And if I rebel against anything, it’s the notion that there is one real way to be black. ~ Jonathan CapehartIMG_1559

the African Diaspora includes for most Black Americans the TransAtlantic Slave Trade. Human Beings were stolen, kidnapped from the Continent of Africa. The Gold coast and the Grain Coast is the location for modern African countries such as Ghana, Togo and Benin. Other countries from which people were taken against their will were Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria and Angola.sources of tranatlantic slave trade

Would you condemn an Italian who was indifferent to an Irishman?
but you want all Black people to think and act as one.africa slave_trade_1650-1860_

and lets look at the ethnic communities within these countries.
Nigeria is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups. The most populous and politically influential groups are: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%. The principal religions are Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, and indigenous beliefs 10%.
Ghana, The principal ethnic groups in Ghana are: Akan 45.3%, Mole-Dagbon 15.2%, Ewe 11.7%, Ga-Dangme 7.3%, Guan 4%, Gurma 3.6%, Grusi 2.6%, Mande-Busanga 1%, other tribes 1.4%, other 7.8%.

People were put on boats by slavers. striped of freedom, status, clothing, language, tradition and family. forced, against their will, at fear of death, to speak english, worship a foreign god, to imitate chattel, property, animals… in order to survive.ancient africa map

Our common history begins in the horror of enslavement, the middle passage and slavery…africa slave ports

when were we ever just one type of people.

further, the notion that there is only one way to be Black denies the infinite variation of humanity.

white privilege and the myth of white supremacy dictates that there is only one way to be black because it is not complex enough to respond to more than that.


can an African American appropriate African Culture? can a Polish American appropriate Polish Culture?

So I read this article

For the life of me, I need to know:

Can Black people culturally appropriate one other?

It’s a nuanced question that seems to either set tempers aflare or create vacuums of silence in a room but, after going through pictures taken at the latest Afropunk Festival, it’s definitely one that I have to ask.

And if Blacks can, why is the disgust and uproar surrounding this ongoing phenomenon only reserved for instances when White people appropriate us?


Please read the article for yourself so that I don’t influence you with my interpretation of the authors query.

my response to the article was as visceral as it was not nuanced. I felt orphaned yet again. Having been stolen from my mother by a father who didnt love to learn that my mother didnt care either really pissed me off.

1. My first thought was STFU!IMG_8723

The last thing PanAfricans need is another us versus them conflict. we are all part of the African Diaspora and should be loving, inclusive and intersectional.

2. Then I thought about how I hate, hate HATE it when someone, anyone, misinterprets, mishandles a tradition or ritual of mine and that includes my own children.


3. Then I thought about how they didn’t come to save us (I am channeling Paul Mooney)african heritage

4. I considered the black americans who talk about and treat all things African with the same disdain as most racists supremacists, colonizing, Imperialist.  These are not people I would want in my car let alone my culture. african tribal marking

5. I then thought about my sincere desire to learn about what part of Africa I am from and what tribe and learn all about it.

I actually resent that connection with a people culture traditions, severed by the Middle Passage. I cant argue for my daughter to dress at her wedding as women in our family have done forever. I as a descendant of enslaved people can only trace my family line back 5 generations back to a man and woman who were set free in 1865 and later married and started a family.


6. Keeping in mind that the slave experience mixed Black Americans all up together, keeping people from the same community apart to break their spirits and make them dependent on the slavers and the system of slavery. I personally have DNA identified roots in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Lesotho and france/ switzerland (lack of capitalization is intentional and relevant to this experience). As all these places are actually apart of me, do I get to research learn and incorporate rituals, traditions etc.  and the researching and learning is hard and hurtful as these are not conversations at my mother’s knee. that lack of warmth and person makes my historical heart break.

In contrast to the linear boldness of much surma body painting, some designs are delicate and lacy. Created to complement a young girl’s fragile beauty, these designs are often set off by subtle patterns shaved into the hair.

7. I have physical, identified roots in Jamaica, Texas and Mississippi. (and don’t act like Texas isn’t a country to itself). Since this is all LITERALLY “in” me, what part of it cant I express.

what are you thoughts and to be honest… feelings?

can an Italian American appropriate Italian culture?

I think an important part of the black American experience is to actually learn about the rituals and traditions that we incorporate into our lives. there should be a reverence to it.

Learned reverence and maybe then it can not be appropriation