Whites can be citizens of African countries, just like Africans of European countries . But being a citizen of China does not make you Chinese in conventional speak. Clearly being a Chinese national is non-racial, but being Asian means being a member of the Asian race even if you do not have a Chinese or Vietnamese passport and lived in America for 5 generations. But the word African can mean a country in Africa, or a race of people from Africa. And we not talking about my great granddaddy was from Africa, but the historical people native to Africa. Not Africa with longstanding settlements like Libya and Egypt which make up a small percentage of the African continent.
If everyone is an African, then no one can be an African– Kwesi Prah
The purpose of a definition in sociological terms is to discuss groups with historical, social, mental, physiological, linguistic, cultural, similarities. We have no hope of understanding anything if two polarized groups are collapsed into the same name. Nationality is a extremely poor classification for banding people together when race is far more an active factor in historical and social-economic realities. To conquer a people you conquer their ability to identify as a group being oppressed and articulate their unique reality. To deny their humanity you deny their right to self-determination. Why are we even having this conversation? Because Africans, despite their numbers, have no agency. The identity strong in other groups is foggy where the African is concerned, and the reason for that was because of an African Holocaust. There is no way you could enslave and colonize so many people while leaving their identity in place. And to enslave, colonize means ultimately to destroy the agency of a people.
The primary relationship between Africans and Europeans, independent of time and geography is that of slave and slave master, colonial subject and colonizer, Employee and employer, oppressed and oppressor, respectively. This rule does not have any demographic exception regardless of if we are discussing Brazil, South Africa or Barbados, and regardless of if we are discussing 1811 or 2011. African and European represent the text book poster-boy definition of race history and race relations.
African is a jacket worn by non-Africans to suit an economic or political opportunity. Was anyone rushing to be African when Good Ship Jesus showed up looking for African slaves? When they said “Go and catch some Africans for the plantations of Jamaica.” Was anyone trying to be Black or African when the KKK was running through the South?
Now even Chinese and Indians have been legally classified as “Black people” in the “New South Africa.” Not one of them wore African when African meant being the victims of apartheid or slavery. We see Asians, Arabs, Indians none of them accommodate “White-Indian, White-Chinese, etc” being attached to them. Because Asian means the land and the race. Arab means the land-culture and the race. Racial identity is always tied to geography. If you are in an hotel in Tokyo and tell the receptionist that you are looking for an African person, it is very clear – not only in Tokyo – that you are referring to a Black person. There is no confusion what that African is, so how does this minority position get so much weight attached to it. This points to the White privilege and white power to impress a very minority fringe perspective on a majority people.
The new trend emerging by some Whites and corrupt African politicians is to classify Europeans living/settling in Africa as “White Africans.” All those that deny their claim to African identity are now labeled as racist. Can African people define themselves as white? (especially those who have White name, white culture and white orientation)?
If a cat has kittens in an oven are they biscuits? No they are kittens– Malcolm X
Clearly the argument can be reversed and Africans should be able to identify as being White when the mood hits them. Blackness they will tell you has a different meaning to African – no it doesn’t. It only has the meaning European/Caucasians have assigned to it to accommodate their dominance. So if they are African then some of us are White people. Also any White person who speaks Zulu or Amharic should therefore have the option of calling themselves Zulu or Amharic by that very definition. And if Afrikaans is an “African” language then so to is English and French (by percentage of Africans who use them). Afrikaans is an European language (a Dutch dialect) spoken in Africa, just like Europeans in Africa are not White Africans but White people living in Africa.
“South Africa’s economy is controlled by Africans” – true if we obfuscate the terminology, thus language serves to hide or limit the race issues of Southern Africa. “Blacks in Durban, South Africa have a marked increase in ownership in the last 10 years” – true again if we confuse Indian and African. Good for the Indian, not so good for the African.
The fact that 1% of White Chinese (Europeans in China) might call themselves “Chinese” has zero accommodation in China, why would Africans be so concerned about re-orientating their language (by using Black or Black African) to identify themselves? Especially in a world where Black = Africa is the overwhelming majority.
