Haitians vs. Jamaicans, African-Americans vs. Everybody: Cut The Crap, We’re All Black
A few months ago, one of my Jamaican friends told me that he doesn’t like Haitians. I asked him why, and he said it was because other Jamaican-Americans he knew influenced him to build a disdain for them when he came to the States. My thoughts immediately trickled to my stepfather, who won’t hesitate to throw in a smart remark or nasty epithet about “those Africans” scattered in our neighborhood, and how they have no respect for African Americans whenever the subject pops up.
When I was younger, friends from high school and devious classmates would tease foreign blacks for having unusual names, kinky hair, deeply dark skin and non-designer clothes. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve had countless encounters with people of African descent, speaking on how “stupid,” “ignorant,” and “lazy” American-born blacks can be. Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are known for disliking one another (don’t confuse one for the other), Liberians and Nigerians seem to be divided (one of our editors, Nigerian, said a Liberian man once called Nigerians “419 scammers” to her face) and when it comes to black Americans—well, a lot of folks just don’t like us, and vice versa.
All of this makes me wonder: Why do we hate each other? Whether you are a black from the States, Europe, the islands or anywhere else in the world, we are all a part of the African diaspora and should respect one another as distant kin. Sure, we have our cultural differences, but we cannot forget that we share even stronger cultural ties. Whether it’s the richness and diversity of our skin tones, the contagious African grooves that are injected in all of our respective musical genres (from Reggae, Soca and Bachata to Clave, Samba, Hip Life, High Life and Hip-Hop), or the innate rhythms embedded in our DNA that allows us to create dance moves that are emulated around the world—we are connected.
So why is it that we choose to pinpoint what separates us rather than what binds us together? Why do we scrutinize other black and brown ethnic groups for the accents they carry or the languages that they speak? Is it remnants of the slave mentality that cause us to divide ourselves based on meaningless things like the texture of our hair or complexion of our skin? The black race suffers enough detestation from the world for a variety of reasons (and based on stereotypes), we don’t need to harvest that same aversion among ourselves.
Let’s kill the system of divide and conquer and replace it with acceptance and unity. Whether you are dark or light, American-born or raised from foreign soil, have hair that is wavy or kinky locks that coil, recognize what makes you unique, but also learn to embrace the fact that you are a part of a beautifully diverse race. We will never fully grow as a people until we learn to respect our differences and begin to work together for the greater good. So please, the next time you find yourself thinking negatively or ready to spew words of disgust or abhorrence at another sista or brotha simply because their black is tied to another culture, ask yourself if you really have a reason to feel the way you do. Or is your unnecessary condemnation a result of internalized stereotypes and superimposed rivalries? No one ethnicity is better than another, so please, stop with the madness!