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5 Lessons Traveling to Africa Taught Me About Being Black in America

Recently, I had the pleasure of traveling to Ghana for 10 days to explore the history and culture of the region. And contrary to America’s heightened fear that traveling to West Africa would give me Ebola, I am fortunate to reassure you that I am happy and healthy.

Now that your potential conditioned hysteria is reduced, here is something you should be concerned about:

Black America, we have so much to actually learn about Africa — and yes, it does matter.

For far too long, our perceptions have been negatively impacted by white dominated narratives that have plagued our grade school text books and public discourse about the Motherland. The separation between our people across the diaspora is not just geographic, but philosophic. And while both sides can assess blame on boasting superiority against the other — Black America’s constant dismissal of the continent in our identity makes us the bigger culprit.

I, too, was once guilty of this — but sometimes it takes one to go back and re-direct the masses. Consider this my form of “Sankofa.”

These were my five major takeaways during what has now become my restored relationship to the ancestral homeland:

1) Privilege is real.

During my stay in Ghana, for the first time in my life I felt what it was like to be in the majority. Most of the population is black and the experience of seeing my skin color on nearly every television station, public arena, and facet of society gave me a psychological gratification and confidence. A sense of pride that allowed me to walk in the street without feeling targeted. A level of high self-esteem when I told people my professional aspirations and was sincerely heard and not interrogated.

 

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