To whom it may concern (including those who are in denial of this): Our food, language, music, dance, historical narratives from the antebellum period, combat arts, spiritual traditions, healing modalities, DNA, and so on are clearly African derived. These are not matters of opinion, but reflect the empirical reality.
For example, one recent study found connections between stress and prostate cancer. They report:” Researchers at Loma Linda University Health contend that the disproportionate amount of chronic stress African Americans face is partly responsible for the alarmingly high incidence and mortality rates from prostate cancer observed in African American men.”
Of course, we also know that stress, as a long-term experience can greatly erode one’s quality-of-life, resulting in a shortened life-expectancy. A Pro-Publica article reports that: “Sherman James is a social epidemiologist who has spent the past four decades exploring why Black men have higher rates of diseases that lead to shorter lifespans than all other Americans.” The article continues, “His conclusion is that the constant stress of striving to succeed in the face of social inequality and structural racism can cause lasting physical damage.”
Furthermore, mental health challenges have particularly adverse impacts on Black men and boys. Citing a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, an article from Forbes states, “A 2021 JAMA study revealed that Black men had a larger increase in suicide attempts than any other racial group. It also found that suicide rates in Black male adolescents increased by 47% from 2013 to 2019. Black suicidologists say it’s partially due to racism.”
Returning to my initial point, I cannot fathom how a silent (or silenced) group can help themselves, help others, seek help, or meaningfully exist in community. I may be mistaken, but I believe that for Black men, such silence could be deadly. Suffering in silence is a sure fire way to expedite a decline in one’s mental and physical health. I think that rather than men, specifically Black men, being silent, we should be actively engaged with people that care about our health and well-being. Being silent, particularly given the many challenges that we face could be fatal, as, like the African American proverb says, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”
Black Male Suicide: A Silent Epidemic
Black Men Have the Shortest Lifespans of Any Americans. This Theory Helps Explain Why.
Cumulative stress in African American men may contribute to prostate cancer health disparity
The loss of a connection to our African ancestral lineages has created ever-widening fissures in our identities where the most bizarre and ahistorical notions take root.
Over time, the capacity of states to respond to climate disasters will diminish. The frequency and scale of those disasters will increase, eventually resulting in a situation that has already become normal in some parts of the US and the world, wherein people–living in the milieu of partial recoveries–struggle to carry on their lives in the midst of the detritus of environmental catastrophe. The long-term consequence of this, of course, will be a decrease in security, health, and well-being. These things are, I believe, inevitable. However, actions can be taken to reduce these vulnerabilities and to make local communities more resilient and self-reliant.
Conspiracy theories enable poorly informed people to feel like geniuses.
A Swahili proverb says “A false story has seven endings.” Part of why attempts to bypass our African origins rely on the mythical is because they negate the empirical. Such tales accentuate the implausible because the plausible is so apparent.
1. If our ancestors aren’t African, why do we primarily have West African haplotypes? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4048334/
2. Why do we eat African foods? How did these crops get to the Americas? https://learningenglish.voanews.com/a/how-enslaved-africans-influenced-american-diet/4816356.html
Why is our diet not identical to the Native American diet? Consider, for instance their relationship to corn in contrast to ours?
3. Why do we speak a language (AAVE or Ebonics) that has African syntax, rather than the syntax of Native American languages? https://www.academia.edu/17776766/Africanisms_in_Contemporary_English
4. What is this and how did it come to America? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banjo#/media/File:Bluegrass_banjo.png
5. The earliest Muslims in the US were Blacks. Where did they come from? How did they get here? They said that they were brought on slave ships. They actually told their stories. Were they mistaken or confused? https://nyupress.org/9781479847112/servants-of-allah/
6. Many Africans in the 18th and 19th Century used the term African in the organizations. Examples include the African Lodge, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the First African Church. Many of those who lived during these times were taken directly from Africa or had forbears that were. Were they mistaken? Were they confused?
