Black Like Me
Virtues: race, distinction, etiology
Black like me, like who? Whether your background is Caribbean, American, or African, if you are black you share traits – people look at you with common expectations. However, amongst black people, we like to distinguish ourselves from each other, even though we essentially come from the same place – Africa. My background is Caribbean, but now I reside in North America (Toronto to be specific), and I once talked to this African woman; I thought that it would be just as usual if I was talking to a Jamaican or Trini, but I soon realized that I felt that our cultures were so different; I almost thought that I was dating a white girl. I was learning about different foods, traditions, heritage, attitudes that I thought that I should know (because we share the same race), but I was grossly mistaken.
In North America, you generally have two classes of black people: domesticated/westernized blacks & Africans. The former group comes from a diverse background; they have either migrated from the Caribbean islands and/or are the offspring of slavery. From the shores of Halifax Nova Scotia which was Canada’s first black population settlement, to the deep south of Mississippi, there is similarity of a shared struggle throughout history that exists even to this day; their heritage only spans from somewhere in the 1800’s – anytime before that, and the details of their heritage gets sketchy, fuzzy, like channel ‘01’. Similarly, the Caribbean people that have migrated to Canada & the U.S. for better prosperity share a similar heritage-like progression as they too have lost details about their history from around the 1800’s and even early 1900’s. This is significant to the domesticated/westernized blacks because they have a loss of culture; a loss of roots.
I know the enlightened person is like, ‘you shouldn’t group Caribbean’s with domesticated westernized blacks because their culture is different’, such a person would be right; but they share the same etiology – the etiology they share is different from African blacks.
It is the etiology that essentially creates the distinction and divide that exists amongst blacks – so much so that both groups are prejudice to each other. And with all types of prejudice behavior – it is a result of a lack of knowledge and respect for others. Meaning, that the Westernized blacks may know about the history of Africa (i.e. slavery), but currently, the Westernized blacks do not know much about the current state of their brethren across the Atlantic. According to the media, Africa is still full of savages, AIDS, poverty, and tribes.
In my experiences, both groups have an inherent bias towards themselves. The domesticated/westernized blacks believe that they are better than the Africans because they have been in the West longer, understand the western culture & ideals better, and have better language skills. Whereas, the Africans believe that they are better than the domesticated/westernized blacks because they believe that they have more heritage, know their roots, and are more ‘black’ (pure) than their brethren. So basically, this correlates into a subdued (or at times overt) attitude that people develop of ‘frowning’ and/or ‘looking down’ on others. Which really shouldn’t be the case, because in the end, while we battle ‘looking down’ at each other, the ‘man’ is looking down at us – laughing, exploiting as usual.
Think about that!