Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Neo African-Americans - changing the African-American narrative

I met Kobina Aidoo at some point during my MIT days. At the time, he was a graduate student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Kobina is a man of many interests and as a hobby, he took up making a documentary a few years ago. The result's been 'Neo-African-Americans', a documentary about how rapid immigration from Africa and the Caribbean is transforming the "African American" narrative. I finally got the chance to watch this documentary sometime last week after missing three separate screenings organized at Stanford University.

In the documentary, Kobina interviews different people about their identity. He takes a particular interest in children of African and Carribean immigrants in America as well as immigrants themselves. Most of them seem to have different views on whether they are "African-American" and seem to identify themselves in different ways. Afro-Latino-American. Ghanaian-American. African. True African-American. Haitian-American. Etc. It turns out that most of the people who fall into this category identify themselves differently depending on where they are. In Houston, they are black. In New York, they are Ghanaian. In the UK, they are African-American. In Ghana, they are Ghanaian-American. In China, they are American. It's not easy being in this category. True Ghanaians may claim our friend is not Ghanaian, but American or at best, Ghanaian-American even if the latter wants to identify as Ghanaian.

Some immigrants ensure that their children grow up knowing their culture first before they know the culture in which they live in. As a result, you have a lot of people with Ghanaian names who may have never been to Ghana but are able to speak Twi or watch Ghanaian movies more than the average Ghanaian in Ghana. Obviously, there are cases where some immigrant parents don't see much use if forcing their culture or history into the lives of their children or even when they try, their children are living in places where it's virtually impossible to do so. It's easy to navigate these identities when you compare them to the bi-racial kids and those who have immigrant parents from different countries.

The Neo-African-Americans DVD talks about the economics of how African immigrants are amongst the highest earning groups in America. Apparently, children of immigrant Africans and Carribeans also achieve greater education compared to their Black/African-American counterparts.

Check out the Trailer

Trailer two

I'm just trying to lay some of the conversations down. What do you guys think about these Neo-African-Americans? Find out how you can organize a screening on your campus or get to watch the DVD at the Neo-African-Americans website.
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