10.04.2012

The Diversity & Controversities of Black Cultures from this Asian's Perspective (I of V)

     In my latest post I discussed how my fascination with black women developed, and how it eventually evolved from something borderline unhealthy to a more respectful & approachable state of mind. And the comments were most enlightening. But it was something that AC mentioned which got the cranial wheels clicking & spinning again:

I caution making generalized statements. There already is enough battles between the whole black american vs black african thing.

     Sister Ankhesen herself gently reminded me that this would deeply complicated, compounding facets upon facets. As such I must put a disclaimer before proceeding. The contents herein within this post are solely my views & have nothing to do with others unless explicitly stated so. They are not meant to offend as opposed to inform others & gather information from their reactions thereof. And no, I don't mean to be trolling. I'm simply motivated by my deep interest in human nature. Plus this is going to be a long ass jargon filled post. For the sake of brevity, I'll divide this into 5 posts, the first concerning black Americans, and the subsequent four about Africa & black Africans. In between I'll attempt to draw upon the other aspects of the African diaspora. Alright? Let's begin.

     It comes as no great surprise to me that there is (and I reiterate again) a stark difference between black Americans & black Africans. The term American here will exclusively refer to the United States, rather than the Americas proper. This is not an observation based on blindly accepting corporate-driven media-propagated stereotypes (as a student of journalism, I should know) but rather by examining the behaviors of my fellow human beings, both PoC (primarily) and non-PoC (to a certain extent) Also I must point out some flawed details, as I generally associate with sub-Saharan Africans & Eastern Africans, but occasionally with North Africans (who are understandably more Arab in linguistics & culture) & Central Africans, and infrequently with West Africans (Nigerians in particular I avoid. Again, all will be explained in due course.)

     With black Americans I noticed that they largely varied with geographical location. For one, Southern black Americans are generally more genial in approach than compared to say, their Northeastern counterparts, who strike me as being more reserved & reticent. West Coast African-Americans (abbvr. AfA) appear to be by & large ostentatious, but then again this is a noted characteristic (or should I say stereotype) of West Coast Americans, especially California but no so much on Oregon & Washington. Alas, I lack sufficient information on African-Americans living in the Midwest, and will exclude them for the sake of brevity. In numerous instances (i.e. music, spoken linguistic dialects, etc.) AfA have many threads of sameness, but that is I hazard where all similarities end. The differences between rural & urban African-Americans markedly stand in contrast to one another. Rural AfA tend to have stronger family values & have a high degree of respect for knowledge and its pursuit thereof. This would appear to be the case in the Southeastern regions. Urban AfA unfortunately suffer from that strange malady (from my PoV) which has proven itself to be a scourge of Americans regardless of race & culture. Socio-technological progress which gave rise to alienation & communal disillusionment, resulting in widespread discontent. The youth (both our generation & those directly after us) are particularly vulnerable to these factors. In the case of AfA, it manifests itself in lamentably common asyndetons such as crime, narcotic abuse & dysfunctional families (consider the background of AfA during the 1992 Rodney King riots).  But it is here where I must point out why I largely distrust mainstream outlets of media. I feel that they do little to alleviate the situation, instead constantly highlight the propensity of AfA for crime & violence, perpetuating it without end. If this is the case, then it certainly lends credence to the validity of the social theory known as white privilege. Simply put, the actions of (say) one PoC such as Stanley Williams or Cho Seung-Hui are taken as a solid reflection upon the whole community itself, whereas white people would almost never be subject to such predilections. All of this not including the contestable propaganda that the entertainment industry churns out. This is why I regard cultural phenomena such as blaxploitation to be a double-edged sword. It gave a sense of pride for AfA and to an extent black people worldwide, but did not show that AfA were capable of achieving above & beyond these imaginings, much of which were derived from white racial cliches of AfA. The more you feed the dragon, the hungrier it becomes. But the most frightening prospect of these afore-mentioned urban asyndetons is the equation of intelligence as white behavior, and the glorification of gangsta' as being proper black behavior. Again, this is especially true for our generation (although it can be traced back as far as the early 1970's) and extensive in inner urban areas. Bear in mind, many socio-economic problems that AfA face today & in the coming future could have been largely overcome from the onset of the Seventies were it not for the discriminatory practice of redlining (do look it up) by banks at the time. Additionally, it can be controversially noted that the extended drug trafficking trade by the likes of Frank Lucas & Leslie Atkinson around that era fueled these issues. Ironically enough, their main source of narcotics came from the Golden Triangle, a notorious region in the northern sector of South East Asia; a parasitical symbiosis of PoCs, if you will. As Ice Cube's character Vusi Madlazi notes in the 1997 action thriller Dangerous Ground, "They got free, then they got high." Of passing note is how urban AfA culture is more or less overwhelming rural / small town-esque AfA culture, and the promotion of the gangsta' subculture (I personally disagree with it, as I consider it to be both a promotion of a lifestyle that is cheap, tawdry and with an early, violent end, as well as misogynistic & shallow. But to each their own) It too has affected modern youth in Africa proper. Which leads me to my next topic of discussion, starting with southern Africa.

