Culture Life

The divide within the African diaspora won’t get us anywhere

When I was in elementary school,  another Black student told me that she and her family were simply ‘African’ and not ‘African American’ because her ancestors had never been enslaved. If you thought I, a fellow Black woman, was confused at that moment, imagine how puzzled our predominantly white classmates, who had already mentally grouped this Black girl and me as the same person, were.

I initially failed to understand what this student meant by her separation between recent African immigrants and North American Black descendants of the enslaved. But as I learned more about our history, over time, I began to comprehend what she meant. Throughout my life, this discourse would come up again and again.

Although we look the same in everyone else’s eyes, there’s still an “otherness” in our history and culture that, oftentimes, separates us.

I’ve been told by recent African immigrants that because I am a descendant of slavery, my ancestors and I are weak, whereas Africans are stronger because they had the choice to come to this country. I’ve heard Black slave descendants use coded language when referring to Africans, saying things that allude to them being “unkempt” and “savage”. I’ve seen them question recent immigrants’ intelligence, talk down to them, or insult their beauty.

I’ve felt this divide within our community and I’ve seen it with my own eyes.


But recently, the world has experienced a global reckoning that criticizes the ways in which we approach race, culture, and ethnicity. Since the inhumane death of George Floyd on Memorial Day of this year, industries across all boards have had their historic dirty laundry with racism, colorism, and sexism aired out for the world to see as the public has assertively held them more accountable than ever.

With this, I’ve taken the time to truly question my nationality within this country, and have further understood the power of unity within the African diaspora through identification.

First, it’s important to understand where the ill-feelings between us comes from. The tension and animosity between Africans and descendants of the enslaved in North America are traced back to both group’s individual experiences with migration, slavery, and colonialism. 


The Atlantic slave trade stripped enslaved Africans of our culture and left us to recreate a completely new one, which many present-day Black Americans identify with. And whether we understand it or not, American Black culture today has strong and direct influences from slavery that those who were never enslaved in America may not be familiar with.

African empires and kingdoms have had their own relationships with slavery but with completely different meanings. Writers Daivi Rodima-Taylor and Zadi Zokou describe it as “local socio-cultural patterns of clientage and adoptive kinship rather than a large-scale commercial enterprise.”

Africa, which is the second-largest and oldest continent in the world, has many different unique cultures within it too. Like anywhere, Africa’s complicated history has similarly been processed into a unique modern-day culture that African Americans just may not understand.

Our cultural differences are at the forefront when associating with each other. On both ends, there’s an attitude of othering and criticizing.

And despite completing an ancestry test that told me exactly where in Africa my ancestors are from, I still am confused culturally as to where and who I should identify with. It feels like a bridge that will never be crossed and something that slavery has taken from me forever.

If I’ve learned anything from the recent reignition of civil rights discussion though, it’s that the diaspora’s otherness won’t make us any better as we exist in this country together. When looking at each other internally, we may notice our differences, but to anyone else, we are simply Black.

It isn’t the slave descendants’ fault that they were forced to assimilate. But it also shouldn’t be pushed upon recent African immigrants to assimilate if they do not choose to. There is no blame to be given to those of us that are non-consensual foreigners to this land. We shouldn’t side-eye each other because we are unfamiliar with each other’s culture.

There’s no easy solution and even I don’t have the answers to this age-old discourse in the slightest. But in this introspective time for the world, I’ve rethought my identity and nationality.

For myself, as an American descendant of the enslaved, I hope to only be referred to as Black. I’ve made this decision because of the danger and separation that I think the identification of ‘African American’ holds within our community.

When we separate African Americans from African immigrants, we, in a way, recognize slavery as the qualification to be a *true* Black American. But slavery is not the sole definition of what makes me who I am. It creates a false qualification that is unattainable for African immigrants. ‘African American’ also does not include the entirety of the diaspora. I think of the term as a way to further push this “otherness” narrative and it can separate us from the diversity within our community, rather than embracing it.

