Black on African Crime

Did you see this video last week?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/41365925

This is Nadin Khoury, a 13 year old boy who lives in Upper Darby, PA. He was beaten up by a pack of bullies. After I watched this video, I did some searching on the history precipitating this incident. I discovered that Nadin and I have something in common: We both have a parent who is of African descent.

Apparently, two things contributed to Nadin’s attack:

  1. He was one of the smallest in his school/class
  2. His ‘alleged’ attackers found out that his mother was an African

At first, the bullying he endured was verbal. Eventually it escalated into a full blown 30 minute beat down, 7 minutes of which was caught on tape. The internet has been flooded with people calling for the arrests of not just the kids involved in this, but their parents as well. One person, who identified himself as White, asked why Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson had no swooped in yet to protest and condemn these events. Why not indeed? It’s a valid question. Well as we all know, and by this pair’s own admission, they do not canvass against Black on Black crime. The NAACP only gets involved with the fists doing the punching or the fingers pulling the trigger are White. And when the crime is Black-American on African, it’s not even worth discussing. In fact, Nadin’s mother mentioned to the press that none of her son’s attackers attempted an offer of apology. She said she might not have pressed chargers if she had gotten a simple “I’m sorry”. Sounds like the rancid apples did not fall far from the limbs of their respective rotten trees.

While Nadin’s attackers were just as brown as he, there exists one huge fundamental difference between them: he is, at least in part, indigenously African. Khoury’s mother is from Liberia.

I and others like me know his plight all too well. As a child who grew up having to straddle two cultures, going to school could be impossible at times. My best friend growing up was a blonde haired green-eyed girl called Megan. Megan and I had many things in common: We both liked Rainbow Bright. We both had a Strawberry Shortcake lunch box. We both liked to skate. I’m sure I had things in common with the other Black girls in my class, but they never gave me the opportunity to find out. They were far too obsessed by what made me different, and that is that I was an ‘African’. (Incidentally, my sister’s best friend was a red-headed girl named Patti, probably for the same reasons.)

Every time I was called ‘African booty scratcher’, it was by Black lips. Every time I was instructed to show the class my ‘tail’, the order came from Black lips. When I only got 2 Valentine’s Day cards in my third grade class (in those days it was optional to give a card to whoever you wanted; these days you have to bring one for each member of your class), it was apparently because my ‘African-ess’ was an affront to the Black members of my class. Every time I’ve been asked if I live in a hole in Ghana, it’s been from Black lips!

In truth, there was very little difference between me and the other Black girls in my class, except my last name was ‘Gyekye’ and theirs might have been ‘Jenkins’. We wore the same cornrows, had the same hue of brown skin, and rode the same bus. But the fact that I was born in Ghana, to a Ghanaian father, was enough to attempt to relegate me to second class citizenry. It’s like a ‘drop of African blood’ made you all African – similar to that ‘drop of Black blood’ made you a slave in 1783. That was back in 1983. Apparently, very little has changed almost 30 years later.

My husband was surprised to find out that discrimination against Africans exists in the Black community. I was amazed at his surprise – but then I have to remember that he’s from a small town in Ohio. The most exotic person in his ‘city’ would be mixed race with Native American, White and Black. Surely no one who needed a passport to enter the country would be living in Springfield when he was growing up.

I have no problem being called ‘African’. It is in part what I am after all. Incidentally, people still mock me on account of my heritage…and yes, they are all Black Americans. And that’s okay. The difference now is I’m older, smarter and have a barrage of choice words for anyone who cares to engage in combative verbal parlance, no matter how ignorant.

You really don’t know what words I have to say in return. It does little to ‘uplift the race’.

Fortunately Nadin seems to have summoned some latent inner strength and has declared that he is not afraid to testify against his tormentors; nor should he be. They are the cowards in this tale, not he.

  • A-dub

    Awwww, Patti… Patti was awesome. I remember our school-yard chant “Jason Jason he’s our man …”

    I was just talking to CW yesterday about “African booty scratcher” – Someone please tell me what that is. I think I will open it up to the FB audience.

    I apologize but, because of yesterday’s blog, all I could think when I read every line of your tale was “Niggas” the whole lot of them – Nigga from birth to death. Born a nigga – die a nigga.

  • And Jason was the first boy you went on a date with. I even remember what you were wearing for your dinner of mac n’ cheese and meatloaf. *Cackle!!!!*
    These boys were baboons, the lot of them…and that’s speaking badly of baboons. They deserve more respect than that. Just useless.

    By all means, if you find out what an ‘African booty scratcher’ is, enlighten the rest of us!

  • koma

    I remember when I was about 10 years old I had some high schoolers try to attack me for just minding my own business on my way to Girl Scouts. It started out verbally, but then it was starting to escalate while the high schoolers were getting closer….A white couple happened to come along to my rescue. But then here is a whole crowd of black folks, and all they do is either walk by or just watch? It even looked like the cops were pissed off about the incident. Those boys might as well have had white hoods over their heads.

    On a side note….glad to know I wasn’t the only one called an African booty scratcher……

  • Khadija

    This is sooo sad and painful to read but a reality. I was just arguing with someone via chat this morning about the very same issue, not about beatings per se but about how black Americans have this nasty attitude towards Africans. It’s funny cause the same things black American accuse (and it true) whites of doing, black Americans end up treating Africans the same exact way. I had to literally cut a woman off for this among other reasons just last week. She is a very very light skinned black American woman who has done nothing but complain since she has arrived in Ghana saying things like “These Africans are so dirty. These Africans are not smart at all, etc… I had enough of her and didn’t want my children to be around when she said such degrading nonsense because my children are just like you Malaka half African and half black American. They get enough craziness in school coming home asking me if they are white, Ghanaian or American. I’m just glad it’s not as bad here in Ghana for bi-cultural children or maybe I’m mistaken. Please enlighten me.

  • No Koma – neither of us is the first, nor will we be the last. I don’t see if ever changing, either.

    Khadija – You should keep teling your girls what you have always said: That they are both. To me, being of mixed heritage and living in Ghana was far more bearable than it was living in the States. There is a cruelty that these American children have that is unparralleled. At least in Ghana the teasing was all in fun, and at the end of the day it stops once those children exact their taxes from you (like you once said, every Ghanaian calculates how much they are going to take from you when they first meet you, whether you’re a foreigner or NOT). They will be just fine. They are clearly not White. These are just questions from primary school kids who don’t know any better, not a seed of hatred or self-imposed superiority.