Your Africa is Showing

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Good day Lovelies!!

Having a good week?Today I wanted to touch on a controversial topic that I have been mulling over and have been reading up on in USA and UK based blogs.

"Your Africa is showing" is a statement that is used to address an African American woman who is looking overtly African by leaving their "nappy" hair too nappy or unkempt. This is a derogatory statement!A example of where such a statement could be used is when for example a Black female lawyer in a typically smart law firm goes to work in a suit, briefcase but has her hair in a little afro. Her black colleague would state that "Girl!, your Africa is showing" not as a snide remark but almost as a concern in an environment where she is supposed to fit in with straight hair, pencil skirt and heels.

When I read this for the first time, I gave the statement no thought at all. However now I think about it, it is a huge insult. Going back, African Americans have always struggled with their identity and subsequent discrimination maybe to a bigger extent than Africans. Their way of fitting in to society has always been to hide their "Africanness" whether by wearing weaves, adopting a western culture or even shunning any links to Africa. Upon meeting an African, an African American will probably notice the differences rather than similarities in culture and appearance with the African. Just watch the video below called breaking down the black myth, with interviews done in Harlem, New York with Africans, Mixed Race Americans and African Americans. ( I love the Tanzanian guy who has lived in America for quite a few years judging by his accent)

Your Africa is showing when it comes to hair goes to say that your nappy hair is showing, your unattractive kinky hair is showing. I know this may sound harsh and please correct me via comments if I am wrong. As an African through and through, Kenyan to be exact this implies that we Africans are ugly and not appealing in appearance, that we are not smart enough, that we are backward and a bunch of natives. Africans unfortunately have always been thought of to have big/thick lips, dark skin and hard, unmanageable hair. This to some has been seen as negative traits but to others as beautiful, awe inspiring and positive characteristics. As an African woman, its hard not to think that your hair is not good/straight enough, your skin not brown/light skinned enough, your lips too thick, your ass to big, your nose too wide!

I think that we should use "Your Africa is showing" as a term of endearment, that your proud culture is showing, your beautiful heritage is showing, your humanity is showing! Use this to complement each other to get rid of that image that black Africa is ugly! What do you guys think?

Visit this site to make you feel extremely proud to be African or of African descent

Your Africa is showing!

kimvan said...

true it should really be a term of endearment... one day the continent will get the credit it deserves... I really hope so. Great post.

Simply Meezy said...

"I think that we should use "Your Africa is showing" as a term of endearment, that your proud culture is showing, your beautiful heritage is showing, your humanity is showing!"

I absolutely LOVE this statement! The next time someone tries to condemn my fabulous fro with that remark, instead of getting defensive, I will just simply say "Thank you!"

Nyachomba Kariuki said...

@Kimvan Thank you....I really hope that our continent will get the credit and due attention that she deserves
@Simple Meezy....Own that fro and that statement..Thanks

kinky_lockz said...

GREAT POST. Such statements used in a derogatory manner piss me off!!! There's no excuse for ignorance from ANYONE. Yet SOME people use language to highlight differences between us and divide "the community". Perhaps Pan-Africanism is just a beautiful idea. After all, race to blacks (AA's/Africans/Caribbeans) is more than skin color; we perceive it as heritage, language, ethnic affiliation, birth place etc. What SOME fail to realize is that even with our various histories such comments come across as self-hatred.

Even SOME of us Africans look down upon ourselves and perpetuate stereotypes. In ignorance, we have said or been witness to INDIVIDUALS who praise where they come from with remarks such as: "at least our people go to university", "at least we don't run scams", "we aren't thaaat dark", or "I'm Arab not African but my country is on the continent". Hmmm?! As much as I despise being negatively labelled by other ethnic groups and races, it is SOME fellow Kenyans who have used "mama Africa" in a negative tone and sneer when they see me with my natural hair out... smh!

We ALL need to give more respect, be open-minded, aware and exercise self worth!! Beyond that, I have learnt everyone must choose their own identity. If some would rather shed their African due to 400 years of slavery or 4 years of living abroad then that's up to them. Call it acculturation, assimilation, melting pot, multiculturalism, double culture shock, or "just ME".

Point to this long rambling—Know thyself and forget what others say. As for me, my Africa will be showing from head to toe, nose to lips, ass to… and if you catch me in a lace front I'm still PROUD as a PEACOCK! lol

~you got me in a spirited mood Nyachomba :)

Jc said...

Lovely piece! I definitely agree. Your Africa is Showing is a compliment to me because I am a pretty damn gorgeous African.

However, this is largely a US issue as you said. I think in Kenya we have similar issues with light skin - not mixed race but rather what we call 'brown'. My mother has beautiful dark skin and my dad has beautiful light skin. I ended up coming out a photocopy of my dad. I remember shopping with my mother one time and the shopkeeper could not believe that I was her daughter........because in his words I was 'very beautiful' which in essence meant I was 'light skinned.' However the double implication is that my gorgeous mother was too dark skinned to be pathetic. This was the first of many similar experiences.

I think we as black people need to accept and embrace all facets of our beauty. We need to stop sterotyping ourselves and see that we are corrupting our own minds by deciding that how we are born is not good enough when actually it is!

SweetBonita said...

i agree 100%. I want my Africa to show! I was born in American, but my lineage comes from Africa. And through that lineage, Africa gave me the kink in my hair and brown in my skin. I'm proud of both and wouldn't have it any other way.

Neema said...

I'm getting a t-shirt made and wearing it everywhere!

Nyachomba Kariuki said...