So no, the other classmate in my elementary school may not have identified herself as African American, but now I don’t either. I’m Black (with a capital ‘B’) whose ancestors came from Africa. Slavery may have reinterpreted my culture, but it does not define the legitimacy of myself as a Black woman in America.

Get The Tempest in your inbox. Read more exclusives like this in our weekly newsletter!

Editor's Picks Hair Beauty Lookbook

Every time I visit the salon, the West African braiders weave my culture into my hair

I used to hate getting my hair braided.

Sitting for hours in an uncomfortable chair was not my idea of a good time, although I can’t imagine spending long periods of time in one place is considered ‘fun’ for any active child. Regardless, though, those hours could have been a lot worse.

The reason it wasn’t because of the firm-handed Senegalese hair braiders who worked steadily on my hair, and for whom I have so much respect. Through them, I learned about experimenting with and caring for my hair, something that’s become extremely popular with the natural hair movement.

Pretty much every single hair braiding salon looks the same. The walls are bare, save for posters featuring women with increasingly elaborate hairstyles. These aren’t necessarily options per se, but examples of the skill that the braiders in the shop possess.

I used to hate getting my hair braided.

The set-up is pretty much the same, from the hair braiding mecca that is Harlem, New York City, all the way to the Carolinas. Across America, women primarily from Senegal, Togo, and the Gambia have used hair braiding to create a better life for themselves.

In recent years, however, things have changed.

The demographic shifts in neighborhoods, rising rent, and licensing practices all threaten to cripple the once-thriving community of hair braiders. In Washington, the Department of Licensing has begun to put hair braiders under scrutiny.  For many years, hair braiders were under the impression that a business license was the only thing they needed. About four years ago, that started to change. Now, they need cosmetology licenses in addition to a business license.

These hair braiding regulations tend to specifically target minority women. The Institute of Justice has sued on behalf of hair braiders in ten different states between 1991 and 2018.

Demographic changes, rising rent, and licensing practices all threaten to cripple the once-thriving community.

In order to get a cosmetology license, a person must complete 1,600 hours of education. In general, cosmetology courses cover everything from manicures to waxing. They do not, however, always cover hair braiding.

Additionally, many hair braiders are women with children. Going to college to study a course that they feel doesn’t benefit them eats away at the free time they do not have.

Some hair braiders are also undocumented.

With gentrification and rising scrutiny from government officials, the likelihood of some of these women going underground increases, which also affects their ability to earn an income safely. With their financial independence in jeopardy, they can become cut off from their network of socialization.

I find the increasing marginalization of hair braiders an important topic to speak out about for more sentimental reasons as well. For a period of my childhood, Senegalese, Ivorian and Gambian American hair braiders were my bridge between cultures. These hairstylists were able to combine West African hairstyles with trends happening within African American culture at the time.

My hair became a physical manifestation of both the worlds I inhabited. With a major shift in the way black women present their hair in the past decade, the role hair braiders play cannot be overstated.

My hair became a physical manifestation of both the worlds I inhabited.

Braiding hair is a source of income for Black women of all nationalities and creeds. It is also a connection to the past, a way to get to know one another.

Before I started going to braiding salons as a child, I didn’t know anything about other West Africans.

But while a Senegalese American woman burned the tips of my braids to close them, I learned about her family, where she came from, a little bit of her personality – all because I spent a few hours in her chair. I would leave the salon with my sisters, hair swinging slightly, with renewed confidence.

This is an experience every little Black girl should have.

Black hair, like Black fashion, can be a political statement. Hair braiding salons are a testament to that fact. These salons are mini-communities in and of themselves, with a long history of social, economic and cultural importance.

The proverbial house that these women have built should be preserved and respected, always.

Sign up for The Tempest newsletter. Once a week, we’ll send you exclusive stories and scoops exploring who we are, what we do, and why it all matters.

Gender & Identity Life

I don’t stop celebrating Black History after just 28 days. It’s not a month to me – it’s my life.

For stories of Black history and excellence, check out our Black History Month series. Celebrate with us by sharing your favorite articles on social media and uplifting the stories, life, and work of Black people.

