Given the current national radicalized conversation regarding immigration, the insights and perspectives of Black Psychology are sorely needed, especially regarding the challenges that the recent African immigrant community and African American community face with one another.
Watching the ‘Black Panther’ film, I noticed a new concept for myself when the character Killmonger tells the Black Panther … “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships, ‘cause they knew death was better than bondage.”
This stayed with me because part of what the movie touched on was this connection to Africa that enslavement and oppression tried to take away from the African American community. How many recent African immigrants are being impacted by the same cultural oppression that Black psychology refers to as psychic terrorism?
Since I arrived to the U.S. in 2008, I’ve noticed so much unfounded animosity between the African American community and African immigrants with both communities sharing a general mistrust of the other via false stereotypes generated by an invisible hand of white domination and privilege. When did this happen and why? Is there any real reason for the animosity between our communities? Are both communities suffering from what Na’im Akbar, former ABPsi president, defined as alien and anti-self disorder?
When I attempt to answer this question for myself, I first think of our ancestors, our collective ancestors, our ancestors from African soil, because they belong to all black folks. Africans were kidnapped from their homes, their families, their continent and forced to dwell in the New World. Their culture and identity were stripped away in every way possible. Their progeny became the resilient community that is the African-American community that continues to keep their African identity alive in various ways. The only difference between the two communities is the timeline and circumstances in which they arrived here.
As an African immigrant, I recognize that many African immigrants are infected with Euro-American ideations (i.e., Memetic infection) that result in an arrogance about themselves when referring to and interacting with the African- American community.
This false sense of superiority may come from Euro-American falsification of history and recent immigrants’ need to disassociate from formerly enslaved Africans, whose ancestral origins was obliterated by conquest, resulting in new African immigrants claiming special status via the false superiority over knowing exactly where they come from. As messed up as it is, I’ve witnessed many an African immigrant throw that very detail in the face of African-Americans, as if that makes them the “better black” community. I understand how this can create a lot of friction and resentment. A critical Black Psychology assessment may be helpful,
The unfortunate history of recent Africa is that of pain, terror and struggle at the hands of white supremacy that was used to justify African people’s enslavement and colonization. Many African cultures look very different today because of the forced influence Europeans have had on the continent and continue to have. The same diabolical ways that were used to mentally enslave Africans in the New World, were used on those still living in the motherland.
“To control a people, you must first control what they think about themselves and how they regard their history and culture. And when your conqueror makes you ashamed of your culture and history, he needs no prison walls and no chains to hold you.”–John Henrick Clark
Many Africans were fooled into thinking that since the white man left Africa, they no longer suffered through white supremacy while in fact the opposite is true. What many Africans are unaware of is that their adopted standard of wealth, education, beauty etc. has actually been influenced by Eurocentric views that totally eradicated the standards of our believe that the goal is to aspire to the Euro-centric standard. They live these lives thinking their African culture is pure and intact when the truth is that they are poisoned by white supremacy’s intention of erasing black existence. This is what Dr. Kobi Kambon, another past president of the ABPsi calls “cultural misorientation.”
The recent African immigrant community and the African American community have been at one another’s throats for a very long time now, and each will point several fingers at one another over where this hostility originated, not knowing that there is a third diabolical party at work all along.
This article is part of a monthly series on Black Mental Health Issues written by members of the Bay Area Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists. Readers are invited to join with chapter members at our monthly meeting every third Saturday of each month at the West Oakland Youth Center.