To be continued...

50 comments:

  1. Me and all the Nigerians who read this blog are waiting to find out why you avoid Nigerians because I'm not sure how you plan to have a discussion abut black Africans without talking about Nigerians but okay.

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    1. Black Africans are Nigerians. Part of Africa. When rhe author sais "Black Africans" thwt meant EVERY part of Africa. It is not isolated.

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    2. I meant *that* and *said* made an error.

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    3. Justina, did you see the part where the author said they were going to exclude Nigerians????

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  2. @Sugabelly: Thank you for your patience. Briefly put, it's about large groups of people. Individuals are another thing altogether. In that breath, I'd say the same for Mainlanders (people from China)

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  3. How did you gather your data, Zydar? Have you been living in each of these places or...?

    I will agree with you that the "intelligence/diligence/propriety=whiteness, and so stupidity/laziness/impropriety=blackness" construct is a huge problem, with far reaching ramifications. I don't know that the urban/rural divide is as you describe it here, with rural blacks positioned as somehow more moral and traditional. I don't see that here at all- all manner of unproductive behavior goes on in the countryside.

    American culture has historically positioned blackness and whiteness as binaries, which pushes both to "the poles" in pretty much every aspect of life here. I'm not sure what remedy there is for this problem. I think that at least explaining it is a good start.

    Sadly, there is so little help for black youths who do not embrace that construct when it comes to their own identities. It is a very common experience for black scholars to have been racially abused by both black and white, and to have been physically beaten for "acting white". This often leads to alienation from one's own black identity as well as from other blacks. It's pretty difficult to advance collectively when the race's best and brightest are uncomfortable even being around one another in many cases.

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    1. @joyful: Mainly observation, and speaking to people on an individual basis. Ironically, this occurred in Hawai'i, the most Asian state in the US. Fortunately, my godsister's neighbors is an African-American family from the East Coast & Southern parts of the US mainland. Getting to know them, they shared some of their experiences with me. They were my primary source, as well as the smattering of black Americans in Oahu island. Let's just say I made a conscious effort to crawl out of my shell & socialize. In fact there are more African expatriate international students studying in UH & HPU than there are black Americans.

      Well, this WAS the main impression I got. Either they were referring to rural, small town African-Americans as being more family-oriented, devout, and hardworking. Or possibly suggesting that they are more inclined to do so in contrast to their urban counterparts.

      Alas, there is no remedy proper for the time being. It's a vicious cycle, pardon the cliche. Thing is, the more stereotype(s) are propagated, the more the subject audience will believe it, at the cost of social mobility, etc. Like how the Islamic world at large reacted to the Innocence of Muslims, one simply falls into the trap. Referring to intellectualism as being considered "acting white", many prominent figures have called this fallacy out, Bill Cosby & Spike Lee for one. A tragedy in many respects, when one takes into account the contributions of literary examples such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Booker T. Washington, and Frederick Douglass. Not forgetting the Harlem Renaissance, which redefined African-American socio-cultural norms, whatever the outcome may have been. It seems to me that such...ignorance comes at a heavy cost. Once could easily point out thus, Asians are perceived as an overachieving model minority, whereas Blacks are regarded as lazy social pariahs. Its been spoken to death, but the question remains; how does one prevent such perceptions from subliminally afflicting their spoken subjects?

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    2. Thanks for your reply, Zydar. I actually studied for the summer at HPU, many years ago. Wish I could have met you. I applaud your efforts to understand African-American culture and history, and your willingness to listen and be respectful in this dialogue.

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    3. Joyful I agree with you. I moved to an extremely racist all white town in 1998 and been here ever since (Im born 1994). Anyways growing up was especially hard on me because I grew up "proper" I guess? I don't know how to word it. Because of this I've been alienated from other African Americans most of my childhood especially the ones that moved into the town after hurricane Katrina. The reason for this is because they said I acted too "White" and that I wasn't "Black". But I really think what they ment and what they still mean is that I don't act like what they been taught (by the media and all). And I think it bothers me alot. I had trouble fitting in because to whites I was black and to blacks I was white. Eventually I ended up being friends with a majority of whites just because I still was/am too white for the blacks in my community. The very few african americans I am friends with now (only have 5 close african american friends and only 2 are fully black and they are both caribbean like I am) are in the same boat as me. We are too white or proper/intelligent/pure(yes they told us we are pure. Sure I'm christian but are they trying to say blacks are impure?) and not black enough. And I feel that this media has not only damaged some understanding of our racial identity but how others treat others of the same race but with different characteristics.

