I remember having a race relations course during my freshman year of school and wondered, “Why the heck am I in this class? I already know about the strained relations as a person of color.” Although I aced the course, I have yet to ace understanding the differences between being a first generation Nigerian born in America, and being an African American. There are levels to relationships between ‘First-Geners’ and Black Americans and these will be discussed on a surface level via scenarios.
First Gen Kid relationship with Black American – The bullying
First hand accounts of being teased for being different, for sounding different, having a different name, being asked if one ate lions, lived in huts, clicking sounds as language, seeing comedy specials about being a spear-chucker, “oogah boogah” sounds as language – all of these, are accounts of how I was treated growing up. Many may have never gotten over such treatment, many still have carried old chips off the shoulder and believed all Black Americans are the same. Have you ever felt such? Think about it.
Black American relationship with First Gen Kid – The Judgment
First hand observations of first generation kids judging Black Americans from stereotypes shown on TV, or taught by their parents that Black Americans are a certain type. The use of the word “akata” thrown heavily in a derogatory manner, trying to continue the story that Black Americans have no culture. Some first gen kids are even made to feel as if they are superior to Black Americans. This notion is usually subsequent from past bullying by Black Americans or just a learned behavior from immigrant parents. Have you done such? Think about it.
Black American and First Gen Kid disconnect with the continent – The Denial
There comes a point where both the First Gen Kid (one that is less fluid with cultural identity) and the Black American can relate. That is when cultural differences are out of the way. This is just one facet of unity, a bit perverse, but happens.
Black American and First Gen Kid – Acceptance
There have been recent acceptance and an ushering of good relations between First Gen Kids that still have their cultural identity intact and Black Americans that genuinely want to learn another’s culture and develop genuine friendships. Whether it is a newfound interest or a friendship by chance, it is still a bridge to be walked.
Do you believe the relationships between Black Americans and First Generation Americans have improved or decreased? Share your thoughts.