What comes to mind when you think about Black History Month? 

The Civil Rights Movement, famous African Americans like Martin Luther King, maybe a documentary that your history teacher would show the class. Black History Month is meant to be a celebration of Black achievement, but as a Black woman, I’ve always felt like the month is just skimmed over with the bare minimum covered. 

Any mention of it comes across as more of an obligation than a celebration. For some, it may seem like a redundant, yearly history lesson, but trust that it is much needed; especially now.

Here’s a little history lesson about Black History Month: In 1926, the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History along with historian Carter G. Woodson announced that the second week of February would “Negro History Week.” That specific week was chosen because the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass are during that week; days that had been celebrated by the Black community since the nineteenth century. The week focused on emphasizing the teaching of Black history in schools. 

In 1976, Gerald Ford became the first president to recognize Black History Month and encouraged all Americans to do so as well.

I view Black History Month as a family reunion of sorts: all African Americans getting together to celebrate and honor our culture in all aspects and paying tribute to those who paved the way before us so that we could have the rights and freedoms that we have today. The media even takes note of how important and significant the month is. For one month out of the year, our music, our art, our lives, and our history are placed front and center. 

Then it’s over.

The first day of March always feels like closing the door after the last guests at your party leave. 

It was an awesome party and everyone had a great time, but now it’s over and the only thing you have to show for it is a long Instagram story. But that’s how it goes: once those 28 (or 29, depending on whether or not it’s a leap year) days are over, the contributions and successes of my race go back into the closet until next year’s shindig.

Our country has strayed away from the original mission of Black History Month, to teach Black history

A sad fact is that throughout my time in school, whenever African Americans were mentioned, we were either slaves or fighting for Civil Rights. 

Poignant times in history indeed, but there’s so much more. 

What about African American men’s contributions to both World Wars and Vietnam? What about African American women being ostracized from the first wave of the feminist movement? And as important as the Civil Rights Movement was, how come we only talk about Dr. King and Rosa Parks? For too long we’ve gotten away with doing the bare minimum when it comes to teaching Black History, and we have got to get better.

I remember a white classmate asking me how I celebrate Black History Month in high school. I told them that my family didn’t do anything. However, if I had the chance to go back and clarify my answer, I would add that I don’t restrict the celebration of my culture to the shortest month of the year. 

I embody it throughout the other 11 months as well.

With social media and the skyrocketing popularity of Black culture, other African Americans embody it year-round as well. There’s #blacktwitter where there’s a new meme, trend, or success story going viral. Tumblr has Blackout, where African Americans post selfies and photos of them in all their melanin glory. But most importantly, there’s a greater sense of community. 

The family reunion is in full swing, burgers on the grill, adults laughing, children playing; the sun illuminating our skin in all our hues of brown.

Race Inequality

Your newfound ancestry is not your golden ticket into communities of color

Whether it’s, MyHeritage DNA or 23andMe, taking ancestry determination tests have grown more and more popular each year. It’s a fascinating and exciting way to learn where one comes from and a way to gain a better understanding of who one is. These tests also have a lot of health benefits as medical technology advances, allowing us to predict possible genetic diseases and other health related issues. Often, commercials for these kits show people discovering unique facts about themselves like being related to George Washington or that they’re 5% Native American, which motivates them to get more educated and connected with the parts of them that they didn’t know they had. In an increasingly divisive society, these tests are aiding in bringing people back together and reminding them that we’re all connected.

There’s nothing wrong with that. I think our world needs to keep focusing on these connections instead of the ongoing discrimination that perpetuates the oppression of millions of groups of people.

My issue is when white people use their results to victimize themselves and to gain “access” into marginalized communities.

I don’t know how many times I’ve had to listen to a white person tell me that they found out they’re 5% sub-Saharan African like this is somehow exciting news to me. This fact does not make us kinfolk and we do not  share the same struggles. All this does is remind me of the dark history of our pasts that have converged and led us to now share an adjacent gene pool.

The problem is, you can find out you’re related to George Washington, but I can’t even find out who my great great grandfather was because he was simply seen as property.

