Randomly select 100 Black people in the United States and ask them if they are Afrikans? If they say no, then ask what are they? You will likely receive a variety of answers. You might hear terms like Black, African-American, Moor, Hebrew Israelite, Biracial, Mixed, and the list goes on. In the midst of this sea of identity, there are some individuals who flat out refuse to associate themselves with an Afrikan identity. Which leads me to ask “What’s wrong with being Afrikan?”
To answer this question, we must look back in history. Those of us those are conscious understand that the key to enslaving a person is to take their identity. Removing any mental, physical, and spiritual attachment our ancestors had with their native land was the first thing the oppressor did to them. The only identity that the oppressor wanted our ancestors to have was that of a slave. We can see this process still taking place in the prison system in Amerikkka. Upon entering the prison, the imprisoned person is stripped of their personal belongings and is given a number. As far as the prison is concerned, that number is that individual’s identity.
From the days of chattel enslavement to the present, the identity of Afrikans in Amerikkka has gone through many transitions. We went from Nigger to Colored to Negro to Black to Afro-American to African-American, along with the several other identities inside of this timeline.
Black people, who flat out refuse to be Afrikan, use classic talking points created by white supremacy to defend their stance. “My Grandparents, my parents, and I was born in Amerikkka, therefore I’m not Afrikan; I’m Amerikkkan.” “I know nothing about Afrikan culture, so I can’t be Afrikan.” “Even people from Afrika doesn’t see Black people in America as Afrikans.” “My parents are from (insert Caribbean island/Latin country) so I’m not Afrikan.” All of these responses were created from white supremacist conditioning. Their intention is to separate Black people from their connection with the lives and experiences of BILLIONS of Afrikans that exist around the globe.
Growing up I never realized how much of Afrika still lives inside of my people and myself. For instance, I didn’t know the pouring of liquor (libations) was a ritual that came from Afrika. Or that the “call and response” in our music comes straight from Afrika. Our connections to Afrika are everywhere, in our music, religion, parenting, mannerisms, EVERYTHING. Afrika is written into our DNA. We are Afrikans whether we like it or not. Personally, I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Why is important to embrace our Afrikan identity? Here are a few reasons and benefits I think the people should consider:
1. We need a common identity based on the common origin of all Children of the Diaspora. We can’t unite if we don’t have a common identity.
2. It instantly connects us with BILLONS of Afrikans around the globe. Many of who are facing similar oppression from white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Embracing our Afrikan heritage, creates an understanding that we aren’t alone, we have ROOTS.
3. A full-scale revolution of Afrikan people must take place globally to liberate the Children of the Diaspora and Motherland. This revolution must defeat capitalism and teach people a new way to live under a framework rooted in socialism. Pan-Afrikanism is the ship that needs to take us there.
4. It gives us a reason to study and learn our history. Agreeing that you’re Afrikan should spark you to at least know something about where you came from. That push to know our roots happens all the time, consciously and subconsciously. It’s essentially Afrika calling you home.
5. Due to the unhealed wounds of our enslavement, we have to live with battered and bruised self-esteems. White supremacy’s conditioning program is rooted in teaching self-hate. Being Afrikan, gives us something to be proud of. It gives us a foundation to build self-love.
Now I am not saying that we have to stop using all other identities. Notice I still used “Black” as an identifier throughout this piece. What I am saying is that regardless of we identify as; we must understand that we are Afrikans. If we plan on having a successful revolution against the oppressor, we must learn how to connect with all of our people across the globe. We have to build spiritual, economic, cultural, and revolutionary bridges back to the Mother Continent. Long live the revolutionary spirits of Malcolm X, Patrice Lumumba, and Frantz Fanon. Stay Woke.
“I realized that I was connected to Africa. I wasn’t just a Colored girl. I was part of a whole world that wanted a better life. I’m part of a majority and not a minority. My life has been a life of growth. If you’re not growing, you’re not going to understand real love. If you’re not reaching out to help others then you’re shrinking. My life has been active. I’m not a spectator”~ Assata Shakur