The bombardment of negative images over the many, many years through all types of media has done severe psychological damage to people of African ancestry.
This constant, ongoing dilemma continues to plague people of African descent and perpetuates the Black inferiority complex that so many of us suffer from.
We despise and avoid any connection to Africa; in doing this we despise and avoid our existence. I totally agree with Malcolm X, as he recounted in the speech “You Can’t Hate The Roots of a Tree, Without Hating the Tree,” that there is no way we can say we love ourselves and hate Africa.
The damage is so severe that some of us will do whatever it takes to change “the skin” that we’re in. We have been taught to hate ourselves by the inhumane treatment we’ve received at the hand of White oppressors and there is a desperate need to find a way to escape the damage that’s been done.
These conflicting thoughts cause cognitive dissonance that we now must try to resolve by denying who we are and where we came from. Reading the self-loathing comments of Keith Richburg and Mayotte Capecia, in Milton Allimadi’s book, “The Hearts of Darkness; How White Writers Created the Racist Image of Africa,” caused me to shake my head in disbelief.
According to Richburg, his ancestors were spared from remaining in barbaric contemporary Africa when they were mercifully taken into slavery and in his eyes this was seen as a blessing. Capecia expressed her dismay at not being born white. It sounds farfetched that a person of African ancestry would have such outrageous ideas but this is all too common and expressed in many ways. This is a sign of the mental disorder that we all experience daily.
Thinking back to my own experiences growing up here in the United States there was no discussion of Africa or identifying with being an African. It wasn’t until I saw Roots by Alex Haley on television that I began to see a connection to Africa. Ironically, it was my teacher, a White male that encouraged the class to watch it.
Being made fun of because of my dark complexion hammered at my self esteem. There was no positive reinforcement or relationship to Africa until I had a summer job as a teenager at the Uhuru Sasa Shule, in Brooklyn, New York, an African cultural institution. I learned more about African culture and this was very uplifting and planted a seed within me.
What we suffer isn’t by chance but by design. We were taught that we were inferior and this penetrated our psyches for generations. This isn’t something that you just “let go”; just forget about it and move on from. This is something that requires deep seated healing and a determination to free oneself from the bondage of the debilitating words, images and inhuman treatment of Africans over the centuries.
I have been learning to recognize the mental disorders that all of us suffer from because of White supremacy. The healing begins with accepting that I am an African and my roots are in Africa. This is an ongoing, lifelong process; one that involves an inner awakening, recognition and a determination to daily love myself.