      Middle schoolers have it worse. They are trying to discover who they are and they turn to the media and this is damaging them. My brother gets picked on for not sagging his pants, for not wearing oversized shirts, and for not "chasing hoes." Its not because he is not black it is because he has moral values and believes and characteristics that he follows by choice from God. I just can't grasp why others of a same race could be so caught up in stereotypes that they judge others for not following them.

      -Kesia

      That's just my thoughts on this topic.
      By the way. Sorry for not being on for a few months. School kept me so busy!!

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    4. OMG thank you for bringing up the media. I swear it truly is the devil. There is no way to be "black". Why does being black equate to dysfunction anyway? Really crazy if you ask me.
      AC

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    5. Its internalized racism. Some American Black people believe they aren't worth anything. We're constantly being told we're trash, uneducated and worthless. From childhood it's being pounded into you're head that you're not even human. Some people start to believe it. Its a self-esteem issue.A lot of the hostility you get from Black folk like this stems from pain and low self-worth.

      We have to find ways to encourage people to start healing and working on their self-esteem. I was teased in middle-school for talking "Proper" but it wasn't too bad, because I was from Harlem and didn't have any white friends. The teasing was in a playful manner but it was teasing none the less. I've white people tell em how "articulate" I am. That's code speak for "I'm surprised you nigg*s sound educated." This world is a mess.

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  4. "The differences between rural & urban African-Americans markedly stand in contrast to one another. Rural AfA tend to have stronger family values & have a high degree of respect for knowledge and its pursuit thereof. This would appear to be the case in the Southeastern regions."

    I don't agree with this mostly because of the historically context of migration that African Americans have done. Migrating from the south to the north and back to the south regions.

    Yes there will always be differences but culturally especially when a large portion of us migrate back and forth not really.

    It just reminds me of different jokes comedians do when they ask the audience "Who is from the south?" And then they go on to say, "I know I got my Chicago, Detroit and parts Northeast cities in the house, ya'll need to raise your hands too, cause ya'll know ya'll country."

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    1. Also wanted to add to that speaking of education...colleges, alot of blacks from the north will go to HBCU's (Historically black colleges) that are located in the south.

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    2. @Meanie: Taking into consideration the reasons for the Great Migration at the time, this is understandable. With the presence of Jim Crow laws, many blacks (most of whom were poor & disenfranchised) sought greener pastures up north. With the Civil Rights Movement, and the subsequent economic decline of the North / Midwest (i.e. Detroit City) they have indeed returned southwards. What is of interest though is the successive generations that experience such changes. Say for example, I'm a black American. My grandfather moved northwards, bringing along his family. My father thus experienced life in the North & most probably parts of the South as well. Myself however would be born & bred in the North, provided that my immediate family remained geographically sedentary in my place of birth. Now, having reached my legal majority, and hearing of better occupational prospects in my ancestral region, I would head there. But can I thus be considered a Southerner as my grandfather & maybe father before me was? I may be familiar with the culture & customs, bound by kinship but cannot thus be regarded as a true Southerner. More importantly, I am also motivated by my Northern upbringing, thereby giving me a different perspective on life than my Southern kinsman, if I've any left.

      This I'm not sure of Meanie, so do forgive me on this. But aren't a majority of HBTIs usually theological in nature, and the hard disciplines aren't given as much focus as other tertiary institutes?

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    3. "This I'm not sure of Meanie, so do forgive me on this. But aren't a majority of HBTIs usually theological in nature, and the hard disciplines aren't given as much focus as other tertiary institutes?"

      No, I wouldn't say that because it depends on your field of study just with any other school. I went to Tuskegee because they had one of the best Veterinarian Schools to go to in the country. Although I didn't stay (Family reasons) and came back North, the teachings were not any different from when I came back north and got my degree.

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  5. You obviously have good intentions but …you make a lot of sweeping generalizations all throughout this post. I mean, a lot of these “regional differences” are just differences between Americans in general. I also question how you can come to these beliefs without really ever meeting and interacting with more than a handful of Black Americans and think that “corporate-driven media-propagated stereotypes” haven’t affected you, or the people around you. You also make several…good points but at the same time, it’s very clear to me that this is way out of your territory. You’re talking and making comparisons about things of which, to put it bluntly, are not really of your concern. I understand that it seems as though YOU only want to understand. But it just feels weird hearing you make opinions on things that either don’t concern or affect you, or are just really conversations that Black Americans need to have with other Black Americans. I’m weary about this 5 part series thing. I think in Black relations and issues affecting the Black community, people who are not black should only listen. There are a lot of problematic things in this post. Problematic because it is wrong, problematic because they’re misinformed, and problematic because, even if they may be true, YOU are not the right person to say these things.

