This I Believe

Keturah - Louisville, Kentucky
Entered on January 14, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe that Africa is more than a collection of people who are starving and/or are in war, and that media’s constant portrayal of this singular view has robbed African American’s of a since of pride in their heritage.

My mother, despite her seemingly conservative views, has always claimed to be militant. As a child, I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but it translated into a family environment where any excuse of substandard schooling, or tests not being fair were never uttered or considered. Where I was pulled out of school routinely on Martin Luther King’s birthday out of principle, and where I was taught to respect and know the history of my people.

It is my belief that a person’s history and origin goes a long way towards that person’s since of pride and belief in ones self. The Continent of Africa, which is roughly large enough to fit the United States, China, Europe, India, Argentina, AND New Zealand with room to spare, has been simplified and reduced to a group of people who were enslaved, or without outside intervention would either starve to death, or kill themselves through war. This forced me to make the decision millions of African American’s must make: how to be proud of a place where the inhabitants are not able to escape poverty or war without pleading to outside forces for assistance?

I am dismayed as to why Africa is treated differently. How, although China and India also suffer unspeakable poverty at astronomical levels, only Africa has become the face of global poverty. These countries poverty is often excused, overlooked, or simply dismissed in favor of the more marketing friendly version that will drive investor dollars. It is as if the desire for cheap labor and a large consumer base dismisses the existence of their poverty stricken lands.

As I began to do more research, I realized that the true story of Africa is not what modern media shows me. They have attributed the significant and real issues that individual areas face to the entire continent. That is akin to writing off the entire United States of America because California and Texas happens to be in the throws of turmoil.

I realized that the images of Africa’s leaders appealing to the larger world for assistance are really not them asking for a handout, but them asking for the nations to stand up and take responsibility. Ownership for the ruin that has been caused through the continued rape of Africa’s abundant natural resources, and the systematic demolition of their system of government in favor of governments set up on arbitrary lines that breed corruption and contempt.

Finally I realized that it is up to me to spread my beliefs, and to help instill pride in those around me. It is up to me to show others the multifaceted face of the continent. It is up to me to educate those in my belief that our heritage is not tainted, but that we can be proud of those that went before us, and those that still exist on the continent of our ancestors.