In the last couple of days I have heard some awful comments from native Africans concerning African Americans claiming to be of mainly African descent, despite the fact that DNA tests support the fact that the majority of African Americans are of African descent, DNA even nails it down to the country; the comments persist that Africans don’t want any part of African Americans. As an African American I suppose I should not be too upset considering the long string of human rights abuses including how deeply my ancestors were scarred by the actions of Western Africans two centuries ago, and the almost daily human rights abuses of Africans that are flashed across the screen every day, I really should not be bothered, and Oprah Winfrey has even detailed the most unimaginable abuses by Africans occurring in Southern Africa, and of course the RWANDA massacre. All of these events should not bother me and should make me proud to be just an American. When an African calls “us” African Americans mongrels without a homeland , I suppose I should not be bothered.
However, based on the above and the distancing of Africans from African Americans, something happened that really disturbed me. As I was looking through the MP3 collection of a friend I ran across several recordings from the Buddha bar in Paris, a trendy bar that puts out recordings of music performed and played in the bar. In this collection I started listening to a recording of Porgy and Bess Summertime sung by an African which though the singing was not bad the context by which it was sung was almost tragic and comical. It made me very sad to think that a native African was singing a song so connected to American slavery, that had been made because of slavery, because of the ancestors of African Americans had been sold into slavery and had found liberation in music. Personally to me it was the equivalent of a Nazi singing a German Hymn. As I continued to look through this collection I saw that Shaft had been sung by an African, again Shaft was a product of an African American culture of pain brought on African Americans because they were sold and stolen into slavery by Africans. Finally the honest truth is that if I had not heard that Africans were trying to distance themselves from African Americans I would have never thought about the fact that Africans were singing the songs of African Americans. I suppose the prime irony is that African Americans have fought for a lot of things most especially civil rights that Africans are benefiting from. Not only have we fought our own battles but African Americans have put enormous pressure on foreign entities to liberate Africans in their own countries. The one thing that African Americans have established Hegemony and Dominance in is the cultural arts and we don’t mind if you follow in our footsteps but don’t put us down as you reap the benefits from the cultural capital that we “African Americans” have created.