My first introduction to the term Creole was when I discovered that Tina Knowles was Beyonce’s mother. In Rwanda the knowledge I had about people of African descent living in the diaspora was limited, to me the only introduction to blacks were the movie stars and artists I saw on TV. Hence, I was a big Beyonce fan, thus I knew almost every detail about her life that was out there. So I knew her father was a dark skin man from Alabama and her mom was of Creole descent (to me she looked white). In my mind Creole became associated with being mixed and looking almost white. Once I came to America and met people from different backgrounds that spoke creole I was intrigued not only were they not mixed some of them were as dark as me. Thus, this past week’s reading broke a lot of the previous misconceptions I had about the term and what it means. Going back to Tina Knowles, a while ago I read an article about how Matthew Knowles her ex husband had first thought she was white and was drawn to her in the beginning for that particular reason. He talked about how growing up it was encouraged to marry someone of a lighter skin complexion, he made points about how Beyonce’s light skin features have put her in much better position compared to her more dark skin counterparts. As a Beyonce fan I could not help but pause and really think about that, and to some degree I agree. There is really not that much representation of dark skin women in the music industry or Hollywood. But what baffled me most was the reaction the article received, a lot of people were in opposition and making statements such as “we are all black we go through the same struggle”. Colorism is real in black and communities of color everywhere in the world and it just sets us back as a people if we are in denial of the struggles that some of us still face on a daily basis.
Over spring break I was asked by a random stranger where I was from, I told him Rwanda and he immediately thought I meant Wakanda. I thought that was funny and then I proceeded to explain to him how Wakanda was fictional and how Rwanda is very much real. But on then I started thinking about the movie and what it means for me as an African and a black person in America. I realized the significance of the movie and how represented different black identities; with Killmonger having grown in the US and the people of Wakanda as Africans who had never left the continent. One of the most powerful moments in the movie was towards the end when Eric utters the words “bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.” This immediately reminded me of the middle passage and what form of resistances Africans were showing even before they got to the New world. Additionally, the fact that Wakanda was never colonized presents the idea of what Africa might have become without colonization. It also challenges the idea that colonial powers did Africans a favor by colonizing them. Furthermore, the move brings together Black people all over the Global because it celebrates African culture and encourages people to learn more about said culture. For example, days after the movie came out posts on social media were trending that explained the origins of some of the attires in the movie. Different African tribes inspired all of the clothes in the movie. As a black person, this movie literally changed my life!
In class this past week we read about the Diaspora, to me it has always been something I have been interested in learning about. Back home in Rwanda when the word diaspora is used it means something totally different, there diaspora means any Rwandan living abroad. Hence, when I thought of the diaspora I usually thought of populations of people who live away from their countries of origin usually this being a choice they made. So one of the things I had to relearn when I got to the US was the meaning of what it means to be an African diaspora in the states. For example. now I know I would never be able to call my aunt who has lived here for 30 years an African diaspora. I must admit that I am still confused on who gets that title in America and who doesn’t. For example, are you among the African diaspora if you are an immigrant from a country in Africa or if your parents immigrated here from Africa. And does that mean in Rwanda when we use the term diaspora is it wrong or is it just a matter of the social context in which it is used.
So when I was 5 my family moved to South Africa, that was the first I had ever seen white people in real life. I remember being amazed by their skin color and hair texture, but then I learnt about apartheid in SA. I mention my time in SA because as I was reading about race politics in the Caribbean I could not help but be amazed at some of the similarities between these two places. White minority in parts of Southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa) and the Caribbean is what first stood out to me as the most striking similarity. Whenever I learn about all these racial inequalities it is hard for me to separate my emotions because I always think to myself that these are my people who have been so unfairly treated. So back to white minority rule, it baffles how foreigners can come take over a people’s land and then end up governing them for centuries. Not only governing them but setting up policies that are meant to strip them of their humanity (SA and Zimbabwe). I find it interesting how this is something that is so common to all the places that white people decided to “settle in”. I remember last semester I was taking an international relations class and one of the presentation in class was on Robert Mugabe the former president of Zimbabwe. He is credited with ending white minority rule in Zimbabwe however he was also a dictator that had been in power for more than 30 years(let’s not go into that). However, my point is that the whole class presentation was on how he was such a horrible president and I sat there thinking well darn is no one going to recognize what this man did for black Africans in Zimbabwe in 1980? My question after the readings on race in parts of the Caribbean that are still under the rule of white elites, who is going to be their Mugabe and will there ever be end to white minority rule in some of these places?