You don't feel connected to your African roots? Here's why I do.
DEARLY beloved. We are gathered here today to discuss a serious sentiment expressed in corners of our community. And honestly, these statements stop me dead in my tracks! They take my breath away but for all the wrong reasons.
You see, I’ve been running across African Americans in online spaces who say they feel no connection to their African roots. Some of these folks say celebrating your African ancestry chips away at the meaningfulness of your Black American history. Other people say they do not feel connected to Africans on the continent, first generation’ers, or to African immigrants at home.
Now, African Americans are not a monolith and we are certainly entitled to our opinions. However, I can’t help but wonder if some of our African ancestors are rolling over in their graves when we say stuff like this.
So, in honor of all of our African ancestors, and the continent most were never able to return to, here’s why I unequivocally feel connected to my African roots.
7 Reasons I Unequivocally Feel Connected to my African Roots
1. Because Black history simply doesn’t begin with America.
Mansa Musa, the Mali Empire, the Great Zimbabawe. There is a wealth of culture and advancement that was done by people whose blood runs through me. So why would I want to distance myself from them?
And, after aaall the language, culture, customs, spirituality, and more that was stripped away from our ancestors, I’m holding on tight onto whatever connection I can rekindle through studying, visits to Africa, and mentally connecting with my ancestors spirits.
2. Because embracing my African lineage doesn’t devalue the power of my African American roots.
I have never felt like I had to choose between my African American-ness or my African-ness. Neither trumps the other. Both are equally dope. In fact, to me, they are exquisitely intertwined. I couldn’t be more elated to be an American of African descent. That combo is lit! I talk more about how the two parallel in this Youtube video.
3. Because distancing myself from my African ancestry is legit hurtful to my ancestors.
Imagine your African ancestors who actually survived the Middle Passage. They left the lush shores of West Africa, had their mother-tongues beaten out of them, and had to adjust to a new cold world. Now think about how much they must have longed for and missed home. Now imagine their descendants saying they felt no connection to your Motherland. Enough said. We can, at the very least, honor their harrowing life journeys by showing interest in who they were and what they came from.
4. Because in the grand scheme of history we weren’t in Africa that long ago.
African Americans have only been in America for 400 years. But we’ve been in Africa for millenniums. And this is no shade to what we have accomplished in America under such extreme circumstances. But, how can you throw away thousands of years of culture for 400 years of oppression? Whenever I remind myself of just how recently African Americans were in Africa, I realize how closely connected I am to the soil of that continent.
5. Because they’re mine.
Yep. I am claiming my African roots, reparations (if we ever get them), and all the history that was deliberately kept away from my ancestors and I. It is mine. For keeps! So yea, I’m reading up on African cultures. I’m teaching my son about his African history. He will know more than the media portrays about who we are and our endless contributions to this planet.
6. Because what is a tree without its roots?
Cliché, I know. But seriously. There’s so much to be said for having a connection with your ancestry. For starters, you’ll be linked with those who share it. And you’ll (ideally) look out for each other. This is pretty evident just by looking at the unity within Asian diaspora communities, for example. As a collective, the African diaspora could affect so much more change.
7. Because ancestral energy is real.
From my late mother’s spirit to the warmth and relaxation I feel when stepping off a plane on the continent...Black ancestral energy is real y’all. Those of us who remain open to it know exactly what I mean. There are just those times when you know your African and African American ancestors are collectively guiding you. And their energy is so powerful that it doesn’t matter that I haven’t met them or that I don’t know what specific West African village they hail from. The connection is real. Ase!