On Twitter on a Saturday morning for five minutes and I’m already rolling my eyes. Here we go again. For those of you who don’t use social media, the “diaspora wars” refers to a regular cycle of social media arguments where West Indians, Africans and Black Americans “war” to claim which one is the best. It’s an argument that I’m not interested in at all so this post is not going to contain any argument “for” or “against” any group of black people. (Reminder, we are all black.) What I’m interested in exploring is the anti-blackness that inevitably crops up amongst ALL groups of social media users.
No matter what region in the world they’re arguing in favor of, black participants in the diaspora wars almost always rely on racial stereotypes created by white people about black people globally. i am 100% uninterested in “calling people out” but I am interested in accusing every single person who has ever engaged in this argument to closely examine what insults they turn to when they feel defensive about their current homeland.
So this is less about the “diaspora wars” and more about what they bring out of us.
Some insults rely on classism:
- Caribbean people are poor
- Black Americans live in ghettos
- Africans live in huts
Some insults rely on general anti-black stereotypes:
- Black Americans have no culture outside of “ebonics”
- Caribbean people only have reggae
- Africans have no culture
- Each group accuses the other of not being as intelligent due to school success, neglecting the different factors that account for the different statistics reported by white media publications.
Some insults rely on homophobia or sexism:
- Slurs are targeted at different groups of people
- Misogynistic comments are made about women from each region
Needless to say, this is wrong. While it is natural to become defensive when someone attacks your homeland, there are other ways to respond to abusive behavior that doesn't involve invoking anti-blackness or homophobia or misogyny. Degrading the traits of other black people that have been used historically by Europeans to justify slavery and colonization is harmful to our entire community.
Personally, I’m a fan of the block button. (Really, a big fan of the block button. We’re getting married in June.) You can also do your own research and figure out more effective strategies that will keep you safe from the effects of these harmful comments without causing you to feel passive. Check out this link for more information on dealing with social media trolls.
Whatever way you decide to handle the diaspora wars, I urge you not to put forth more anti-blackness into the world. When you attack the humanity, culture or the identity of another black person I believe you are doing nothing more than attacking your own identity. This isn’t saying that we should all just “love” each other and hold hands. There are bound to be abusive people everywhere who incite these social media wars for the purpose of boosting their own self-esteem and hurting others.
Find strength in your racial identity somewhere else. I promise you, building up a more positive sense of your own blackness without trashing Africans, Caribbean people or Black Americans will only benefit you in the long run. Let those who want to fight the useless battle do so without ruining your peace of mind or compromising your self-esteem by building it off another person's pain.