This is a documentary examining the apparent tensions and misconceptions between the African immigrants to the United States and the African Americans. It is said that more Africans now enter the United States and Europe in larger numbers than in the days of slavery. The influx of Africans to America, however, does not explain the apparent tensions. This documentary will let both sides voice their opinions on the possible causes of these tensions.
Most of us who were raised in Africa grew up admiring everything African American, from the hair styles, the clothes and of course the music. The American sports heroes like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frasier were also our heroes. For hours we would read African American popular magazines like Ebony and Jet even if they were five years old. Even today, all the music and fashion trends among Africans are greatly influenced by the hip hop culture of America.
Upon arriving in the United States the story was different. We are not accepted in the African American circles. Not in the cafeteria, not on the sports teams and definitely not at the parties. On the other side, the African’s International Students Organizations in most campuses do not make efforts to invite or include African Americans to their campus events.
As these apparent distances continue to grow, the two groups learn to stay away and gaze at each other from a distance.
Why don’t Africans mix, socialize or mingle with African Americans? Why don’t African Americans care about Africans? Of course there are some exceptions where even marriages have taken place, and there are may notable African American Organizations that are reaching out to Africa. But overall the gap is wide and continues to grow.
There are some unexplainable observations. For example, why, if there is an apparent influx of Africans to America, is there a corresponding massive incarceration of African Americans already here? Are the “new Africans” more preferred in America than their African American cousins?
Time will tell what will become of the relationships of all peoples of African descent in the world. For now, we are set to examine some of the root causes of the apparent tensions, and maybe debunk some long held beliefs by the two sides…after all, “we are all children from the same family”.
FROM THE DIRECTOR
The work on this documentary began ever since I arrived in the United States over fifteen years ago. After few years of observations while attending college, I knew that one day I would need to learn more about relationship between Africans and African Americans; I didn’t know how or when I will do that…that is until now. If you are an African in America chances are you do not associate yourself with African Americans. If you do then it is because of work, church or you are in some other organized social event and nothing more outside that setting. If you are an African American, chances are you do not associate with Africans except from a distance in a class, work or maybe church.
There is a fair amount of exceptions where Africans and African Americans have intermarried in this country, but that does not help the state of affairs between the two groups. Both sides hold certain beliefs about the other side. This is an opportunity to determine what is real and what is fiction.
So why is this? Why aren’t the Africans close to the African Americans? Should they be close? What causes the rift? Who is at fault? How can the situation be improved? Is it all real?
If you an African American you may argue that you know a few Africans, but upon close scrutiny you will find that most of these relationships are not very deep, meaning that people really don’t socialize beyond work or classroom environments.
Some have argued that the relationship between Africans and African Americans in America is no different from the relationships between Kenyans, Nigerians or Tanzanians in America. This may be true to some extent but as a rule, Africans in America have a different attitude towards one another compared to their attitude towards African Americans as a group. On the other hand, African Americans have similar attitudes towards all Africans regardless of the country of origin.
The paradox of our investigation is that even though Africans admire and emulate African Americans, they are always apprehensive about taking the steps to really know African Americans. There is almost an opposite dynamic from the African Americans attitudes towards Africans. They rarely emulate Africans and sometimes go out of their way to tell Africans that they really have nothing to do with Africa since they were born here and this is the only place they know. They are Americans.
In a broader sense, African American organizations in this country have done a lot to connect to Africa. There are well established organizations that promote economic, educational, social and cultural exchanges and initiatives to and from Africa. In making this documentary we have even met African Americans who lived in Africa for sometime in support of such cultural and social exchanges. This is a very good thing and perhaps a state where all “Africans” regardless of their nationalities want to see blossom.
There is no denying that there is room to explore the relationships of all Africans. There are ample documented evidences of the negative impacts of colonial legacy, the cultural conflicts, political and economic injustices done against the “Africans” in the world. This documentary adds another dimension to explore to what extent those past and present evils influence the relationship of the two groups.
In the meantime we are set to explore and maybe debunk the long held beliefs between the two “Africas” in America. We hope that the documentary will create some value to some social scholars studying human relationships in general and more specifically African people relationships. The project will take us through various states in America and will cover people from all levels of society. Finally, the documentary will take us back to Africa to explore the attitudes of Africans towards African Americans before they set foot in America.
Ultimately we hope that this documentary will ease some of the real or perceived tensions between the Africans and their American cousins…because as it is we are all “children from the same family”
NOTE – December 2015:
After about 3 years of interviews from both Africans and African Americans, we concluded that – its true that there were tensions between Africans and African Americans. We also found that there were legitimate reasons for the existence of those tensions. But we also felt that the tensions or this “beef” did not raise to an issue that required further investigation. Ultimately, we concluded that there were no difference between the tensions between the different African nationalities in America and that between Africans and African Americans. Basically, people are people and they will always have differences.
We also found that in principle, Africans and African Americans were on the same side when it came to things that mattered. Such as political affiliations, police brutality, racism etc.
One other question we could not answer was, let’s say the relationship was good or improved, who will it really benefit? In trying to answer those questions, we found many initiatives and examples where the relationship is actually thriving and efforts to improve it have been going on for many years…since the Pan African movement.
So, we stopped digging and we discontinued the documentary. The subject is worth investigating for the future, but for now not our company.