Allow yourself to get lost in this vignette for a quick minute: An African girl in her early 20’s is sitting down with her friend, a Black American of the same age. They are both watching music videos on BET, and the particular clip being shown is a hip-hop song by a popular Atlanta rapper. The video director cuts to a neighborhood scene, and a group of young Black kids are doing the new snap dance and shaking their little behinds to the slamming, bass-heavy track. The first words that come out of the Black American’s mouth are: “Awww, isn’t that cute, check out the lil’ girls bouncing to the beat.” The African girl looks over at her friend with a slight scowl and retorts: “If those were my kids, there’s no way they would be dancing like that in a music video – they would be doing something more constructive and useful like studying or reading.”
The above exchange might seem pretty cursory, but in between the lines dwells the inherent difference between Africans born and raised in the Motherland, and most Black Americans. The truth is there is an undeniable gravitas that Africans attach to their work, self-image and day-to-day living that most African Americans simply do not relate to.