Dark Skin Melanin, courtesy © Essienakan, Piokky & Isaac West

14- What can you do (if you are not Afro-descendant)

Towards a Black Consciousness: First Conclusion

If you do not have (or you think you do not have) Black ancestors but you admire Black people or have an attraction for Black art and cultures, or if you realised that there is a void in your education regarding Négritude, or if you suddenly realised you are surrounded by some awful racist friends and relatives, then you are probably reading the right text and you should consider two issues: first, part of your feelings, consciously or unconsciously is with our culture and second, more important, you are a free man or woman. There are plenty of Afro-descendants in the world (the majority) who would like to get in touch with you and interchange ideas, stories, or a life experience. However, you face a hard task. To learn, assimilate and understand unfamiliar information which even differs what you were taught is not easy; to process that information till the point of being forced to re-visit part of the foundations of your own culture, will be arduous.

For instance, you will probably notice that media has a dry way of showing news, newspaper articles do not put things in context: Blacks tend to appear as victims. This is harmful because it is a reduction of a wider, much larger rainbow of situations and news that occur every day. But media looks for shocking news. It is always more convenient to show a crime than interviewing one of the thousands of graduated Black professionals who got their degrees, from Astrophysics to Ecology, from Engineering to Botany, from Politics to Philosophy. Even more dramatic, perhaps many people you know still have a way of thinking which is not only rudimentary and ugly but hard to sustain, so basic that will be even hard to try a conversation. If that is the case, you will have to spend many years observing, reading, analysing issues, actions and news related to the Black world; you will have to take your time to put them in context. In private, racist people can hardly be recovered; the best we can pretend is a stand-by situation in public spaces and media where they will not interfere with our life; however, they will ruin their children's life still. Indeed, in order to produce a better world democracy, our educational target must be the children: they, each one of them, can change the status quo one day.

Portrait, Cameroun, courtesy © Etoundi Essamba, photographer

We do not want to change the world, we want to show you in which way to re-direct your behaviours, principles and actions, to become a better person; and particularly because if you are White or Asian, it is more likely that your predominant culture, where you grew up, is part of the problem.

We suggest to start exploring African and Black art and literature; we have prepared what we consider an essential list with biographies of Black and African writers, here

Read the next chapter, What Can You Do If You Are Afro-descendant, here.


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