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    1. @Chereace: Thank you for your input. You're right, this is quite unfamiliar territory for me, and I knew that somewhere along the line, I would have appeared to be generalizing. Such was not my intention. I fully admit, my first-hand resources on the subject matter is relatively limited, which means that I would have to rely on academic studies. As you can see, I have not. One, because I don't think ivory tower information is relevant to a blog about human experiences, and because I have notions of distrust on the impartiality (or a subtle lack thereof) of US academia. Once again, thank you for the constructive criticism :)

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    2. Just FYI everybody: this blog is a co-written Narrative; its street runs two ways.

      After all the analyzing, generalizing, opining, and theorizing Black writers/commenters have done on this blog concerning Asians and Asia and Asian issues, Zydar's post fits the bill.

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  6. I must be in the minority. I do think there is a difference in Black Americans between the Northern and Southern regions. I was born in the South and have gone back and forth my entire life between the two. While I don't agree with the slight generalization, I do believe he has a point. I notice a difference in feeling, culture, and a general way of life when I go back to the South, which has mostly been for family gatherings. Not saying the North or South is any better than one another, just a personal opinion. If you haven't lived or spent a significant amount of time in either region, of course you wouldn't FULLY understand how it is.

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    1. i don't think anyone's denying a difference, but to say that southern black people value family, knowledge, among other things more than northern black people is a pretty big generalization...

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    2. It's a generalization that holds some merit. I don't think me or Zydar are saying ALL Southern people are like this or ALL Northern people are like that, but it is a noticeable difference that I and other people I know have noticed concerning that specific point. Not trying to generalize, just felt like some here were flat out denying when it all comes down to an opinion.

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    3. don't worry, of course I know you don't mean ALL. but the sentence leads one to believe that strong family values and a thirst for knowledge is more of a southern trait. if this is true, then what about the stereotype of southerners being country bumpkins, that all they do is act lazy and sound uneducated. Those are two very contradicting stereotypes and I have heard the latter more so than the former. And with the former, which southern black people are we referring to? when he says rural, is he using it as a synonym for southern, or is he talking about the rural (country) areas throughout the south? What about inner city Black Americans within the south like, say, black people in Atlanta? All I'm saying is that it was a pretty loaded sentence, which may be why most people picked up on it.

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    4. I agree with what you said. Inner city conditions are in both the North and South. Maybe it's best to say inner city people vs rural people regardless of geographic area. Inner city conditions are the way they are because poverty is concentrated in these areas. Everyone is in the same predicament so you don't see a variety of people from all backgrounds. Not to mention they are mostly racially segregated. With poverty comes all social ills and in some cases a feeling of hopelessness. Of course, black people in the North can live in the suburbs and not deal with these realities.
      AC

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    5. Ahh, now it would start to come down to a person's experience. You've heard that southerners are country bumpkins more, yet I've experienced that we/they have strong family values more, so maybe that's why I didn't care too much about those two stereotypes.To be honest, when I watched that show "You Don't Know Dixie" on the History Channel, they talked about the "country bumpkin" stereotype while showing mostly white people, like in the DEEP south. I'm glad topics like these are being cleared up and discussed. There are so many layers, it would take a lot of time to discuss them all.

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  7. Can I say that the "acting white" phenomena or the education is not valued approach is not really a black thing but and American problem. In American culture, there is a need to pick on and humiliate the nerd. Looking to smart will make you seem like a smart ass, a loser, or socially awkward. This is all over American media in teen flicks and music such as corporate hip hop. I say corporate because the hip hop today is not true hip hop. It is a popular genre that is now more of a caricature of an old black stereotype that's been around since the slavery days. But, its not really fair to place lack of educational motivation on black Americans when American society doesn't care about education. Politicians do what ever they can to lower the budget for schools. We tend to teach our kids to pass a test instead of critical thinking and learning about the world around them. If you are in a impoverished area, chances are your quality of education is poor compared to a rich suburb. In fact, America is not on the top of the list of math and science comprehension. So we as a society have a long way to go in investing in every child from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Also, one last important point, black kids in America do not receive an education that reflects them. It is very white focused and the strives that black Americans had made are not included in the curriculum. We have done a lot for this country but all of our contributions have been omitted. It's more complex than just MLK, the civil rights movement, and Harriet Tubman.

    AC

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    1. Forgive my typos. LOL!
      AC

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    2. Check and mate. I agree with all of what you said.