However, the definition of racism does not accommodate in-group exclusion as a characteristic of being racist. And the power of definition like “who is a Jew”, “who is Chinese” belongs with the majority, not the minority. Africans cannot over night just say they are Chinese and then call Chinese racist if they do not accept them. Now in the case of the Native American indigenous claim we saw how many White people came out of the wood works to claim Native American heritage. When claim chases profit, then claiming identities will not be uncommon.
Despite claiming “African” in name they are very conscious of Whiteness when propagating the White dominant image on the broadcast mediums they control. Being White is clearly obvious when it comes to the dilemma of ownership which is still tipped in their favor. When all of these White South Africans rush home to Europe (when Africa gets a little sticky) do they encounter job discrimination experienced by fellow African South Africans or even 3rd and 4th generation African-British? They integrate smoothly into the social environment created by White privilege. Seems like with the Indian “Africans”, African is a jacket worn to suit an economic or political opportunity. Lets ask a question. An African man takes an Indian woman back to his village for marriage- how will she be treated? An Indian woman takes an African man back to her community for marriage how will he be treated. This highlights a fundamental difference between Africans and everyone else. A Characteristic exploited by every visitor to Africa.
So this argument or false focus serves to disrupt the greater Pan-African solidarity necessary for African people. And anyone trying to put a taboo on such debates is probably an oppressor. Now the classic straw man argument is to associate this stance with expelling Whites from Africa. The human rights of the African cannot be secured while violating the human rights of another people. We do not need a new Israel in Africa. However, gross inequalities must be destroyed. What business does someone have with 1000 of acres of land while the native people starve all around them? Especially when that land was acquired by displacing the ancestors of that land. All of these issues need to be collapsed into the broader debate of identity and native claim.
In the scramble for linguistic real estate, why would these descendants of European colonialist who devastated and exploited the continent want to be called African? And in terms of self-determination who introduced these concepts? It would be very strange if a European, after 200 years in China or India, could be so powerful to alter the definition of Chinese just to be accommodated. Linguistic accommodation is only possible in Africa because of the prevailing injustice of a post-colonial dominance of European settlers.
Race was not only defined in the 18th century, in Axum and Kemet African peoples have always identified with degrees of racial inclusion and exclusion. The arrogance of Whiteness is to assume they are responsible for every single point of view that has ever existed on this planet. All the while South Africa remains White dominant and unchallenged by people who are the most vocal White Africans. Interestingly if you examine their lifestyle, you will find them to be the most racial conservative personalities. They date and marry women of their specific race, they socialize in White circles, they engage a distinctive non-African culture. The injustices of White dominance and the legacy of that dominance are smoothed over by fictional fantasies of non-returning colonial tourist who still impose their reality as the norm for everyone else. Moreover, in dealing with these issues they always select broad base arguments and never deal with the core issue of African self-determination and agency.
The fact that Europeans are sensitive to the politics of things suggests that they do not do anything for romantic reasons. It is very disappointing when senior African academics, so desperate to embrace the rainbow theory and share the “African burden”, rush with open arms to embrace these pseudo concepts without any political or economic consideration. What is the objective of these claims? It is interesting to note Europeans (including Caucasoid Arabs) constitute around 10 million people verses the 800 million Africans. Now, this negligible minority, by way of social influence, has caused the majority to need to refer to themselves with the adjective of “black” to separate themselves from a serious minority group who want to be “Indian Africans” or “white Africans.” Minorities of Europeans live in China, in India and in Arabia yet only in Africa has linguistic accommodation been given to these European minorities. Africans now must make room for those settlers who want to identify with the continent for capitalist reasons. Because once you identify with a continent then you have a legitimate claim to its resources. Thus, the saying and the philosophy of Garvey “Africa for the Africans” becomes usurped. In South Africa, the new trend of “Black Economic Empowerment” has seen the broadening, opening up of the borders of blackness so to speak. Indians are economically classified as ‘black’, and recently Chinese have been included in this definition. So again, we see the relationship between linguistics and economic profit.
What about people who are European who speak African languages, wear African clothing, eat African food, etc? With all due respect, the mistake made by Dr. Ali Mazrui in his accommodation was to confuse the empirical reality of being African with the cultural phenomenon of being Africanized. Just as most Africans in the west are to a large degree Europeanized Africans, it does not make them in anyway shape or form European.