@Kinky_lockz..Love how worked up you are. Its a bit sad that Africans can be so discriminatory to each other...In fact you mentioned something that makes me laugh everytime I hear it..when certain Africans say their Arabs and not "black" like others. Its effing ridiculous but oh so funny as well...because they lack the pride that we Africans have...
@JC I realised that your Africa is showing is mainly a US issue but I think its also an insult to Africans and we should not allow that to happen. As for the whole light skinned dark skinned debate I almost feel like thats a separate post because the issues we Kenyans have on this is MADNESS!!! I also come from a family where my mother is very light and my father was very dark, I came out a mixture of both. I have seen on so many occasions people looking at a light skinned girl and saying she is pretty only because she is light skinned.
As you said Black people just need to accept their beauty in any shade or shape

Anonymous said...

Woah, is that Jc of the Natural Haven? Love your blog, had no idea you were Kenyan -awesome!

Yeah, some African-Americans have special issues in regards to Africa. Some want to forget their ancestors ever came from there, others want to pretend that all their ancestors were Egyptian princesses.

"Your Africa is showing" is definitely internalized self-hate, but I have a bit of pity/understanding for US blacks living as an oppressed minority who have come to hate "African" features.

What I can't understand and have no patience for is Africans who live in Africa, have African mothers, see thousands of other Africans on the street every day, and still ask "What's wrong with your hair?" when they know damn well that's how it grows out of my head and theirs.

Nyachomba Kariuki said...

@furahaproject, I was having a conversation with my friend and we were talking about African Americans and how some of them want to identify with Africa but when they get here they get taken aback by the reality of living in Africa and are so shocked..and head back straight to their countries.

Hating African features from both native Africans living in Africa and US blacks is particularly funny because its basically hating yourself

Anonymous said...

Pandu: i read about this topic before and many times it offended people, especially us africans. thats what i meant by touchy topic. we are made to believe that anything black or african in that manner, not good enough or appealing enough. we, as africans, always have to look at ourselves twice asking questions like, are my hips too big, is my hair too kinky, is my skin too dark, am i not thin enough?? If God wanted you differently, He would have created you differently. It all comes down to truly accepting yourself, the way you were created. I'm just sayin ...

Anonymous said...

Of course it is a derogatory statement, i've lived in the USA for over 10 years and have interacted with many African Americans and majority if not all think Africans are backward, shady people. Africa is still portrayed in the USA media as place of full of war, poverty and disease. Also many African Americans dislike Africans because they claim we sold them off to slavery.

Jc said...

Yep Furaha, it is me - Ndiyo mimi ni Mkenya :)

Nya - definitely looking for more on the light skin issue in Kenya :)

mrsmasawi28 said...

I think I have to comment on the anonymous comment that All African American's have this idea that we do not like Africans or still have issues with slavery. This is an issue among a few that I know but as for me I am not looking at Africans as the problem for why we cannot accept our culture. I think that both African Americans and African need to have intelligent dialogue about why we have having these issues and know that we are the same regardless if we are from the US or not. Why is it that we are the only race that cannot accept who we are, where we came from and accept our beauty regardless if we are dark/light skin, have full lips or not. I think it’s sad that we have this mentality that we do, but we have to understand that this idea came from another culture and now we are trying to change what God gave us. I am American and work in a corporate environment, I've been natural for 3yrs now and yes I have heard this statement among other African Americans who aren't natural, I am proud of my kinky curly hair and do sometimes feel pressure to straighten my hair because others say you look too "ethnic" but I come to realize that if I accept the way I look and my natural beauty everyone else will have no choice but to do the same. So to address what you all believe is the common African American...I do not have an issue with Africans, I am married to one and embrace his culture. I do understand that there are ignorant African American and their ideas of others and where they came from is wrong and they need to open their minds and understand beyond than what they see and know from their neighborhood. But the issue is this we are the same and we need to embrace that regardless of where we were born, we are the same and stop the self-hatred.

Nyachomba Kariuki said...

@Anonymous, Thanks for the comment, I find that hilarious that some African Americans think we sold them. I do not even want to address that because I might go on and on
@JC for sure I am doing that light skinned post definitely from a Kenyan/ African perspective
@MrsMasawi, I agree with your comment..its easy to say that all African Americans think we sold them and of course this in not true and I am sure only speaks for the minority. I have tried to think as to why Africans have these issues and to be honest, its an issue worth researching into but its mainly being put down by colonialists and slave masters for generations! This has eaten into our psyche and is proving very difficult to eradicate. I agree that this self hatred has to end...we need a Black is Beautiful revolution!!

Alice said...

@Nyachomba Re: Anonymous. I think that comes from how AWFUL US school system is. A lot of the stuff you learn until you're about 15 is a straight up lie. And after that you're only going to get truth if you have a good teacher that TEACHES actual historical fact. If you're interested in this, you might want to check out the book "Lies My Teacher Told Me." :)

Back to the original topic-I HATE this term and I'm glad I've never heard it to my face (I can't promise the results would be nice for the speaker either). Seriously, how does LOOKING MY HERITAGE make me look bad? -__-

pHenomenalhairstylist said...

Hello: I just stumbled across your blog. Thank you for this article. I am an African American/Black educated woman from the USA. I have really kinky hair, but if I have to deal with "corporate USA" I must have my hair straight to be accepted. It is politics. If you want to advance in White America then you need to look as much like them as possible. I am okay with this, but I can not stand when another Black woman disrespects other Black women when their "Africa is showing." My God, I have heard "Black so called Divas" describe other Black women as "wooly mammoths." I have heard Black women say "why doesn't she relax that hair so it will at least lay down." I am outraged that my African American sisters are so completely brainwashed that they can not accept God's creation as it is. I am American born, but my esteem has never been based on my hair. I have earned my status by my intelligence; not my ability to always fit in. Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone in my thoughts. There is power when your "Africa is showing!"

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