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Fixing the social distance between Africans & African Americans

06 Oct 2020

Fixing the social distance between Africans & African Americans

The white-dominant society portrayed and still portrays Africans as primitive
savages, while black Americans are projected as “advanced savages” because they live in
a civilized “White” society. The media is said to portray African Americans as
determined to destroy themselves and the society with their propensity towards violence
encoded in their genes and rooted in their African origin (Mwakikagile, 2009).

This has resulted in the development of stereotypes and misunderstandings perpetuated by media
representations for both Africans and African Americans about Africa and about the
United States, presenting each other as different ethnically and historically.

The Western media penchant reports on Africa’s disease, hunger, and war rather
than the continent’s successes (Mwakikagile, 2009). The rich history and culture of the
African people are often excluded from media representations of the continent. As early
as elementary and high school, education regarding African history is either excluded or
scarcely discussed in the United States. In a study on the images of Africa, U.S. seventh
and twelfth graders associated Africa with wild animals, jungles, naked people, huts,
diseases, and primitive uneducated people who believe in witchcraft (Hicks & Beyer,
1970). Such negative perceptions arise from the misinformation presented by a majority
white society and from a “White” colonial worldview. This stereotypical view of Africa
is a by-product of slavery and racism in the minds of many people, which proves difficult
for African immigrants to dispel upon their arrival in the U.S. (Mwakikagile, 2007;
Traore, 2003).

Unfortunately, the representation of Africa as the “Dark Continent” has negative
impacts on the African Americans’ view of Africans. If the images predominated in the
minds of African Americans include that of wild animals and Tarzan, it makes the
“African” in African American something to be avoided or reviled (Traore, 2003). As a
result, a negative perception of Africa is formulated, which includes a view of the
ancestral homeland, as a “primitive,” “backward” people and place in need of
civilization. Consequently, African Americans may wish to separate themselves from the
only Africa they know, which is termed “wild”, “primitive” or “third world.” The
Modern Afrocentrist, Malcom X, asserted that the Negro hated Africa because he was
made to hate it and unconsciously was made to hate himself or herself (X, 1990).

African immigrants who journey to the Western world often experience
discrimination and mockery at the hands of their black counterparts. African students in
an urban high school stated that they were called denigrating names such as “jungle boy
or girl,” and were sometimes physically and/or emotionally abused (Traore, 2003).

Evidently, the hatred and rejection of Africa developed by African Americans is
projected unto Africans, which serves as a tool for reinforcing the scarred relationship that exists between both groups.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of fascinating, unseen sides within well-known countries, such as Morocco and Tanzania. Why do so few travel shows not venture beyond the standard safaris and snake charmers? Aren't you interested in more than that?

Just like there are many sides to America, there are many sides to Africa. Can you imagine if Africans stereotyped Americans just like they stereotypeAfricans?

Clearly, Americas image of Africa is wrong. Yes, of course, there are trouble spots. Africans have their Detroits and Hurricane Katrina too. And yes, there are some fantastic safaris and pyramids tourists can enjoy, just like Americas Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty are worth seeing too. However, just like you don't like it when foreigners have a simplistic view of America, you ought to update our view of Africa. black community minnesota protest protests george floyd judge judy

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