Alright. I’m Black. It’s the reason why this column/blog is called Black Witch. My ma is Black, my dad is Black (from Jamaica, actually), my nana is Black, grandpappy is Black, we’re a pretty Black family. Even my cat has black spots on her (dark-greyish? Close enough). Grandpops on my dad side was friends with Bob Marley, my grandma on my dad side knew Colin Powell when they were teens. My family on my mom side up to now pretty much took part in history via fighting in wars from WWII to the Korean War and ‘Nam to Afghanistan. I’m born on Thurgood Marshall’s birthday. I’ve gotten a Walking While Black at my college when I was leaving to go home. I’m gonna be at the Afro-Punk festival in a couple weeks, most likely fangirling horribly over Janelle Monae. As far as having a regular, Black experience goes, it’s pretty much there.
Despite all this, for overzealous Afro-centrists – we’ll call them Afriboos* – it’s never good enough. Being Black and Pagan, these folks are on par with fluffy bunnies and increase the more Black folks you have in your area. These folks are beyond the quarterback pushback from the centuries of racism that has been forced on the race and simply are All Black Everything gone all awry. They reject anything remotely White, they believe that Africa has the first human (which is true) and believe that they hence are above and beyond all races. They don’t like how racist White people can get but may feel perfectly free to practice it towards other races (they reject Whites calling them the N-word but calling Asians and Latins their respective slurs? “Eh, they’re cool with it; they never had it like us.”). Usually frothing at the mouth about conspiracies, their favorite being how the Illuminati is funding Jay-Z’s career and Nicki Minaj is possibly a confused woman wishing to be White or a symbol of all that is wrong with Black America. (If you heard the sound of a car crash, that was the logic in the previous sentence.) Or the conspiracy that the White House is trying to kill them, Obama is in on the Kill-All-Negroes plan and Blacks have had it the worst of all races, hands down, no contest. Usually, they know everything there is to know about Egypt and think if the world enforced African culture instead of Western culture, the whole world would clean up its problems from Global Warming to economic meltdown and Black people would be rich and all the problems of Black America would fade away in a flash. Perms are evil and anyone who has one clearly want to be White. Modern medicine is to be distrusted in favor of strictly natural medicine. Their opinions on homosexuality and gender equality sound like a blast from the past, circa White Americans in the 50’s. They preach that woman is the goddess and other fluffy fluff but these folks slut-shame like there is no tomorrow if the woman doesn’t dress like she came from a Kwanzaa card. These guys can be pretty militant (which isn’t always a bad thing but militancy + misinformed = problems very, very fast) and more suspicious and paranoid of Whites than is considered regular for the average Black person.** Oh! And they wanna return to the Motherland as soon as possible.
Afriboos wouldn’t be such a trouble if they admired Africa for all that it is, how unique its 54 nations are and how those nations have provided for the world and feel rightfully outraged on how the continent has been pretty much robbed blind, carved up and still reeling from the effects of colonialism and internalized racism. Nah, like weaboos, Afriboos have a pretty narrow view of Africa fueled by all the Alex Haley, Black Panther Party memories and dime store books they could get their hands on. They have Erykah Badu’s discography memorized and it’s either Islam all day every day because that’s the “First religion of the Black people” or a full scale new-agey overload filled with feather earrings, stone jewelry, Egyptian musk and basing everything on vibrations. And if you’re natural, they come like flies, just like weaboos do to anyone who looks Japanese. Afriboos learned about Africa from either White culture-sanctioned/White washed information (National Geographic, History Channel perhaps some WorldStarHipHop) or poorly written and biased books on the Black condition from misguided Black authors who mean well but mentions poorly. And if it ain’t Black, it’s White.
The thing about Afriboos is that they police Blackness (and Black gender/heteronormativity) harder than anything. If you’re permed, you hate yourself. If you don’t know a single whole Miles Davis song, you’re misguided and don’t know your musical history. May the mercy of the God and Goddess be bestowed upon you if you listen to rock or do anything non-monolithic. Hell, you could be listening to Slash while wearing cyber goggles made by a Black crafter and reading a Black-written fan fic of Static Shock tag-teaming with Spiderman Miles Morales before lighting Deadpool up like a Christmas tree after Storm flung the assassin straight from Wakanda, and still your Black card has disappeared in the eyes of the Afriboos. If you’re gay, these folks are convinced you’ve been around White people for too long because homosexuality is “unnatural”. If you believe in Feminism/Womanism, off they will be preaching about how that’s White people stuff, that Feminism/Womanism is destructive of the “natural order of things” and in magical world of Africa, there are no problems like these except for whatever White folks cook up. If you live in the suburbs, you’re desperately ignoring your roots and don’t want to be Black at all. If you went to college, you drank the White man’s kool-aid even though the Afriboos believe that knowledge is power – but your Black self better not become an academic or scholar, that’s turning your back on the hood. The Blackness they police isn’t really Blackness but a lot of misguided stereotypes, wishful misinformation and frightened thinking.
