Prof. Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
To be black, no matter how straight or nuanced the story behind the blackness, is also in the end more to be viewed as African….. for good or bad. And though blacks dispersed around the world no longer represent a homogenous group, ….courtesy history and accidents of history and the penetrant or overriding impact of the two on geneticisation and phenotypic pluralisms, to be black ( shade or sound irrespective) is to be tied into the challenged African historiography, ….its labored mix of plusses and minuses deriving from the dreary image problem, fair and unfair, that Africanity for all of its recorded centuries has engendered. Out there in the larger world blackness equates to africanness and with it constantly comes the risk of being kicked to the sociologic kerb or pond base some, more victim than others, but none ever not a victim, one tint or another, in the fierce global dynamics between colors and racial classes.
So plenty and so often are the relative minuses of being viewed an African that m many blacks would rather pant away at m historical revisionism, hastily ready to excise any part of a story that seeks to cant them in the direction of an African rootedness. If success can be lumbered with a thousand fathers, failure or any appearance of it can often painfully look an orphan, no one willing to be its parent . The African trajectory till date can hardly be canvassed in colorful inks ; for reasons as much her fault as they are not, her story and her reality a somber concatenation of tasteless misadventures that give her a Cinderalla profile Cinderallas may be many things to many people but never anyone’s envy.
To be sure , at the individual level, there are Africans (and blacks generally) whose tenacity of purpose and the attendant exceptionalism have earned them upward mobility, gravitas and uncommon respect, the pervading tendency however has always been to calibrate any black or groups of them against the generic visual scales that the parent continent produces. Those scales have never been flattering and so no black has ever been able to fully escape the wrench, once he wanders away from base . Hyphenated blacks in their various incarnations ( black-American, black english, Caribbean-blacks or black-anything ) are regularly more profiled for the blackness than the hyphens and therefore may be no more than few dangling shades away from the plight of the unhyphenated. The plight of blacks ( hyphenated or not ) is a common one though tangible differentials ( time and space ocassioned) can be imported into the dynamics to pitch one black or group of blacks agsinst another in a craftily calculated and disingenuous attempt by those who may wish to create and exploit wedges .
So it is not uncommon to find blacks staking out ‘superiority’ positions between and betwixt themselves, using calibrations that are in reality ungrounded in anything but superfices. Inside campuses and work places around the world it is not uncommon to find particular black grouping viewing itself as superior to another black grouping, disingeniously unmindful of the common plight before all when all the superfices ( or even artifices) are subtracted. For as long as it seems convenient or self serving either to the ego or the moment or the grand purpose, the fratricidality looms larger and larger , playing into the hands of none but the very agents likely to benefit from any wedge .
Over years of traveling and mingling with various kinds of blacks and non-blacks , the sobering reality in my view has come to be that the ‘fastest’ blacks ( hyphenated or not ) will on the global stage, always be judged by the standards of the ‘slowest’ blacks. Until the slowest blacks ( however the calibration is done ) anywhere and most certainly in Africa are able to up their game, no black anywhere will ever get his or her full due of respect . The American white , more guiltily so the poorly educated and poorly travelled amongst them , sees every black as an African and his views of Africanness remains hardly improved over the years, buttressed daily by the kind of news about African affairs hitting his optics at every turn . And though his African American brethren has lived next to him for scores of hundred years now , all he still sees of him is an African undeserving of equal status or equal dividends.
If only Africa will rise even by her own standards so the benefits of respect can spill over into everything black including for those who now find themselves hyphenated in different lands and climes. It hurts to see how blacks are being felled like game in American cities day upon days . The police kills the black, the media smears the victim and the prosecutor tips the scale; ….over and over, the paranoia of the killer is packaged as acceptable defence inside a sour system that still views the black as a savage import from Africa. Then the post murder parades of talk and analyses, more talk and effete protests ….. then snap into silence. And then again !
Africa on her own part must pick up speed to reinvent herself whilst dispersed or hyphenated blacks everywhere on their own part must realize that unless Africa is respected , neither they nor the continental Africans can ever expect to live respectably when once outside of their own genetic base . Taunting each other from inside own respective cubby holes as to who is superior or inferior is being penny wise, pound foolish. Such fratricidal taunts only pull down everyone to the fatigue of all but the detractors .
Professor Basil Jide Fadipe
Medical Surgeon, Teacher, Social Commentator
Justin Fadipe Centre
Commonwealth of Dominica