If you're black, I can almost guarantee that at some point you've been told to "go back to Africa." This response is usually incited by speaking out on the injustices that we as black people can face here in America. Uninterested and insensitive to our struggle, or even hearing about it for that matter, the lack luster solution of "well, if you hate America so much, go back to Africa," is usually given. It should go without saying that the response is rude and inconsiderate, however, if that's not easily understood, let me explain.
I was having a conversation with a white male colleague about slavery and the effects that it has had. He was insisting that we as black people should forgive and forget about slavery because we wouldn't be where we are today without it, and that we should trust the journey that God takes us on. Confused, I asked what he meant. He explained that we need to forgive and forget, and stop blaming this generation for slavery when they had no control over it. He also said that we wouldn't be where we are today which is in a free country with equal rights. Can you guess what he finished his explanation by telling me? You guessed it! He said that we are more than welcome to "return to our homeland" (a bit more eloquently put than usual) if we hate this country's history so much.
Now, knowing him personally, I know he had good intentions with his response, however, his response was dripping with privilege and lack of understanding. Unfortunately, this is the reality of many people: privilege and lack of understanding. That's not to say many people who tell us to go back to Africa aren't simply cold and racist, but either way, let me explain.
First, when discussing slavery, the effects of slavery, and the systematic racism in this country, no one is blaming "this generation." However, this generation needs to understand that they still benefit from the effects of slavery. Furthermore, those same effects are continuing to affect black people in a negative way to this day.
Secondly, the idea that all of Africa is or was this horribly impoverished place needs to be abolished. Slavery did not save us from anything, and definitely not from ourselves. Africa was a great and rich continent hence it being colonized by so much of Europe. I'm pretty sure we would have been just fine in Africa. Africa was filled with so many great civilizations and riches, therefore, stripping our ancestors from their families and homelands to place us in a foreign country as a means of free labor was not a favor.
Lastly, how are we gonna just go back to Africa? Let's be clear that Africa is a continent and not a country. There are 54 countries in Africa, most of us don't have the luxury of knowing what country in Africa our ancestors are originally from. Even if we do know what country our ancestors are from, most of us don't know anyone there; we're foreigners at this point. Even if we did, picking up and moving to a different country, let alone another continent, is not something most of us can do with ease.
The fact is, we are Americans. That's just it. The only connection to Africa that most of us have is our skin color and our hair. It's unfortunate, but it's the way it is. Our culture is American, we speak English, and this is our home. America is all we know. While many of us embrace our African roots, Africa is still an idealized place for us. Therefore, telling us to "go back" is insensitive and inconsiderate.
This isn't an attack, but it is a call to look into your privilege. You don't know the half of our struggles because you don't go through it, so stop with these lack luster "solutions" to what we need to do. If you really want to help — which I suppose most people just want us to shut up — look and learn from our perspective. Use your privilege to help our cause. Figure out where we're coming from. In the age of information, you don't know because you don't want to. If none of that interests you, then just stop.
Believe me, if just "going back to Africa" were that simple, we would have done it by now (google Liberia, and see how that worked out). Furthermore, think about what you're saying before you say it. Why be rude when you can just be quiet?