I have learned that when making a life altering decision, you are either running away from something, such as problems, or running toward something, such as opportunity. Trust that decisions motivated by the latter (running toward something) are exponentially more beneficial than those motivated by the former (running away from something).
It is an understanding of the aforementioned logic that makes many of the decisions and public proclamations of African-Americans all the more peculiar as they often appear to be emanating from both sides of the equation. Put simply, they are running away from their problems for what amounts to an opportunity that is as genuine as fools’ gold; meaning the thing that they are running toward will in no way shape or fashion solve their problem.
When one attempts to logically illuminate and examine the primary problem facing African-Americans, their investigation should guide them toward the issue of identity, ancestry, and a homeland. It was into this abyss that Lark Voorhies, best known as Lisa Turtle on the show Saved by the Bell, recently stepped into with the following communication. “No, I am not black. I am American! I was born in America. I was not born in Africa, therefore I am not african. Africans are not african-americans!”
As previously discussed, I am certain that Lark does not realize that she is running from what is apparently her most significant problem, being inextricably linked to Black America; however, she believes that she is running toward greater opportunity by bathing herself in American patriotism. This identity problem is most certainly a problem that the vast majority of persons of African descent, regardless of where they are found, desperately need to resolve within themselves.
One of the most important things that any of us will be forced to answer during our lifetime is ‘who am I’? Make no mistake about it; this query reflects so much about our understanding of historical background, ancestry, heritage, upbringing, socialization, and where we project ourselves in the future.
One would be hard-pressed to find another area where there was less discord and misunderstanding among our people than moments when we are forced to definitively declare an identity. The answers to this poignant question of ‘who are you’, run the gamut as our people to this day define themselves or others in the race, in the following manner: Black, African-American, Negro, Nigger, Nigga, African, Moor, person of African descent, Muslim, Catholic, Black Muslim, Christian, American, and Black Christian.
In our defense, there is no other population of people like African-Americans who are devoid of a homeland that officially welcomes them with open-arms, consider the resistance of African nation’s to offer dual-citizenship status to those of us strewn throughout the Diaspora. Mrs. Voorhies’ statement touches upon the reality that the disdain that is all too common among Africans and African-Americans is a two-way street with ample room for hatred, disagreement, and unforgiveness. Words can never relate the level of disappointment that I felt when during my initial venture to Ghana in desperate pursuit of some connection to my ‘roots’ to find my African ‘brothers and sisters’ referring to African-Americans as ‘the white man’.
The alluded to experience drove home the reality that the masses of African-Americans who had developed an affinity for Africa through our readings of historical texts and literature had not only romanticized our ‘ancestral homeland’ but also filled in so many holes in our story with fanciful thoughts and expectations of how we would be welcomed home.
So the matter of racial identity that public figures such as Lark Voorhies and a slew of other young African-American stars have addressed is an important one that reveals much about how this next generation is constructing their understanding of racial matters. All indications are pointing to the reality that huge portions of this latest generation do not consider a relationship with their ‘ancestral homeland’ a priority as evidenced by their increasing tendency to mimic the values, priorities, and interests of whites.
The unsophisticated manner that young African-Americans such as Lark Voorhies address this matter of racial identity is a foreboding shadow that promises untold problems for persons of African descent, the Black community, and the continent of Africa. And for that reason, we should all be ashamed and recognize that if our children are not taught proper values regarding their racial identity and their duties on this planet, their idiotic understanding of such matters is honestly no one’s fault but our own.
James Thomas Jones III
© Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016.