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Published:January 17th, 2008 06:39 EST
A Shared Color does not equal a shared Ethnic Concept

A Shared Color does not equal a shared Ethnic Concept

By Cherod Johnson

For many years, both immigrant Africans and native-born blacks classified themselves as African American; yet, when asked what would it take to close the gap that divides Africans and blacks, instead of unification, the groups found separation fueled conflict and animosity between them.

“Just because they are my color do not make them my kind”, says Promise Duncan, a black female student of Bowling Green State University (BGSU). “Many Africans have no clue what our ancestors had been through and how slavery impacted our economic, social and political growth. People look in the past as if slavery happened a hundred years ago, but because of our past, we still struggle to gain what we should have been given in the past. Today, we continue to fight for equal justice, a black president, things that we should have already been granted.”

Still, Africans and black Americans fail to forge close relationships with one another,whether it is on campus or in the classroom. Some of them blame slavery, culture and their racial identity and heritage as the reasons for why the gap of separation amongst them has increased.

“There is a blind misconception of Africa," Bade Okiana, an immigrant African from Ghana at BGSU said. “Many people, including blacks, still believe what they see in movies, that the majority of Africans are uncivilized and eat wild animals alive, when it's nothing like that in Africa.”

According to Duncan, Blacks fail to forge close relationship with Africans, not because of their cultural differences, but rather because they believe that Africans look down on them. “I believe that many Africans look down on Blacks because we have been in the so called “land of opportunity” for a long time. But because there are a larger number of Blacks that are in the prison system, compared to Blacks in college, they often believe that we are lazy and complain too much, instead of taking advantage of opportunities that they believe we all have, Duncan said. But the reality that they fail to realize is that not every black person in America is fortunate to go to college. Just like not everyone from their country is as fortunate to come to America to study.”

Yet, one would think that, because of there cultural struggles of white domination from slavery for blacks to colonial rule and apartheid for Africans, that they would come together to share and rejoice about how far they have both come. But rather, the hostility and animosity has increased on both sides.

“A shared complexion does not equal a shared culture, nor does it automatically lead to friendships,” says Kofi Glover, a native of Ghana and a political science professor at the University of South Florida. “Whether we like it or not, Africans and African-Americans have two different and very distinct cultures.”

Therefore, the question that must be asked, Is Unity Possible for Blacks and Africans? When are we going to talk openly and respectfully about the issues that continue to divide us? Or, are we going to let our differences out-weigh our similarities?

Direct comments or questions to cherodj@bgnet.bgsu.edu.