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    3. @AC: Indeed, it's not limited to black Americans in itself. What's unique about the matter to the point other AfA figures have pointed it out is that whilst the nerd is picked on, regarded as socially awkward, etc., more often than not he/she encounters varying degrees of success in life, earning the respect of those around themselves. Apparently with AfAs, its a case of the sea crab. One achieves success in life after putting their own effort in, time & patience combined. Yet there are those who would pull them down out of spite & envy. Deviation here, the sea crab analogy is a surprisingly common PoC cultural tale, characteristically absent from the Eurocentric perspective. I heard it as a child at my godmum's feet. But as I said, it's this mentality that is damaging in the long run. Truth be told I concur on your point about American society not giving a damn about education. I recall chilling with a crowd of our gen back in Hawai'i, 2008. I asked them what kind of books did they read. Only one read, and it was mostly graphic novels. Somehow I found that most disturbing. Mind you, they weren't dumb, but not intellectually inclined either, even for basic necessities. I suppose however that the powers that be have a vested interest in keeping the sheeple (as they see us) either downtrodden, or blinded to the glaring realities. Bread & circuses my friend, that or sword & suffering...

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    4. I completely agree with everything AC said about the USA being anti education. Yet because of white privilege and media representation a problem among some black people becomes all black people do not value education. Yet this country (sorta) elected Dubya who was an unashamed public dumb ass. Where is the outcry about how rich white men don't value education? Why don't rich white men learn to speak proper English. We are rich white men so proud of their ignorant backwards behavior? Please show me the K-12 classroom in the USA where smart kids do not teased.

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  8. I'm not surprised on your comment about Nigerians, having heard that some Malaysians can be quite prejudiced towards them. I do hope you meet some good ones in the future, you know, the international students working on attaining a degree in your universities. But I look forward to the latter parts of your write-up

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    1. @Goo Hara: Thank you for your comment. It means a lot to me within this context. Suffice to say, my countrymen consider themselves to have basis in behaving so. I do it for quite different reasons. But as I mentioned earlier, I will explain in due time. Many thanks :D

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  9. Im from the Deep South as well and I do notice some slight differences between the regions.

    I'm from Georgia and the first time I went North was in Maryland/DC. I remembered going to Baltimore expecting for it to be so radically different than Atlanta. I remembered going there,but it didn't seem like I left there. Both places have some similarities: they're predominately Black and are Black Meccas with these prosperous Black folks doing it for themselves. Even with the dialects, at least where I were, I really didn't see that much of difference in it. As a whole most Black Southerners and other minorities don't have Southern accents. Even in the small towns, there is only a twinge of it,but again a great deal of them don't seem to have it as much. Far as some Black Baltimoreans , they reminded me of some of the people from my home city. Now when I went to Pennsylvania..I felt a culture shock with that wayyy more than Baltimore/DC maybe because I didn't go to Philly. As a whole most Northerners seems reserved. Before I went to my family, my mom would often tell me to speak when you're spoken to up North. My mom's friend has a son who was born/raised in Brooklyn and he was talking of how a GA native said hi to him,but didn't respond. The person thought that he was being unfriendly,but he wasn't.

    I also agree with you about the South about it being family oriented.There are also other things about the South also particularly places like Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. They seem to be more superstitious and has a deep history,.When I was growing up, all I could hear my grandparents and great grandparents talk about is what they're lives were like in the past. They would talk about Creoles, Gullahs/Geechees ,the people they knew and so on.I still think about my 7th grade teacher talking about Gullahs/Geechees and about rumors of ghosts roaming there.(like I really wanted to hear that) when we went on a trip to Savannah GA.Then they would talk about/spoke Pig Latin. My mom and a couple of friends of hers would express anger over someone and be talking about the other person in their face without knowing what they were saying. Though I forgot about the Pig Latin, still it was interesting learning those things from them. Every region of the US have some history/culture in it,but in the South, it just seems more profound.

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    1. I'm from Maryland so I think my state is really more of a border state. Not southern or northern. We are under the Mason-Dixon line, but we don't have distinct northern or southern characteristics. It's a hodge podge. Segregation was here as well. My parents were educated under segregation and if you talk to them they believe we should have stayed segregated because black teachers had to be more educated then white teachers. Therefore they had better instructors. The whites had better facilities, but white teachers up here did not have to be as fully educated. Some of them only had a few college credits and they started teaching. While black teachers had masters degrees. In Maryland, there is a difference between the Baltimore/Washington metro area and rural southern/eastern shore areas. I'm from the rural area so we have our own folklore and many of us have slave ancestors who have been in this area for three hundred to four hundred years. I'm from the area where Harriet Tubman is from and some of her relatives are still living right in my hometown. So, yeah Maryland is pretty complex. I can tell people from Baltimore or people from Pennsylvania a mile away.
      AC

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    2. I agree with you about Maryland.

