It has been a long time since I heard any good news come out of America. The recurring theme has been about racism and police brutality against African Americans. As an author who has connected with a number of African Americans living in America, I just had to write this post. In this post, I share 3 things African Americans need to know:
When you start doesn’t matter, how you finish does
- A few years ago, I watched a cooking show and something struck me in that episode. I think it was MasterChef Australia if I’m not mistaken. In that episode, the contestants had to follow a professional chef in making a particular dish. The pro-chef did one thing, the contestants had seconds to do the same thing before the pro-chef did something else. One of the contestants made a mistake and stopped. She had two choices: a) continue with the process whilst knowing she had made a mistake or b) start afresh whilst watching the pro-chef giving herself a chance of winning. The contestant chose option b. She started afresh and was behind the other contestants but she sped up and was able to catch up with the others. At the end of that round, she came in 2nd place.
- Dear African Americans, it doesn’t matter when you start and how many more other people are ‘ahead’ of you. You are not in competition with anyone else. What matters is how you finish.
Nobody cares about you
- I am a mom, I have a daughter. You won’t see me writing about sons or boys routinely. That doesn’t mean I have a thing against boys/sons, I just can’t relate at the moment because I don’t have one.
- I am a meat eater. You won’t find me writing about vegetarian dishes routinely. I don’t have a thing against vegetarians but I just don’t care about vegetarian food
- In Nigeria, programmes shown on local televisions focus mostly on shows made by Nigerians. There is access to TV stations that show non-Nigerian shows. I cannot imagine a Lebanese living in Nigeria complaining that Nigerian TV doesn’t show more Lebanese shows.
- Dear African Americans, this may sound harsh but truthfully, no one cares about you. The way I see it, if you want to see more posts about boys/sons, you write one. If you want to see more posts about vegetarians, you write them. So you if want to see more things that cover issues that are important to you, don’t expect anyone else to do it. Just do it yourself!
- Take the Nigerian movie industry for instance. Hollywood would happily play Nigeria as a country filled with militants with very bad accents. However, Nigeria took charge of its narrative and produces its own movies and series every Nigerian is happy to watch. Yes, the budget Nigerian movie producers have is nowhere near what Hollywood has but I happily watch Nigerian movies over a Hollywood movie anytime as I find them relatable. I do not expect Hollywood to cater to Nigerians and in fact, I want Hollywood to not feature Nigeria in any of its movies. I find their attempts extremely annoying.
- In Nigeria, a lot of neighbourhoods have their own security watch. They don’t rely on the police for their safety. In fact, where my dad lives in Nigeria, there is private security that watches everyone that comes in and goes out of the estate. There’s a locally agreed curfew imposed by the residents for residents and visitors. If you are outside of the estate at 10pm, you will not be able to drive into the estate with your car. Your only option would be to walk in through one side gate.
- I don’t live in America, so I don’t know how possible this is or not but I am interested in finding out. Is there anything that stops African Americans from taking their own security into their own hands in their neighbourhoods? Can you not set up your own entry and exit watch? If the police are the problem, can you not set up ‘watch’ for whenever anyone drives into your streets? In fact, set up live recordings of your areas. This way, you hold everyone accountable including the police. If you have a local neighbourhood watch, can you not have a transparent dialogue with your local police department telling them what you expect from them?
- Apart from being a shrewd businessman, one thing no one can take away from Africa’s richest man (Aliko Dangote) is that he created job opportunities for Nigerians by setting up shop in Nigeria. He doesn’t ask people to buy from him because of the colour of his skin or his accent. He takes his business very seriously. So whilst he is creating wealth for himself, he is also re-distributing it in the communities that he works with
- In fact, there are times when I actively seek out products that have been ‘made in Nigeria’ over other West African countries. If I cannot buy products made in Nigeria, how can I expect anyone else to? If the economy is poor, the community is poor.
- As I don’t know much about African Americans outside of what turns up on my timeline, how many rich African Americans re-invest their wealth in their local communities?
- I had a conversation with a lady I met from Hong Kong recently. I wanted to understand racism in Asian countries. According to her, as long as you have money, no one cares about the colour of your skin! Learn their language if you want to do business with them. They’ll learn your language if they want to do business with you. That makes a lot of sense though. Whenever I go to Brixton market in London, I find the Asian grocers speak fluent Nigerian pidgin English. In fact, some of them know a bit of Yoruba too.
- What this means is, those who are financially able to should create job opportunities in their local communities. Remember, no one cares about you. If you need something, consider supporting those from your local communities first. When you are successful, outsiders will seek you out. There are a number of successful Nigerian musicians who have now been signed up to Sony Music because Sony wants their success to rub off on them too. If you are wretched and suffer from self-hate, the world will be ruthless to you. If you are united as a family, you are strong beyond measure.
Obviously, these 3 things African Americans need to know are not set in stone, they are just my personal opinion as of right now. I really would like to know more about how African Americans are taking charge of their own narratives (and not just by kneeling or protesting). Has anyone set up a SMART Objective? What else do you think African Americans need to know? Please leave a comment below.