Khadijah Forrest, The Black Bear – “Ghetto,” “thugs,” “violent,” “less educated,” “disrespectful,” and “rude” are only some of the stereotypes towards Black Americans mentioned at the discussion “Bridging The Gap” on Wednesday, led by the African Student Association at Missouri State University.
One of many Black History Month events on campus, the “Bridging the Gap” discussion explored the divide between Africans and Black Americans.
Topics discussed were stereotypes made by Africans towards Black Americans and stereotypes made by Black Americans towards Africans.
Kelechi Ezeuka, social media chair of ASA and coordinator of the event, said, “I think we did well discussing the differences but we also discussed similarities and things we valued about the different cultures.”
The mission of the event was to discuss the gap between all Africans and all Black Americans not just African-Americans.
“Not every Black person in that room is directly connected to Africa,” Ezeuka explained. “I think Black American is an umbrella term that applies to all.”
Throughout the discussion, the group steered toward how the media portrays Africans and Black Americans and how their stereotypes are controlled by the media.
One student in the audience responded by saying , “America does not want African-Americans to know about their roots.”
Africans in the media are portrayed as homeless victims of hunger. Members of ASA who were born in various of Africa describes their land as beautiful with many cities and food.
Another audience member pointed out that many Black Americans describe Africa as one big city, rather than a continent.
One of the ASA members asked “Why is the only place in Africa that African-Americans are drawn to is Egypt?”
According to another ASA member, they’re drawn to Egypt because it’s known for kings, queens, and wealth. Also when people go to research African history, images of Egypt are easily accessible.
Further into the discussion the audience learned words that some Africans use to describe African-Americans.
“Abeed” means slaves in Arabic, “Baria” is slaves in Amharic or Ethiopian, “Adoon and “Jareer” also mean slaves in Somali. In addition of being called slaves, the most offensive word to African-Americans is “Akata” which means wild animal in Yoruba.
ASA members explained that the origin of “Akata” came from African elders that thought of African-Americans as cats that were strayed away from Africa. Because they strayed away from Africa, they became wild animals.
During the wrap up of the discussion, ASA members shared the similarities of Africans and Black Americans and how many Black American traditions come from Africa.
“Blackness is a commonality,” Ezeuka said. “Once you emigrate to the United States you adopt all the struggles of a Black American. White people don’t care that your culture is different. All they see is Black skin.”