When they do see a Black person doing something non-monolithic and aren’t frightened of it somehow like a bunny around loud noise, they treat this person like they are either the first Negro to ever do it oooooor go off into their slanted history knowledge and talk about how this Black person totally isn’t the first one to do it and the Afriboo has no idea what all the hubbub is about. An example:
Person: Gabby Douglas got two gold medals in gymnastics! Rockin! She’s really accomplished something!
Afriboos: Really? Ain’t nothing but White girls in there! Black people doing it for themselves! That’s new, ain’t ever seen that before. This gonna scare those White folks, watch them change the rules up now that she’s in. They don’t ever wanna give us a medal in anything, you know that, right? Especially not a gold medal.
Person: Gabby Douglas got two gold medals in gymnastics! Rockin! She’s really accomplished something!
Afriboos: Oh, please, Black people been in the Olympics! Don’t you know about how Jesse Owens made Hitler mad? We’re the first humans, of course we’re in the Olympics! Those Europeans don’t wanna give us our shine! You talkin’ about Gabby Douglas, like she the first Black girl with a gold medal. I mean, it’s something but she got Dominique Dawes to thank. And she probably had to be all around White people to know what she doin right now – why is she with a Chinese? What, she don’t think a Black coach ain’t good enough? And look at her hair, she ain’t natural! She ain’t really doing for us Africans***, who fought and died for her to be where she’s at right now. Hmph, she ain’t no different from Beyonce and her Black-hating self. How about that Usain Bolt boy? Runs like he’s straight from the Motherland. That’s us right there. He’s from Jamaica, you know they respect Africa. They Rasta. He probably Rasta, too.
Yeap. There’s nothing wrong in being proud of being Black or having your lineage trace back to Africa and there is certainly nothing wrong with acknowledging that prejudice is alive and well but it is a problem when there is a lot of misinformation fueling this info to the point it shoots blindly. The Afriboo simply fire their lasers at any and everything, pretty much like weaboos do. To weaboos, Japan is king and anything Japanese is royalty. If the Japanese don’t dominate in something, the game must’ve been rigged or people are just that racist. Weaboos have limited knowledge of the history and culture of Japan but apply it to everything and assume the rest of the world is inferior, just like Afriboos. Instead of it being a single nation, it’s a narrow, generalized knowledge of the history and culture of all of Africa, a whole, entire continent. Reality is, not Africa or the Africana diaspora move in lockstep. The cultures and history that we have is woven from our collective experiences and situations, just like the country of Japan doesn’t move in lockstep, its history and cultures became what it is today from various instances and individuals being what they are. That means there are perks but there are also flaws. Africa isn’t perfect, Japan isn’t perfect.
Then there’s the desire to return to Africa. Yeah, here’s the thing: You can’t return to something you didn’t originate from. Yes, you’re Black, you have African genes in your bloodstream, there’s no denying that. I do too and it’s spiffy. However, no Black person raised in the Western or Eastern world is going to magically assimilate into Africa. You’ll be with your race but culturally, you’ll still be an American, a European, an Asian, a South American, etc etc etc. I could not be randomly dropped off in Africa and expect to get along fine just because I’ll be somewhere where most of the folks look like me. Newp. I couldn’t even be like that in Jamaica and half my whole bloodline is from there. My aunt is from Ghana, I remember her talks of how America and Ghana are different and how being a Black person in the Western world is different from being a Black person in the African world. Those conversations were refreshed in college by my African friends and Caribbean friends every time the subject of Blackness popped up and they felt the sincere need to set the record straight because Blackness in America is not Blackness everywhere you go. And it’s usually with such insight that usually stun Afriboos into silence…or balking that the friends who chimed in must not really be from Africa/the Caribbeans/been around White people too long. Now, there’s nothing wrong with visiting there or wanting to live there, just don’t expect to magically fit in like a missing puzzle piece.