      Im always referring to being a Northern state because many of the natives from there( family included) would say that it's a Northern state. Then I was reading in history book where it was once was classified as a Southern state, before going North and you say that it's a Mason-Dixie state. Though I've been saying Maryland was up North, I'm more inclined to what you say about it.

      I stayed in Cheverly( I don't know how far that is from Baltimore) for nearly a week. I didn't get homesick. The vibe in Maryland felt like Atlanta. Some of the native reminded me of the people I knew from home. The only reason I knew that I wasn't in GA was because of the Potomac River( Geez! that a big ol mass of water) and the Whitehouse. Otherwise, it was all good.

      Your hometown seems interesting. I wished I would have known about that part of Maryland.I like going to places ,especially those where I can learn more about Black history. Haven't seen my Maryland family for a while,but the next time we have a reunion..or just a simple visit, I will tell them about this.

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    3. Cool you stayed in Cheverly. Yeah I have family near there in Upper Marlboro. They say PG county is one of the black meccas is the country. To me Maryland is not northern at all but I know people refer to it as northern. Well really people on the other side of the bay bridge as we say around where I'm from say it is. In college, I had a friend from Richmond who never thought Maryland to be a northern state. So.. yeah I guess it all depends on who your are talking to.

      AC

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  10. All I have to say is this:

    A Malaysian is writing this. Not a Malaysian-American, but a Malaysian from Malaysia living in Malaysia.

    A Malaysian is writing this. He's noting differences between not just between Afro-Americans and Africans, but between AAs from different regions of America.

    It's not whether or not he gets everything right or if his personal observations are spot on or not, it's the fact that someone living in another part of the planet - not the country, the planet - is able and willing to notice that there are differences.

    That's something people living down the street for the last 400-500 years still haven't picked up on.

    Profound.

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    1. This.

      And the fact that this post and the next 4 of this series are in response of what have been said in the comment section in his previous post. It was basically requested. No need to be harsh with him.

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  11. Zydar,

    I don't take offense to your observation of regional differences among African Americans as I do believe that social environment around you does influence behavior. I think what isn't accounted for, even by African American scholars, is the presence of real socio-economic class differences among African Americans which would account for these "cultural differences" as class is culture. Your class is more than your income. It's how you walk, talk, dress, where you eat, what you eat, etc. So what is being described as regional differences may in fact have to do with access to resources.

    While rural African Americans *may* have stronger kinship networks this might be a result of needing to pool resources together in order to survive. My relatives in the South often lived down the road from one another so they could help and look out for one another esp. if someone got sick, needed help with babysitting and in some cases, shared the burden of doing sharecropping work together.

    I actually think you were quite generous in your treatment of the malady because Zydar, I think it's more complicated than the false representation of African Americans in media. Indeed white privilege plays a role in how African Americans are portrayed. But whiteness carries with it a monetary advantage with it which has devastating political and social consequences for non-whites barred from cashing in on this same racial advantage. But I don't think this is all that there is to the malady. I just don't give white folks that much credit and African Americans need to own some of our own mess.

    I will go out on a limb and say that integration was probably one of the worst things that happened to African Americans' drive and motivation to succeed. Hear me out: Under Jim Crow, despite limited civil rights protections, African Americans became doctors, lawyers, small business owners and opened schools and banks. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964, many Black professionals RAN to suburbia, leaving in their wake, Black communities devastated first by "brain drain" and then good paying factory jobs started to dry up and move to white areas (Hello, Detroit), funding for public education got severely cut and then as you note drugs made its way into these communities in the 1970's and in some neighborhoods, whole generations of African Americans (particularly men) have been lost.

    So couple the limited conventions with which African American urban life is portrayed in media with very real economic hardships brought on by the disadvantage of not being white (lack of jobs, under-performing schools, poor housing conditions) and some poor choices (i.e. instant gratification vis-a-vis dropping out of school to take a low-wage hourly job or make quick dope money) on the part of some individual African Americans and most could understand the malady which you discuss.

    I don't think your commentary is at all off-base or offensive. (I am curious about your avoidance of Nigerians though). African Americans need to learn to accept diversity within our own community along with some criticism both from within and outside. I just want to give some food for thought that regional differences often have to do with class/economic differences.

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    1. @clevagirl73

      I...I...