7. Many African Americans gave their children African names. Why didn’t they give them Native American names? Were they confused about where they came from? https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/names-and-naming-african
8. Many Africans wrote narratives of the experience of enslavement. Where are the period narratives that affirm that we are, in fact, native to the US?
9. If we are native to the US, are Afro-Cubans, Afro-Brazilians, Jamaicans, Haitians, Afro-Columbians, etc.? If so, why does so much of their culture also derive from Africa? Such similarities defies coincidence do they not?
10. Why are our fighting traditions African-based? Why aren’t these methods of fighting found amongst Africans and not the indigenous population of the Americas? https://uscpress.com/Fighting-for-Honor
The reality is that our relationship with the indigenous population has been complicated. We have collaborated with them (i.e., in instances of insurrection), extirpated them (i.e., as in the legacy of the Buffalo Soldiers), and been exploited by them (i.e., as in slavery). However, we are not them. We are Africans.
To quote Edward Wilmot Blyden, “Your place has been assigned you in the universe as Africans, and there is no room for you as anything else.” The embrace of such a sublime reality as our inherent Africanness is the very foundation to our regeneration as a people.
The violent birth of European modernity, established as it was atop the dispossession of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans, would prove so devastating that even today some descendants of the latter flee from memory of this terror into the lunacy of denialism.
African/Black people are strongly encouraged to embrace a notion of freedom that centers on the self-interest of the individual, rather than one wherein self-determination and sovereignty are our principal objectives. The former striving is reinforced across the cultural landscape, while the latter is portrayed as an unattainable myth or heresy.
Recently on Twitter (that bastion of civil, intellectual discourse) a user posted that many of us had been duped into believing that we are African descendants due to the machinations of two European intellectuals, Franz Boas and Melville J. Herskovits. This statement was a part of a larger conversation about the idea that African Americans are really indigenous to the Americas. While I am loathe to engage in such non-sensical discussions, I decided to briefly weigh in with a few simple remarks.
Of course one is entitled to their cherished familial narratives, but do note that families make all sorts of dubious genealogical claims. Richard White writes about the the differences between history and memory in his book Remembering Ahanagran. I have found a number of grotesque errors in my own family “history”, errors that defy empirical verification.
Secondly, the idea that enslaved Blacks were African is not an idea that had to wait for Franz Boas (1858) or Melville J. Herskovits (1895) to be born. Many African Americans in the 18th and 19th Century knew of their African origins and took great pride in them. Martin Delany knew of his African origins. So too did Paul Cuffee and Harriet Tubman. For this generation of African Americans, the memory of Africa was fresh and undeniable. Further, they named their institutions after Africa: African Lodge, African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Free Schools, and so forth. Our 18th and 19th Century ancestors were not confused about who they were. Nor was such knowledge derived from “theories” of Western-trained academics.
In fact, narratives like these persist into the present-day and is the subject of books like Wendy Wilson-Fall’s Memories of Madagascar and Slavery in the Black Atlantic which notes how the memory of Madagascar, or more specifically Malagasy ancestry has been retained by African American families. I actually know people for whom such a narrative exists. I also have Malagasy ancestry, but my confirmation came via DNA testing. Kwasi Konadu’s Akan Pioneers: African Histories, Diasporic Experiences explores the cultural legacy of the Akan in this hemisphere. The Igbo Diaspora in the Era of the Slave Trade by Douglas B. Chambers discusses the Igbo in the US and the Caribbean. This is just a short sample, there are other texts that discuss the Kongo and Yorùbá in the Americas.
Lastly, when one considers that the average African descendant in the US has been in here for nine or ten generations, and that this means having 510 or 1,022 genetic ancestors. I find that narratives of being native and not African generally rely on the story of a single ancestor, rather than the hundreds or more to which one owes one ancestry. Genealogical research is arduous and relies on empirical evidence. Not sole narratives, as even these are subject to critique and verification.