This is something you will never have to experience or understand. The health benefits that come from tests like these still don’t even benefit black people because the lack of records from the slave era as well as a huge health disparity attributed to late and continued research in fully understanding African American DNA.  This is why finding out that you have a tiny percentage of my race will never give you entrance into my community. White people already try to do this constantly through cultural appropriation so sharing a small percentage of DNA should not further justify this behavior. It’s not enough to want to embrace the fun and “worthy” aspects of my identity, you have to take the struggle and pain that comes with it too. 

But you can’t adopt the trials marginalized communities go through.

What white people who do this fail to realize is the reason they have such a diverse non-European heritage is because of colonization. A majority of European history consists of the invasion and conquering of different continents where powers took land, murdered families and raped women.

So when looking at your new found ancestry, consider the fact that all those tiny percentages that just seem fascinating to you, hold a darker history of pain for the people of color whose communities you are now once again trying to push into. Instead of flaunting this fact you should get educated about these communities and become an ally to them. Work to help end the oppressive institutions that are holding people of color back. That is how you can honor your ancestors and do them justice in a world that is while not physically taking advantage of them, still profiting off of their pain.

And that’s something won’t tell you.

USA World News Politics The World

Media outlets who label domestic terrorists as “lone wolves” are hypocritical – and you know why

On October 2nd, 2017, millions woke to learn that a gunman named Stephen Paddock had opened fire on the crowd at the Route 91 Music Festival the previous night, killing more than 50 concertgoers and injuring over 500 more. 

The massacre has been declared as the largest mass shooting in United States history.

Paddock was found dead by police in his hotel room, where he had stockpiled 10 more rifles.  Reports indicate that he had killed himself before the police entered the room.

The media to no one’s surprise has dubbed him a “lone wolf,” a “crazed lunatic,” and a “psychopath.” Reporters also find it necessary to inform the public that Paddock was a 64-year-old man who lived in a retirement community and had no prior criminal record. But news cycles aren’t calling him exactly what he is: a terrorist. Why not?  

Because he’s yet another white, American mass shooter.

American citizens have been taught by misinformed media outlets and damning political rhetoric to think of “terrorism” as an act that that only brown or black people from the Middle East, Africa, or Asia can commit.  When foreigners or people of color commit crimes that result in mass casualty, the media jumps quickly to brand them as terrorists and works diligently to try and link them to terrorist groups. But this simply isn’t the case with our white, male shooters who are responsible for approximately 64% of America’s deadliest mass shootings.

You saw it when Dylann Roof killed nine African-Americans in a church shooting and was solely categorized mentally ill.

Or when Craig Hicks killed 3 Muslim college grads in Chapel Hill but was chalked up as just another “isolated incident” with no mention of terrorism.

But the Manchester bomber, Salman Abedi, who was responsible for the attack at Ariana Grande’s UK concert in May 2017, was immediately picked apart by the press and investigated for potential ties to ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and various other foreign terror groups.

Do you see a pattern that the media seems to willfully ignore here?

White men are not truly held accountable in the ways people of color are, but the existence of white privilege has always been a testament to that. What is perpetually astonishing, the extent that white privilege protects domestic terrorists, like Paddock, who spread fear and carnage from being labeled as such. 

Instead, we’re pandered to by being told that the criminal couldn’t have possibly committed such an atrocious act because the individual went to church or had good attendance in high or saved a cat once. This was just the case with Paddock, whose family members are reportedly stunned and “can’t believe” he would have ever orchestrated this type of horror.

So to summarize, media utilizes white privilege to paint white terrorists as mentally ill or as ideal citizens up until the day they “snap.”

Simultaneously, white privilege demonizes people of color and encourages the media, law enforcement agencies, and the general population to explore every thread of the suspect’s history to try and find some link to foreign terrorism without looking at the more pressing issue: lack of gun regulation and reform.

Media reports didn’t even show pictures of Stephen Paddock until later in the day; choosing first to air photos of his partner, a woman of color named Marilou Danley.  It was her face that millions saw on social media first, though she has since been dismissed as a person of interest.

