Here’s one truth, black folk are all home grown Negroes in one space and international blacks in another. In other words, apparent privilege is often attached to location. I’m a Black British chick, a daughter of the diaspora with parents born and raised in Ghana from two different tribes. I have an Ashanti mama and an Nzema daddy. I claim multiple identities: tribe, color, country, continent. I am Black, Black British, British, Ashanti, Ghanaian, African. So, in London, I am a home grown negro, it is where I was born and mostly raised. In New York (where I now live), I am black, I am an international black. I often hear intelligence ascribed to my Britishness by white Americans, and a somehow superior sense of knowing myself due to being Ghanaian and having a mother who is Ashanti and a pop who was Nzema by black Americans. In South Africa, I am simply another black African - another home grown negro - until I speak, and then my British accent affords me very specific privilege among some white South Africans and I then become an international black, superior - in their eyes - to black South Africans - their home grown negroes.
white supreme,act.. playing us like some fucking fiddle
^^^^^^^ exactly what it is…
i was gonna rant about my sisters annoying fake “British” accent but I wont. It just grinds me she does it in the house, what are you trying to protect yourself from with that accent in the house though?
This is true.
Taking this dialogue further, in the context of what I’ve witnessed in the US, white Americans are more comfortable being around African immigrants (international blackness in general), than Black Americans. When they get to know them, they look at them as the “model minority”, outside of Asians of course. Especially if the African immigrant is a student, an academic or a working professional, which let’s face it is a big chunk of African immigrants.
The acceptance of international blacks by whites is skewed in favor of those who are middle upper class and higher. With respect to many of the educated and working professional African immigrants (the ideal international black), where some of them falter is that they start to believe that racism is something that Black Americans complain about and that all you need to succeed is drive and determination. After all, they are successful and they emigrated here. This is what they think, and white hegemony presents America as the land of opportunity, so I understand why they think this way.
Of course, they aren’t perceptive enough to understand white hegemony and its social and racial hierarchies. Not initially at least. It takes time. Their status as an international black is higher than the homegrown black. International blackness is coveted by liberal whites because it makes them seem worldly, accepting, progressive and open minded. When a white American celeb wants to adopt a black child, they go to an African country, they don’t go to Detroit. White people will claim to want to help black people or build a school, and they will start an NGO and go somewhere in Africa, when the problems they are claiming to tackle exists in their backyard. They will bypass the black children who are in dire straits in Chicago because their schools are being shut down. They will fly halfway around the world for their benevolent charity because they prefer international blackness. Plus it looks impressive on a resume to say you helped some orphans in Burundi. A lot more impressive than saying you went to the inner cities of Chicago or Detroit in their minds. This is the rationale.
The African immigrant will mistakenly think that their accomplishments means inclusion, like they are on par with white people socially. That is until white hegemony reminds them that they are not. They usually get the message when their child comes home in tears because of racial teasing. Like all parents, they want the best for their child, so they enrolled them in a “good school”, which will have a white student majority. White kids will remind their child that they are black. If not that, then a cop who doesn’t differentiate between international blacks and homegrown blacks will harass them one day and treat them in the most dehumanizing manner. Their degrees and well stamped passport won’t save them. Maybe when they move into a white neighborhood, white folks who don’t know them as the “ideal international” black person that they are will let them know what they really think about black people in their space.
Closer to home, maybe their “white friend” will get drunk one night and call them a nigger, or perhaps give them a backwards compliment like “you’re not like other black people” or “you speak so well for a black person”. Maybe you’re an “ideal international” black woman, and one day your normally level headed white male friend tells you he’s never been with a black woman and he looks at you as if you’re supposed to fix his problem. He tells you this like you should be honored and flattered that him having sex with a black woman is something on his bucket list. This also happens to “ideal international” black men, albeit not as often as it does with women. Despite the indignity of the proposition, the black men usually oblige. Men have been socially conditioned to not turn down sex, even when it objectifies them.
No matter what triggers it, most international blacks eventually realize that despite the friendly whites that acknowledge them because of their international blackness and their status as a “model minority”, they’re in the same boat as homegrown blacks. And that’s when it becomes real for them. Back home, they didn’t have to think in terms of racial lines because of cultural homogeneity. They aren’t home anymore. White supremacy will alert them that they are black. They didn’t know that they were part of the niggerdom. Now they do. Wipe your feet before you come in.
Ultimately, being a nigger in the eyes of white supremacy transcends ethnic group, nationality and every other descriptor we have for ourselves. The only requirement is blackness. Africans are just niggers with unpronounceable names in the eyes of white supremacy. People often play respectability politics with names like ‘Shaniqua’, but names like ‘Chukwuemeka’ or ‘Olubowale’ are essentially the same thing as ‘Shaniqua’ to white Americans. White Americans view anglicized names as “normal”. Names that aren’t anglicized are looked at as weird or exotic by them. No matter how common the name might be, and Emeka, Wale and Shaniqua are very common names. I hope that the international blacks who make fun of “ghetto names” understand this one day. White people don’t care what your beautiful names mean either. They don’t mock these names because of etymology. They mock them because they are “ethnic” and non-white.
I know that a lot of Africans got a wake up call when Amadou Diallo and Ousmane Zongo were killed. They realized that they too could get gunned down for being black. Those murders were sobering reminders that black life is cheap and easy for the taking.