said we are too dark and we started bleaching. How far can we go as Africans to fit in their world?” (How far are we willing to go as Africans to fit in, in their world?)
This should be the question we should be asking ourselves as Africans before grabbing things ‘given’ us by the West.
They came and studied us for a period before bringing out the Bible and their guns. We too should study them before opening our mouths to devour anything they ‘give’ us.
I am not advocating people to go out there and become racists, but rather approach everything with caution.
Do not allow anyone to bend your beliefs and culture in order for you to fit into the system of another.
The Western system was never meant to serve African people.
The story of your life does not begin at birth, it goes back thousands of years.
Many have called former US President Barack Obama names — that he was a puppet put in power to serve and push the agenda of white capitalists rather than serve the black community of America or the African nations.
But we must agree that ever since he came to power, African Americans have become more vocal, increasingly telling their story, especially in America.
For that, Obama must be thanked and as such I must also congratulate and thank the African-American film-makers for telling the story most African-American musicians have shunned and failed to tell, preferring to fan the lie that there truly is such a thing as ‘living the American dream’ for the blackman (in my example below I will show how one, supposedly living the American dream is reminded that he is black and therefore cannot fully enjoy all the benefits of ‘living the American dream’).
Remember Tu Pac, Mike Tyson and Bill Cosby, among a host of others! As rich as they all were/are, they still faced the wrath of the American ‘justice’ system.
Shots Fired and In Contempt are two African-American television series that explore and address racial issues as well as the cultural differences between whites and blacks in America in such an artistic manner that leaves one better informed about life as a black person living in America.
I have chosen these two because both stories reveal the injustices faced by blacks in an unapologetic fashion that makes one question everything we have been told or made to believe about America.
A large number of Africans dream of living in the US, some would, if they could, even sacrifice their own brother or sister just to get a visa to go there but the truth is that America really isn’t friendly to black folk.
The African-Americans living in the US (not by choice) tell a different story from that of hip hop artistes showing off flashy cars and million-dollar houses we see on TV .
The story of the ordinary African-American is one of suffering, pain, torture and injustice inflicted by the system which is pro-white.
Lynching and slavery are still alive in America, but the government, through Hollywood and the media, has worked hard at covering it up.
The two television series Shots Fired and In Contempt delve deeper into the sugar-coated American dream to reveal and justify what The Patriot has always said.
In Contempt is about a young African-American lawyer working for the government; representing and defending mostly unrepresented people who would have been brought to court for various crimes.
While the show cuts across and addresses issues affecting not just blacks, it is the colour issue that stands out.
In one episode, one of the lawyers (black male named Charlie) is arrested by a white racist police officer for admiring a red convertible parked just outside a bar where he was having drinks with his workmates.
He is taken to jail where he spends the night and the next morning he appears handcuffed before the judge.
The judge is surprised to see him because he knows him, so does the prosecuting panel and the security officers — in fact everybody who serves in that particular courtroom knows him because it is the same court he (Charlie) works in everyday.
The judge angrily tells the officers to remove the handcuffs and demands to know what was going on.
Upon being told that Charlie had been arrested for admiring a convertible parked outside a bar where he was having drinks, the judge immediately declares him a free man and apologises to him on behalf of the Justice Department.
Charlie goes home and decides to take a few days off.
He goes back to the neighbourhood where he grew up, maybe to reconnect with his blackness and remind himself that no matter how high he might fly, he still is a negro.
Regardless of how well-off Charlie is and being a lawyer, he was arrested mainly because he was black.
Most of us who have never been to the US or UK might not fully understand this kind of injustice and may overlook it, but ask those who are living there right now, whether they are happy and free!
They are not!