This overt racial profiling by the media has been a trend since 9/11 and has perpetuated generalized and discriminatory stereotypes and sentiments against people from various religious groups, ethnicity, and races all while keeping the white man safe from bigotry.

But enough is enough.

So, if a white person tells you to avoid politicizing this tragedy then ask them how many more people have to die for those in political power to issue change? If they tell you to refrain from bringing up race, ask them if they’ve ever had to defend their whiteness or their Christian faith to their neighbors, colleagues, strangers, and country after a terrorist attack takes place. Ask them if they have to change the way they dress or only speak a certain language in public to avoid harassment because of media-based stereotypes.

Ask them if they’ve ever received death threats or racial slurs for something they didn’t do.

Stephen Paddock is not a “lone wolf.”

He is not an innocent, retired man whose mind suddenly took a turn for the worst.

He is despicable, he is American and he is a domestic terrorist who took over fifty lives.

Race The World Inequality

10 incredible political powerhouses breaking barriers and making America better

Are you upset with the orange man in office?  Are you disappointed with the orders his tiny hands are signing?  Me too!  Let’s perk up and check out some inspiring women in politics who are completely badass.

Remember, people, that we are not doomed.  Check out all the wildly fabulous shit these women have accomplished and are continuing to accomplish and know that you are awesome.  The US doesn’t have to stay the way it is right now, and there are women actively trying to right the wrongs.

1. Senator Mazie Hirono 

Image result for mazie hirono

This woman is incredible.  She was born in Japan and immigrated to the United States.  She currently serves as a senator for Hawaii. But what is so impressive about Senator Hirono is that she was the Democratic Party’s first female nominee for governor in Hawaii.  She lost, but she is still thankful for the chance to represent women in a powerful office. Hirono credits her success to her mother and her strength to her routes growing up as an immigrant in the United States.

Now, as a senator, she is the first AsianAmerican woman senator and the first woman senator for Hawaii.  Hirono came from the bottom and is literally on top now.

2. Congresswoman Barbara Lee

Image result for barbara lee

Congresswoman Lee is currently in the House for California’s 13th District.  She was a senator previously. This Congresswoman is badass because she is a single mother with two sons and fights to help out Americans.  She was born in a segregated Texas, and focuses on fighting hate crimes. Lee wants to end poverty and fight for LGBT rights.

She is also the first to write and pass the first law in California specifically for women, called the “California Against Women Act.”

3. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman

Image result for bonnie watson coleman

Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman is serving New Jersey’s 12th District in the House.  Coleman serves as the first African American woman to serve New Jersey in the House.

Coleman also served as the first AfricanAmerican woman to be a Majority Leader of the New Jersey General Assembly – and was the first African American woman to serve as the Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

4. Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence 

Image result for Brenda Lawrence

Congresswoman Lawrence currently serves as the representative for the 13th district in Michigan.  Before that, she was the first African American and first woman to serve as the mayor of Southfield, a town within her current district.

Oh, and while she was mayor, she finished her degree from Central Michigan University.  Now, she is the Senior Whip and Vice Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.

5. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson 

Image result for Frederica Wilson

Congresswoman Wilson currently serves as the Representative for Florida’s 24th District.  She is an elementary-school-principal-turned-lawmaker.  She is well known for creating the “5000 Role Models of Excellence Project.”  This is a project that works to help students attend college through scholarships.  Called the Voice for the Voiceless, Wilson’s so awesome that she had a cameo on the “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”

Oh, she also has an incredible fashion sense.

6. Congresswoman Gwen Moore

Image result for Gwen Moore

Congresswoman Gwen Moore serves the 4th Congressional District of Wisconsin.  This incredible woman is fabulous for us – like, really fabulous.

She was the first African-American to represent Wisconsin in Congress.  Then she was the Whip for the Congressional Black Caucus and LGBT Equality Caucus.  She is badass with her work for women’s rights.  Moore fights for women’s health, reproductive freedom, and protections against domestic abuse.

