Afro-diasporic solidarity is complex, and often fraught

Hazel Rowley in The Nation:

At least 12 million people from Africa were loaded into slave ships and transported to the Americas. How do people of African descent, scattered around the world, see their relationship to their ancestral home? Do they consider themselves “the African diaspora”? If their African heritage dates back several generations, is it “nebulous atavistic yearnings,” as the Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen once said, to search for their roots, to want some kind of bond with their ancestral homeland? Or is it important, in a neocolonial and still-racist world, that Africans and people of African descent see themselves as part of a transnational community? After all, the ancestors in question did not choose to leave their homeland; they arrived in the Americas in chains, and from the time they landed they were divided and dispersed, as a strategy of domination. And even though slavery has ended, people of African descent still wear its imprint on their skin, like a tattoo. Out of slavery came an ideology of racism that permeates the Western world to this day. Given the black collective memory of slavery, it is easy to understand the emotional tug of the ancestral land, the longing for Pan-African brotherhood and the desire for a community that is not racist. The trouble is, as these three books all show, Afro-diasporic solidarity is complex, and often fraught.

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