When on the Pagan lean, these guys usually are the ones in the metaphysical shops waxing poetic, sharing psuedo-intellegent quips, expressing their super limited knowledge of Black history and when it comes to the esoteric, oh man. If you show even the slightest interest in the esoteric and are remotely familiar with things like Indigo children and Eastern Star, they latch on quickly. They treat you as if they have found their lost brethren and converse with you as if you both know some grand secret that the rest of the world is sleeping on. They talk to you as if they are going to teach you something and always mention, “I’m learning so much from you,” despite the conversation is usually pretty one-sided and shallower than a teardrop on a hot plate. Most of their “facts” come from biased sources that usually are based in Christian dogma and rhetoric. If you have to quote the Bible to prove an objective fact, there is a problem. And for some odd reason, they have this thing about Jews. I really don’t fully understand it but either they herald Jews as the all-knowing race/ethnicity/religion but kinda are disgusted by them all the same. They believe that any and everything esoteric has made its way through Judaism somewhere at some point in history. The notion is best displayed when they ask, “Ask a Jewish person what year it is,” expressing that the Jews know some great secret or knowledge, hence why everyone has tried to eradicate them from the earth. Anti-Semitism, how does that work?
And let’s not forget the vibrations and earthy stuff. They seem to experience everything in the wavelengths that they feel. Instead of saying, “Oh, I feel like I can trust you,” it’s “I can sense your aura tells me you’re a good person,” or “I’m not getting bad vibrations from you, you probably have good chi,” or, “You’re a Cancer, I know I can trust you with my things.” Good lord. There’s being clairsentient and then there’s being a New Age airhead. Usually when dealing with people who actually are psychic and are fairly well-grounded mentally, they don’t talk about vibrations as if everyone is emitting some sort of shimmer but just say something along the lines of “Oh, I feel like I can trust you.” And it seems Afriboos desire so strongly to be one with the earth short of actually burying themselves in it for good, they’ll wear more stones than you’ll find in a cave, enough cowrie shells to wonder if there is a factory pumping them out and so many ankhs they probably have a bigger collection than the ancient Egyptians all together as they chatter about being Nubian kings and queens. Organic seems to be what they crave and thus think if it came from the earth, it is automatically healthy and good for humans because Mother Nature would never hurt her little children. Ever. At all. Lolz.
Like weaboos, the weird infatuation Afriboos have with sex and sexuality is a bit unsettling. Sex and sexuality is natural and totally part of nature buuuuuut hear an Afriboo tell the story, you would think that sex was this magical, mystical thing that can cure everything from a bad mood to an unsavory personality trait to a cold to cancer itself – het sex only, tho. Bring up the various sexualities in their absolute normalcy such as homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, demisexuality, etc etc and watch the Afriboo turn into a 12 year old as they scan their brain for something to say, either something creeptastic or about how it’s unnatural – maybe a combo of the two. The kicker is that both weaboos and Afriboos usually claim that since they love/have knowledge of a “niche” subject (Japan/Africa), they are thus more open-minded than the average person.
Now, does this mean anyone who likes Africa, natural things, has interest in the continent and the pan-African culture is an Afriboo? Not at all. Just like simply liking Japan and its culture doesn’t make you an instant weaboo or even otaku. What makes you an Afriboo, just like what makes you a weaboo, is thinking that Africa and the race that stemmed from Africa is superior to all. To learn about Africa and the diaspora through poorly designed sites or books and ignore that Africa is not a singular country but a continent with a long history and thus not 100% perfect is intensely problematic. Learn about the history, learn about what makes the culture and what it means to you as a heritage is fine and completely healthy but to act as if you could stunt on both Sistah Soldier and Assata Shakur? Don’t bother. Afriboos, like weaboos, have their heart in the right place but their minds are miles elsewhere. There’s a whole world out there, it ain’t just black and white.
*Afriboos: I’m deriving this from the term “weaboos”, which are overzealous, and usually ignorant, admirers of Japan. Instead, Afriboos are simply over-infatuated/obsessed with the continent Africa instead of a single country and bear much of the same personal qualities as weebs. Another example of derivation: Koreaboos are those who are obsessed with Korea, usually South Korea.
**Apparently, I have White readers. Hiiiiiiiii. If you’re confused about that statement, please do a quick search on racial interactions (political, economical, cultural, societal, social interactions, pick one) between Blacks and Whites in the last 300-700 years. It’s the stuff they base horror movies on. Still confused? Submit something to Ask Black Witch for clarification.
***Afriboos consider anyone Black, regardless where they were born or raised, as an African and anyone who is White, regardless where they were born or raised, as a European. If you’re half Black/half White, you’re an “I don’t know” or occasionally considered a race traitor/tragic mulatto