If It Were That Easy, We Would Have Done It
Politics and Activism

If It Were That Easy, We Would Have Done It

Why "going back to Africa" isn't a solution.


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?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Founders Of Color Q&A: Yarlap's MaryEllen Reider On Destigmatizing Women's Health

The father-daughter duo co-founded the brand and has since generated a passionate, dedicated community of women.

MaryEllen Reider

I was lucky enough to meet MaryEllen Reider over a decade ago as a fellow freshman in college. Since then, I had the luxury of being able to witness her evolution from the faithful companion I went to my first job fair with to the woman who is now a pioneer in destigmatizing the portrayal of women's reproductive health.

Keep Reading... Show less

My favorite Editor was feeling under the weather yesterday. All I wanted was to make her a vegan iced matcha latte. With distance forbidding it, I instead decided to write up this quick, easy recipe. I made it to be vegan and organic for optimal health benefits.

Matcha green tea is made from grounded green tea leaf and it comes with the most antioxidant boost ever.

Keep Reading... Show less

This coffee brand is USDA organic. Newman's Own Keurig coffee flavors are all organic. They have French Roast, Decaf, and a Special Blend. I'm in a committed relationship with the French Roast flavor. The smell alone from dispensing 1 cup of coffee sets a whole cafe jazz vibe.

I'm already relaxed when I smell the coffee all ready for dressing. The way I make my coffee is simple and sweet, literally. I add a spoon of organic brown sugar and a splash of organic almond vanilla milk. This cup of coffee has changed my life forever. I have never been so productive in my life and I truly believe it's because the coffee is organic.

Keep Reading... Show less

These organic, cruelty-free skincare products are great for hot, sweaty summers. I use them every day, so you will find my honest opinion about them all. I highly recommend using organic products because they are least likely to be harmful to your body.

This may seem like an extra step when it comes to your beauty routine, but it's really easy. These 5 products could be the start of your next beauty venture.

Keep Reading... Show less

These 5 Black Handbag Designers Should Be On Every Accessory Lover's Radar

With the push to support more Black-owned businesses, we've put together a list of Black owned handbag designers.

Ever since the current upheaval of societal silence happening in the country caused by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there has been a bigger push for people to support Black-owned businesses.

Granted, there are a lot fo Black-owned businesses to support, it just takes time to find them. With that being said, fashion is a sector, just like any sector really, in a culture that still has people of color calling out for more diversity.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because Therapy Dogs Aren't Just Cute, They're Working

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

There are many different ways people overcome obstacles in their lives. Thankfully, the stigma surrounding therapy is slowly (but surely) slipping away and we're opening up about our problems and needs. For some, a good workout is just as relaxing. Others are learning how meditation can be a helpful tool in their mental health journey.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments