[Guest Post] Is Your Diversity Big Enough for Africa?
by Amin Cyntje
I usually don't believe in coincidences , but over the past 2-3 weeks I found myself having many conversations about diversity in some form or fashion. What it means to be diverse and more importantly how one can begin to embrace diversity. As you can imagine diversity as a concept by itself can mean almost anything, but the diversity that I'm speaking about is a proactive mindset which allows one to reach out beyond demographics familiar to those that are not so much so.
What brought on these conversations you may ask? Many things, but mostly my realization that there are many people that I know with some backward perceptions about folks from other cultures, most sadly... African cultures. Now this paradox becomes even more interesting because the folks that I am talking about describe themselves as African-Americans and for the most part are conscientious of the struggle. But still there remains a rooted perception, shall I say bias against people from the continent.
When asked about people from Africa I have heard the following:
1. They're stuck-up/arrogant/nasty.
2. They don't like us (black Americans).
3. They're unattractive and I don't like their features.
4. We don't have anything in common.
5. The men are possessive and the women are mean.
And the list goes on and on, but after hearing these things I couldn't help but wonder how Africans came to be the sole possessors of these traits. What is it about us that makes it so easy for us to asperse people that we share such a rich history with? I see African features in every black person I see (remember Africa is a vast continent with Berber, Nubian, Arab etc. peoples) and I can certainly think of several Washingtonians I know that fit into the above stated stereotypes.
Sadly I think it comes down to obliviousness and arcane, obsolete views of the world but mostly of ourselves. Let's not be philistines. We are a people that can love Italian cuisine, be enamored with Asian characters and folklore, intoxicated with the exotic enticements of Latin American but NOT love Africa and her people? That's just surface diversity and we can do better than that for, dare I say our long lost home and family? Ghana definitely thinks we can.
My New Year's resolution is to embrace real diversify and I would challenge you to do the same.