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  • Writer's pictureDr. Chi

Diaspora-naming

In my conversations with Americans as well as people around the world, I have noticed that people often confuse racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, prejudice, discrimination, and even resistance against white supremacy. In the Diaspora Wars, there is discussion about how Africans “are racist” against Black Americans and show a preference for White Americans. I’ve also been in spaces in which first generation African immigrants disparage Black American culture and history. In the middle are the bridge builders who are concerned about these tensions and want to create narratives of connection between both populations.


The elephant in the room is that Black Americans and African immigrants are different peoples. Except for those who have parents from both communities and grew up spending time equally in both communities, Black Americans and Africans have different histories, narratives of how they came into existence, and relationships to White supremacy. To flatten slavery into “being the same” as colonization is ahistorical and is a discredit to the struggles of Black Americans, people in any of the 54 countries on the continent who identify as Black or African, as well as the millions across the diaspora.


By the way, it’s funny how since many US Blacks recently found out that there are Black people outside of Africa and English-speaking North America, too many mislabel Africans as being members of the Diaspora when they are not. They are the homeland from which people have been dispersed. Some also use the term “Black Diaspora,” which can seem like an avoidance of identifying with Africa since the term African Diaspora has been in use in scholarly communities for decades. Also, many people who are identified as Black by Americans do not identify as Black but as coloured or even Arab. For this reason, imposing a US racial identity can feel like an extension of US imperialism, even if the intent is to dismantle white supremacy and anti-Black racism. People in the Global South have had enough of US imperialism in any form, even if its coming from US Blacks.


Many Africans and Afro-descendants around the world do not see themselves emanating from a black race or a US Black population, but rather from a continent very recently racialized as Black in the much larger scope of human history and ethnic identities. Given the large number of Black Americans migrating to other parts of the world, including Mexico and Costa Rica, I am in favor of the term Black Diaspora referring to Black Americans who have moved abroad. Their experiences as foreigners are very specific and often different from migrants from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cuba, or Brazil when they move abroad.


Ethnocentrism is the judgment of other people groups by one's own standards and values. It's opposite is cultural relativity, recognizing and respecting how people from other cultures see the world. On the one hand, US Blacks calling out Afro-Dominicans for not identifying as Black on the mainland ("me no Black!") is a way of recognizing and fighting against anti-Black racism. On the other, it is forcing Domincans born and raised in the Caribbean to stop seeing their long history of dis-identifying with and disenfranchising Haitians (the "real blacks"). It also does not challenge many Domincans' identifying with Spain as their "motherland," despite Spaniards not seeing them as equals when they travel there. Without fully understanding the issue of anti-blackness, enslavement, and colonialism, it becomes easy for people to dimiss US anti-racism as a mere hang-up, rather than a match on the global fight against racial capitalism .

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