      Am stunned. You have just given me even more food for thought. I didn't consider drawing upon these threads that you've pointed out. Now it becomes crystal clear. In this post I was referring to the inclination of Southern AfAs towards stronger kinship ties, etc. It makes perfect sense that people who share ethnicity & culture (or in extreme cases anything in common) would bandy together to survive, and in the process strengthen those social bonds. Rather than those factors being an absolute point. Again, I automatically assumed that the readers would also consider individual differences as well. But thanks for seeing between those lines.

      Undoubtedly so. PoCs tend to be at a disadvantage in the US, even if they're fiscally more secure than the average white American. Case in point, Indian Americans (wonder if they're any reading this blog?) Per capita, IAs are the most successful immigrant groups in the US, with first generation IAs (that is those who came here) earning far more than local Americans. Yet as the Milwaukee Gurdwara shooting demonstrates, they too face prejudice & discrimination despite their strong economic status. What's to say about my other siblings of color?

      Yes, I'm familiar with that theory, although I'll not go as far as to say that integration is the worst thing to happen to the AfA community. Rather, like my point on blaxploitation, it's a double edged sword. It was precisely BECAUSE (or arguably in spite of) the Jim Crow laws & institutional racism that the AfA community was forced to rely on its own resources, thereby developing its own talent pool & economic resources. True, it was nowhere near as well-developed as white America, but it ran as a moderately effective parallel (this can also be said of other PoC i.e. AsAs & Hispanic Americans) The CRM may have obtained institutional equality (but socially we all know otherwise) yet what you've highlighted has undoubtedly weakened black Americans. One thing led to another; white flight, ghettoization, the booming drug trade by those who were greedy enough to betray their fellow man (anyone of any color can be responsible) and voila, we have the quandary faced today. In retrospect, another glaringly obvious tradeoff with the CRM is equality on a legal & institutional level, but not socially (otherwise we wouldn't have white privilege)

      But I dither. My thanks clevagirl573, for your enlightening contributions. Cheers :D

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  12. Zydar,

    Despite how people feel about this post, I commend you for opening the gates to a huge conversation on the narrative. Debate/conversation is how we learn and grow. So, good job.

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  13. Hey i might be a tad off here but wasn't this whole thing supposed to be a further explanation of a quote from your previous article? this one:
    "I got to know peoples & cultures that prided themselves on family values, education, hospitality and above all else, honor. At the risk of being offensive (as if this entire post wasn't already :p XD) this I hazard is the stark difference between black Americans, and black Africans"
    and in this post I saw the mention of family values being and education important for rural AfAs (but not so much for northern) so I'm wondering how this (family values and education important for rural AfAs) is different from the strong family values and education in black africans or do you plan to talk about that in the later posts? just wondering. if im completely off, my b...

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    1. @question...

      I will most certainly, though I'm trying to balance a discussion between the peoples of Africa, their cultures & the histories that make them who they are. I must admit all the same, I have a tendency to ramble on & on. But, yes. I will do so when possible.

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  14. @zydar

    um i just wanted to correct you on one point...IA are not the most successful immigrant population in America...Nigerians are. IA dont even come second...i found it odd that you said this and would like for you to name the source if possible.

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    1. @Halime

      Thank you for pointing that out. Referring to the success of IAs, I meant their financial earning power. That having said, Neo-African Americans are much more well educated than any recent immigrant groups, even Asian-Americans. According to the 2000 census, the number of college diploma holders is tightly even between Egyptians & Nigerians, with a rough margin of 1.1% in favor of the former.

      Here's the source. I must note that I distrust institutional statistics, as census data can be unreliable at times & there's also the subject of objective impartiality:

      http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/stp-159/STP-159-egypt.pdf
      http://www.census.gov/population/cen2000/stp-159/STP-159-nigeria.pdf

      With regards, Boon.

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  15. Hi all!! I've never contributed much to this site besides views and, in general, tend to be a passive presence online even beyond the virtual walls of this domain. But, here I am, engaging. Thanks to Zydar/Boon and the commenters on this post for saying something to pull me out of my shell.

    I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with anything that was written in the original post nor in the comments to follow, I merely want to point out that I think we're having at least three very different conversations that cannot truly be discussed simultaneously.

    First, Black Americans can never be compared to Africans because we are not Africans but Americans. We share physical traits with Africans but that is where the similarities end. For a very long time, many of us (humans) have wrongfully engaged in comparative conversation and study of these two groups of people but, ultimately, it's an unfair discussion. It's like comparing Australians to English people or Spaniards to Hondurans. They share general physical characteristics but are from two different continents! Not countries, continents. Yes, Black Americans were brought to this country from Africa but we've been here for several hundred years and 96% of us have no actual idea of where in Africa we'd go to look for our own "kinsmen". We are Americans. Our cultural norms, mores, values, language, beliefs, etc are decidedly American. To me, the comparisons and discussions only alienate two groups of people from one another because their commonalities are literally, just skin deep. By comparing one to the other, it insinuates that one group is wrong or bad where the other group is right or good and vice versa, like we should be more like Africans because that's where we're from. Africa is a large continent with over 50 countries, which already makes comparisons troubling because with over 50 countries and their states and cities, there is no singular African identity anyway. I would argue for the eradication of these comparisons and allow Africans (in all of their regional & cultural similarities and differences) to be their own people and Americans (in all of their regional & cultural similarities and differences) to be their own people.

