Updated: Feb 23, 2019
How do we combat the ignorance of African people? Do we remain silent about the negative images of Africans in every aspect of media? No, many of us do use our platforms (e.g. social media, blogs, books, football fields, etc.) to show that we are tired of the status quo. We insist on showing the world that there are positive images and positive African role models. When I speak of Africans, I am naming every so called Black person or melanated person across the diaspora. We are Africans in America not African Americans. We must always show pride and solidarity with Africa and Africans.
For generations, albion white Western Europeans create these mass media propaganda campaigns degrading, dehumanizing, and criminalizing Africans. The entire point of these campaigns is to make us Africans believe we are inferior and ultimately bad people. When they continue to push this agenda on the world not only will Africans and other races will believe this too. With the belief, your actions will follow accordingly. When people continuously see these negative images and stories about Africans subconsciously they start to believe the lies and misnomers. This propaganda was used to rationalize African slavery in the United States and globally. Negative African propaganda is still used in the news, with always showing African criminalization and poverty as if its only Africans committing crimes or have less money. Beliefs transform to actions. Africans begin to display the very actions we are accused of; other races treat us according to the lies fed. From birth, we are assimilated to an understanding that “white is right” and “Black is bad.” The Ferris State University Jim Crow Museum display several examples of anti-Black propaganda. Their website says this about racist cartoons: “Between 1928 and 1950, America's premier animators-Walt Disney Corporation, Warner Bros., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Merrie Melodies, Looney Tunes, and R.K.O. Radio Pictures-produced many cartoons that ridiculed the appearance, behavior, and intelligence of African Americans and other racial and ethnic minorities.” (https://www.ferris.edu/HTMLS/news/jimcrow/antiblack/)
It is in the advantage of the oppressor to justify African systematic institutional oppression, racism and discrimination. Make the Africans think it is their fault why they are criminals, poor and the lowest in world power status; when we are the majority across the diaspora. If we believe their propaganda, then their projection will result in our negative behavior; which leads to their lies becoming truth. Whites can continue to murder us through genocide across the diaspora, emasculate our African Kings with homosexuality and dismantle African families and values; if we buy into their anti-African propaganda. Their laws, systems and institutions will not be challenged because we have been made to believe their lies. Yes, throughout centuries, there have been some Africans concerned enough to protest our negative images but not enough. Today we still face many negative images of Africans probably more so than ever now that we have new age technology and the world wide web. We are constantly bombarded with media that misrepresent us Africans. It is a shame. The writer Jennifer Wilson says in her article How Red Russia Broke New Ground in the Portrayal of Black Americans on www.pri.org:
“When Langston Hughes traveled to Moscow in 1932 to film “Black and White” — a Soviet propaganda film about the horrors of American racism — he figured he had little to lose. Hughes and the remaining cast, a group of 21 young African Americans, believed the nascent Soviet film industry, which had launched the careers of innovative and socially conscious directors like Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin and Dziga Vertov, couldn’t help but do a better job of portraying Black people than Hollywood. The latter, depicted Black people as violent, dim-witted, and sexually rapacious. The fact that the Soviets wanted to employ Black actors to play Black roles was already an encouraging sign. Hollywood films tended to cast white actors in blackface; a rare exception at the time was the 1929 American film “Hallelujah” whose all Black cast was only approved when the director promised Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM) that it would be a film about the horrors of Black sexual deviance…” “One of those values was the importance of internationalism and the spread of proletarian consciousness to Black and brown nations who’d been oppressed by capitalism and colonialism. However, Soviet writers and illustrators too often perpetuated a lot of the harmful stereotypes about these nations that they were ostensibly trying to dismantle.For instance, in a popular children’s book about chocolate production, ‘How the Chocolate Got to Mossel'prom” (Mossel’prom was a state department store that sold candy), the cocoa beans are collected by an African boy who we’re told “doesn’t go to school’ and “runs around naked.’ He’s accompanied by his friend, a ‘red-skinned’Native American child (who’s magically popped up in Africa), and their movements in the trees are seemingly mirrored by an image of a monkey climbing up the same cocoa trees. The way the African child is pictured, with bright red lips and exaggerated features, harkens back to American minstrel shows where blackface performers employed similar techniques. Though, the American intention was to debase black people, whereas the Soviets were presumably doing this within the context of solidarity building.” (https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-08-31/how-red-russia-broke-new-ground-portrayal-black-americans)
Dear Africans throughout the diaspora open your hearts, minds and souls to different perspectives. It is when you are open that you may experience different realities and understanding. We must challenge internally and externally the idea of what an African is and does. Research and study who and what great things Africans have done since the beginning of time. We, Africans were the first humans, created from The Black Dot, Melanin (Dr. Richard D. King, our ancestor) which means all other races came from us. We created all things from science, astronomy, math, religion, writing and everything else between. But you must be open to even deal with this information. There are no excuses for our ignorance due to all wisdom being at the end of our finger keystrokes, the internet holds all knowledge and wisdom. We must ask the right questions to discover key information about our histories. I have conversations with my peers and they ask me: “Why are we so dumb and ignorant? and “How we can change this reality?” My answers are simple. We must want to change. We must want to learn something besides the information we already know. We that have the wisdom and knowledge about Africans must share this information with our peers and strangers. We must tell our positive narratives, display our positive images, and continue to do amazing works in our communities throughout the diaspora. It is our duty to make this world better than how we came here as “Sankofa” suggests. Sankofa is an African word from the Akan tribe in Ghana. The literal translation of the word and the symbol is “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”
The word is derived from the words:
FA (look, seek and take).
The Sankofa symbolizes the Akan people’s quest for knowledge among the Akan with the implication that the quest is based on critical examination, and intelligent and patient investigation.” (https://www.berea.edu/cgwc/the-power-of-sankofa/)
Images from the Jim Crow Museum at Ferris State University
(https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-08-31/how-red-russia-broke-new-ground-portrayal-black-americans) Much love and abundance. Thank you for reading this. Subscribe and all dat other shit the links in my bio. Article also featured in the Arts Today Ezine 5.1.
Bio: Frenchaire Gardner is a serial entrepreneur and creative: Mother of Joseph Jr., Frenchaire-Two, Melchizedek Malcolm X and Sarai. Manufacturer of her business’s Be And Us LLC Nigerian Organic Shea Butter and retailer of her own African Market filled with African makers’ products. Founder of FFSMJ For Frenchaire-Two, Sarai, Melchizedek and Joseph Jr. Design House. Creates flyers. Partners with Exhale STL, Yeyo Arts Collective and The St. Louis Natural Hair & Black Culture Expo Foundation. She is a visual artist, marketer, model, activist, photographer, actress and dancer. Graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. Pan-African spiritualist. Listen and download The News You Can Use Podcast. Read her other published works: issuu.com/artstodayezine/docs/arts_today_5_7b/122
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