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Why The All-Ivy League Success Story Has Refueled Tensions Between Africans and African-Americans

Tensions rise between African Americans and African immigrants “He’s not your typical African-American kid.”

When the remarkable first-generation Ghanian-American student, Kwasi Enin, was accepted into all eight Ivy League schools, that comment was part of the explanation IvyWise CEO Katherine Cohen offered on why Enin stood out.

Cohen also noted that Enin is ranked in the top 2 percent of his class, has musical talents and incredible standardized testing scores.  But the idea that Enin is not a “typical African-American kid” is what seemed to be highlighted.

While Cohen didn’t make the comment to suggest that the “typical African-American kid” is lazy, that is exactly how the statement is being received by some people, according to The Wire,and it’s adding to the pre-existing tensions between African-Americans and African immigrants in the United States.

The general stereotypes are that African-Americans are lazy and complacent. They have nobody but themselves to blame for massive educational and socio-economical gaps that have placed African-American children at a severe disadvantage.

African immigrants, on the other hand, are destined for success, so the stereotype goes. They appreciate hard work and family values all while their families are back home swinging through dense forests in nothing but loincloths and sleeping in small huts.

The tensions derive from years of misunderstandings, stereotypes perpetuated by mainstream media, and a lack of an open and honest discussion on the relationships between African-Americans and Africans.

Nigerian-born immigrant and blogger Luvvie Ajayi took to Twitter to discuss the tension between African-Americans and African immigrants back in January, when she tried to explain the word “akata.”

Kwasi Enin accepted to all ivy league schools

Photo:Dennis A. Clark,

The word is used by many Nigerians to refer to Black Americans. However, the word actually translates to “wild animal.”

“The word epitomizes the terrible stereotypes that Africans have about African-Americans. But many young Africans don’t know what it MEANS,” Luvvie explained. “They use it because they’ve heard it being used so casually that many don’t know that it’s derogatory. Passed down prejudice.”

Luvvie explained that many Africans who come to the U.S. are not educated on the history of slavery and how in America there’s still “400 years of damage folks still gotta fix.”

“But I want Black folks in the U.S. not to hate us for the ignorance we carry,” Luvvie tweeted. “It’s from our lack of knowing. Teach us.”

Gerald A. Montgomery of says there is ignorance on the other side as well.

According to Montgomery, some African-Americans view African immigrants as “pompous peacocks,” who are “enjoying the freedoms of earlier generations of so-called Negroes” who were “fire-hosed, jailed, even lynched” for the opportunities that Africans in America now benefit from. Those views are just as ignorant, he maintains.

The discussion of the divide between Africans and African-Americans is certainly nothing new. In 2009, the president of the U.S. African Chamber of Commerce, Martin Mohammed, talked to CNN about the cultural differences between both groups.

Mohammed explained that despite the differences in the history of both cultures, neither reigns superior to the other.

“Honestly, what we need to do is realize both cultures are important,” he told CNN.

However, regardless of which country or continent someone calls their home, it is important that Enin, and all other Black people achieving great things, are equally recognized and celebrated.

What people are saying

9 thoughts on “Why The All-Ivy League Success Story Has Refueled Tensions Between Africans and African-Americans

  1. John Joldersma says:

    This problem has a long history. During the Summer of 1965 I attended a Summer Quarter at Michigan State University. All the Fullbright Scholars in the country were processed through the MSU International Center. There were about 20 Nigerian Ibos now called Igbos. I spent a lot of time with one who was a math major named Francis. He told me that the problem, at that time, was a combination of the view of American blacks of Africa as a place where everybody lived in huts and hunted lions and the fact that American blacks did not know what tribe they were from and to Africans they were nobodies.

  2. interesting dissection….

  3. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    This problem is not only between blacks in America and blacks on the continent. It also happens between blacks on the continent, Nigerians, Liberians, Ghanese, South Africans. Also Haitians, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Brazilians. It's all of us. But one thing we all need to understand, we are all cut from the same cloth. That some of our ancestors were sent to different parts of the world. We are all descendents of African people. We all were forced into European mentality. That's want colonization did. Like it or not!

    With that said, blacks in America have more access and freedom than any other. We don't use it wisely. We need to get our priorities straight. When parents put their kids first, that attentions pays off.

    Today we allow the music and television industries to depict us in a negative like. We depend solely on an educational system created by whites to educate our kids. We are to busy listening to those that say we should look pass race. Race does matter! Our priorities are in the wrong place. Everything is about money. No morals, values. No respect for each other. No knowledge of Ancient African history. No knowledge of how black people were spread across the dispora. We don't understand that a lot of what is believed by blacks were taught by an oppressor, passed from generation to generation. When parents put their kids first, that attentions pays off.

    Black kids in America are just as smart as anyone else. There are also black kids in this country that excel. But the problem is, it's not talked about, it's not in the media. Be careful of the divide and conquere rule.

    We need more conversation about what the descendents of African people are doing with education. Are we going back to our communities or are we assimulating. I say that because, some of us know about the active role that imperialism plays. Look at what is happening in the world. Look at the governments of the countries we live in and what role blacks are playing in these governments. Most of them are participating in the very same imperialism that divided, stole and oppressed our ancestors. They are in the bed with that very same mentality.

    What we all need to understand is, college education is just a piece of the puzzle. History and knowing the difference between assimulation and intergration is the other.

  4. James E Sullivan says:

    I'm just curious, but why does one apply to eight Ivy league schools?

  5. Vincent Parrish says:

    To increase his chances to get in one. He probably applied to a hundred schools but ivy league will get all the attention.

  6. Too me that's just it attention !!some people are vary desperate for it even though I love the fact that there is a young black person getting in an ivy league school but why is it that media has too point out the fact that he is African American .were are all the stories about black born American men & women who never had a father .who's single mother tried any and every thing too take care of them without any education herself .but her children still mad it too college were is there story. You dont here about them because they are not from Africa.

  7. James E Sullivan says:

    Ayitey Bm, they are different schools with different strengths and weaknesses so, depending on what you are going to college to study, I would think that a student who was focused on one thing or another would find it at other schools along with one or two Ivy League institutions.
    I guess I am just questioning whether any and every Ivy League school is an ideal educational setting for every young person.

  8. This issue of tensions between African-American and African immigrant communities is part of a divide and conquer strategy by Europeans. But it's gonna backfire in the end like every other effort by the european to destroy African Hebrew Israelite people. Cause wherever they lay their hands upon God's people they catching licks.

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