    Second, as someone else pointed out, the general & generic differences between urban and rural cultures tend to be more geographical than ethnic and regional. I am from Chicago, born & raised. I'm from a large, urban environment in the midwest (and noted that we were left out of the original discussion due to lack of information) while some posters are from large metropolis' in southern regions and others from small or rural areas in Northern regions. I've worked for short periods of time in less urban areas but I've only ever lived in Chicago, Manhattan & Los Angeles so I can't speak to life in the south and/or rural cities and towns and because I don't want to be presumptuous, I'll refrain from making comparisons that extend beyond my expertise. The cap to this bottle is that we should be careful with how these differences are viewed & compared with respect to geographical, regional and cultural/ethnic factors.

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    1. Third, and this is more of a direct response to some comments left early in the discussion. There was at least one young lady that mentioned the intraracial prejudice and/or discrimination she & her family members face. You mentioned that you are Caribbean and I'd like to point out that that's also a separate culture from American culture and may play at least a small part in why you feel different from the people around you. I'd also caution against these beliefs of being different from the "typical black male/female" and paying more attention to the discrimination than the connections or non-impact interactions. By non-impact interactions, I mean the cashier at Target, the person filling your order at Burger King, the person pumping their gas across from you at your local station, etc. Discussing the "typical black male/female" asserts that the Black American collective isn't nuanced and diverse. My family is from a low-income area in a city that currently boasts the highest murder rate in the world yet, neither me nor my three brothers have ever been shot at. In my extended family, there has been one violent (and accidental) death in the past 15 years and two criminal convictions in the same amount of time. One was an admittedly young & stupid crime and the other was the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was educated at Loyola in Los Angeles and know more Caucasian drug users & sellers than I do Black ones. We can't continue to judge intraracially and form opinions based on these judgments. The older I get, the more I engage in judgment free interactions with people and, in general, you'll find that people typically all want the same things: love, success, happiness. There will always be people that have tendencies or habits that are indicative of ethnic customs, comedians make their living by pointing them out to us, but if you really sit down and think about the number of intraracial prejudice and/or discrimination you've actually faced, the numbers would probably be low in comparison to the population in or nearby your area. It also may warrant scrutiny to the amount of intraracial prejudice and/or discrimination you've administered, knowingly or unknowingly. I spend a lot of time with people that fit the socioeconomic profile of low-income and, in many cases, low-educated individuals but the worse crimes they commit are against grammar, not society.

      All the same, any and all of what I wrote is open to discussion. Like Zydar/Boon, I don't claim to be an expert. I'm not even a sociologist, I'm merely a filmmaker. But it is my humble opinion that the discussion could go further if it were separated and more defined. And I'm out.

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    2. bless this post
      completely agree in that black americans and africans are the same in that we have a shared history. but at the end of the day, we are americans and have a decidedly different culture. as with africans, all africans can have a sense of unity in that they have a shared history, but at the end of the day there are hundreds of different cultures, ethnicities, languages, and more, in a continent big enough to swallow some of the worlds largest nations. with all of this comes different experiences, outlooks on life, values, and more that just cannot be fairly compared.
      also going off of what you were saying about the "typical black female/male" I feel like the most extreme stereotypes and connotations (mostly negative) associated with black people are, many times, put forth as the norm (i mean, how can they not be if that's all that is shown in the media), while people who don't fit into this are seen as exceptions. white (and other non-black) people do this to us, and we do this to ourselves. seeing ourselves as exceptions when we do not act like the "typical black person" (a phrase which, to me and probably others, is just code for "what the media portrays of us and what society thinks of us").
      we see all the negative images of us and think "well I'm not like that. my friends aren't like that" when will we start to realize that that does not mean we are exceptions, but actually the norm, and these extreme behaviors are the exceptions? I think most of us do know that but at the same time speak and maybe act in a way that suggests we don't (if that makes sense). overall, I hope I didn't completely hijack your post with nonsense but i really think you made some valid points.

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    3. It wasn't a hijack at all and you hit the nail exactly on the head. Most of us are the norm and not the exception yet we consider it the other way around way, waaaaay too often.

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  16. Zydar...bruh...where's the next installment?

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