Wednesday, February 14, 2007

An Open Letter to Brother Barack Obama

An Open Letter To Brother Barack Obama

Dear Senator Obama,

I am writing this letter to you to express my disappointment with much of the commentary that I have read and heard about you and the quality of your blackness. I am only concerned with the views that are coming from The African-American community. The reason being, is that it does not nor should it surprise me that some whites are trying their best to act, in a country where race is the proverbial elephant in the room, as if your race does not matter.

My concern lies with the African-American community solely, because we have made great strides in this nation, as Dr. Martin Luther King so eloquently stated, to be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. So why are so many of us, politicians, news columnists and others so obsessed with judging your blackness and questioning whether or not you are black enough? It makes us seem as if we have split personalities and are confused about what we want. Are we, as African-Americans really ready to be judged simply by the content of our characters? Or, have we become so accustomed to relying on race as an issue to throw out as our trump card, that we are holding on dearly to the privilege of being treated as "other" due to the color of our skin?

What is also quite painful to witness, is that, in spite of the great strides made by African-American leaders such as Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X and African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah, who worked tirelessly to build a bridge between Blacks in America and their African brothers and sisters, that people are bringing up the issue that your father was an African Immigrant and that this fact somehow renders you unqualified or unable to relate to or represent American Blacks.

Have they forgotten that since the early 60's when African nations were receiving their independence from colonial rule, African-Americans have worked closely with their brothers and sisters in Africa both politically, socially and culturally to help assist them in making the transition to independence? Many African-Americans traveled to West Africa, joined the Peace Corps, volunteered during elections, and made nations like Ghana their adopted home. Also, the Freedom Movement in South Africa was influenced by the Civil Rights Movement here in America, and many South African Blacks looked to their African-American brothers and sisters in America for encouragement and inspiration. In turn, African-Americans led the fight on American soil, by sitting in, boycotting, and marching to help free their brothers and sisters from the Racist Apartheid Regime in South Africa.

So I am not getting the point that you being an African/American as opposed to an African-American somehow makes you less black. Anyone, from Colin Powell to Denzel Washington to Sean Bell to Amadou Diallo knows that being African/ Black/ Negro or whatever we choose to call ourselves, is an experience that is wrought with triumph and great accomplishment but also with the sting of racism, ignorance, hatred and many times death. It does not matter if you are from the 9th Ward in Louisiana or Cape Town in South Africa, like the words of a famous reggae tune "No matter where you come from, if you are a black man you're an African"!

I too am an African/American. My mother, from Harlem and my dad from Sierra Leone. And I experienced the worst in taunts and teasing from my African-American brothers and sisters. They said I was too black, that I was a filthy African, that I should go back home and live in the trees with the monkeys. My mother would wipe my tears and try to explain to me that the kids were ignorant and did not know anything about Africa and learned to hate themselves and me from what they saw on television.

Well that was 30 years ago. And we are still on the same subject making the same distinctions, in a much more grown up way, but still making the distinction. Your mom is White, so I guess that makes you too light.

When are WE going to stop the madness and realize that WE ARE ALL AFRICANS!!! And until anthropologists and archaeologists find one-million year old skeletal remains in Sweden... this includes white folks!!!

Best Wishes to you on your journey. May God Bless You, Keep You, and Protect You.


Aisha Karefa-Smart

1 comment:

adesoji said...

It is most unfortunate that we continue to fall into the trap of the divide and conquer mentality that has been imposed on us for centuries. The architects must be very happy that there plan has worked so well.

As long as we are unable to bless ourselves we can not be expected to bless each other. Instead we will do what ever we can in our power to pull and tear down because of an illusion that we believe in, this is the big lie we have been spoon fed and hold on to for dear life. When we decied tht we want to transform this in ourselves and communities we will until then the distactions continue. This in my humble opinion goes way beyond Senator Obama it speaks to the heart of the issues we continue to perpetuate in our communities, just go down the list.