7. Congresswoman Linda Sánchez

Image result for linda sanchez

Congresswoman Sánchez currently serves the 38th Congressional District of California. Sánchez is the Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, which makes her the first Latina ever to hold a leadership position in Congress.

She is also well-known for her work on the Committee on Ways and Means, which means that she helps decide taxes and protects Social Security and Medicare. Sánchez is an avid protector of senior citizens’ rights, which is needed now, more than ever before.

8. Congresswoman Karen Bass

Image result

Congresswoman Karen Bass serves the 37th Congressional District of California.

Before Bass entered Congress, she was the first African American woman in the United States to serve this prestigious role in state government. Congresswoman Bass is focused on improving inner cities, as well as improving relations between Africa and the United States.

9. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez

Image result for Nydia Velazquez

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez serves the 7th District of New York in the House. Velazquez is incredible because she was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the House – then she was chosen as the Ranking Democratic Member for the House Small Business Committee. The development made her the first Latina woman to serve in that role for any House committee.

Velazquez was then made the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Latina to chair a committee.  She’s kicking ass, taking names and entering leadership roles that are important for our country.

10. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

Image result for pramila jayapal

Last but not least, Congresswoman Jayapal currently serves the 7th Congressional District of Washington.  She is the first Indian American in the House ever. And she is the first South Asian American to be elected to State Legislature!

Jayapal was born in India and immigrated to the United States at 16 for college.

Don’t lose hope.  There are still people in power who are kicking ass for the women of the United States.

Tech Now + Beyond

So, is the internet actually racist – or is that just your imagination?

Let’s start with a demonstration: try opening another browser tab right now and google-image the words, “man,” “woman,” or “woman on a bike”, “man in office”  for added context.

Notice how stupefyingly white the results are? 

More interestingly, if you type “black woman on a bike”  you will get strictly African women, but if you type “white woman on a bike”, the search engine will produce a mixture of white bikes with white women on them, black and white photos of women and bikes, or white women with white clothing articles. African, Asian and  Middle Eastern people come up sporadically towards the end of your scroll page. However, in the pursuit of more diverse findings, you’ll have to type in the exact words referring to the ethnicity you are looking for because it seems that the internet’s default for “man” or “woman” is still white.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to prove that the internet’s bias towards white people reflects the collective perception of a “typical” man or woman. Unfortunately, the idea persists that white people are race-neutral and that an anonymous person is automatically considered white until clearly stated otherwise. It further stipulates that white people never have their whiteness attributed to them but any other person of color will be primarily described by their race; their most salient feature. 

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 2.50.30 PM

Then why is this situation transferred to the internet: a free and global portal? You might think that the reason is that the internet is primarily a creation of the White Man, and therefore reserves Him the right to create it in His image. Well, yes and no.

This apparent neutralization of whiteness on the internet has to do with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and marketing. A few stock photo websites tend to produce more diverse findings. For instance, Flickr will provide more diverse findings for “woman” when compared to Google. Shutterstock also will render assorted photos of “woman”  as well as Istockphoto, and Free images. Search engines, on the other hand, don’t function in the same way, because they don’t scan pictures on websites. They search by language input and analyze the textual context of an image, thereby determining whether or not this image fits in with your search results. In other words, to sort out images and categorize them from the internet, Google picks up its clues from the text of the webpage surrounding the image, the content of the alt HTML parameter associated with the image, and, most importantly, the caption of the image.

That said, the responsibility of providing visual material for the internet lies in the hands of photographers and advertising/media outlets. As such, it’s easy to point fingers at them for not producing enough “diverse” material. However, their insensitivity to race doesn’t necessarily mean that they have something against people of color. Naturally, they function on the principle of supply and demand; the highest demand on the internet is made by people residing in countries in which Internet penetration and usage are the highest.

According to the World Bank in a 2014 report, internet penetration across the world is highest in the US, UK, and Australia, whose populations are mostly Caucasian. That means that the aforementioned parties are creating visual and textual content that cater to that specific demographic, most of which is white.

Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 2.55.15 PM

The solution for a more diversified internet, both visually and textually, is that diverse people start contributing more content that unifies the human experience and spreads it among races in a colorless form. For example, if an article keeps repeating the word Asian accompanied by a picture of an Asian person, the problem will not be tackled. That’s because people will see the picture only when typing in the word “Asian” in an image search engine. But, if the image is used in a neutral online article about New Zealand, that would increase the circulation of the image. As such the image won’t be bound to the singular label of “Asian.”

So, if this means anything, it’s that the internet still has a long way to go in terms of diversification. It’s not enough that the media keeps forcing people of color into every work of art or story (because it’s usually done for the sole purpose of proving a point: that white people are “inclusive”). A picture speaks a thousand words, and on Google, we have thousands of pictures confirming the same thing: that whiteness is the norm.

If the diversification of images and content on the internet is done in a way that doesn’t prioritize someone over the other, I have no doubt that this will help minimize the white-washing of the internet. The internet is the virtual image of our world, and all of our values are reflected in it. The internet in all its diversity of topics and stories and information doesn’t feel white, so it most definitely shouldn’t look white.

Because there’s a reason why it is called the World Wide Web, not the World White Web.

Race Inequality

Stay mad, Abby, I refuse to be underestimated

The last time a white person called me articulate was three days ago. Her smile was beaming as she complimented me for delivering an impromptu speech on oppression without resorting to ebonics once. She looked so impressed with me. As I stood in the middle of my college campus. At an Ivy League institution. I thought that we black students were done having to prove ourselves worthy of the positions that we earn and yet, here we are in 2015, debating the use of affirmative action and the power of black intelligence.

Black intelligence has been underestimated from the beginning of time. To quote the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, in 1781, “the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”  If that quote is a little too dated, perhaps a quote from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from the year 2015 would be a bit more convincing of the fact that America underestimates and undervalues its black students. Justice Scalia apparently believes that black people, referred to as the “blacks,” belong in “a slower-track school where they do well.”

Let me assure you, Justice Scalia, I am doing just fine at Penn. No need to worry about me. Instead, worry about why Abigail Fisher, a white woman who has spent seven years of her life envying the examples of  #BlackExcellence that have been accepted into and excelled in institutions of higher learning, is still stressing over the fact that she got rejected from UT Austin. Worry about her recovery from the beautiful #StayMadAbby trend that black college graduates have used to refute the negative stereotypes that Fisher and Justice Scalia share. Worry about the achievement gap that Americans are facing due to an improper distribution of resources and the extremely low numbers of black enrollment in America’s most elite universities. We black intellectuals can wait.

As a public service announcement to all of those who try to undermine black success by ascribing all of our achievements to affirmative action, it’s not us, it’s you. We are not the reason that you did not get accepted. I had to laugh at the fact that when I got accepted into Penn, people immediately assumed that I got my spot by being an African-American woman. This school is 45% white and 7% black. I highly doubt that I took a white person’s spot, judging by the amount of white people who are here. I realize that that may be a tough pill to swallow, but blaming black students, who worked hard to get to where they are, for your personal underachievements is not fair. (I’m talking to you, Ms. Fisher.) Also, I should not have to reiterate the fact that affirmative action has done most for white women, historically. What affirmative action has done for black students is minimized the effects of the achievement gap that would statistically place them at a disadvantage. These black students are still required to work their behinds off to be considered competitive applicants. Once they are accepted into schools, they still have to face the challenges that lead to disappointing black graduation rates. Black intellectuals do not receive anything easily, so why should Abigail Fisher?

The bottom line is that black intellectuals are not to blame for white mediocrity. Our time is better spent studying than explaining ourselves to people who are afraid of our success. We are not required to qualify our achievements and it is unfair for others to force us to.  I find it especially troubling that a Supreme Court Justice feels comfortable enough to voice his subscription to the ancient idea that black people are inherently inferior. When court cases like these get brought to national attention, it is a large-scale insult to my race and to my personal successes. I earned my place, and no bitter white woman can convince me that I do not. So stay mad, Abby.