“African versus African American: Healing The Sibling Rivalry” (Project Fund-Raising)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 8, 2011 2:03 PM
2 Comments
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I thought we’d written about this doc before, but I can’t find any entries on it. So I’m either going crazy or blind; not good one way or the other… anyway, the documentary project is called African versus African American: Healing The Sibling Rivalry, a controversial film by Peres Owino, that addresses the “little known tension that exists between Africans and African Americans.”

As an African who spent his formative years and beyond here in the USA (roughly 24 years straight), I’m intimately familiar with all sides of this *rivalry,* to use the filmmaker’s words, but I’ll save my *findings* for another time, and instead let the filmmaker discuss her motivations for producing a film focused on this specific matter.

Ms Owino is trying to raise $7,000 to complete the film, for which she has already shot over 25 hours of mostly interview footage; she has just 18 days left to add to the measly $795 in the till thus far, meaning she need another $6,205 to reach her goal. Can she get there in 18 days? I say, why not?

You’re encouraged to first read THIS interview with Owino (courtesy of Beti Ellerson, Ph.D. of the African Women in Cinema Blog - another site I recommend) in which she discusses her current documentary project.

Here’s a snip:

Q. Your subject of your current documentary project, “Africans versus African Americans: Healing the Silent Sibling Rivalry” is fascinating! There have been many debates, studies and much dialogue around it. I have discussed this issue with my African and African American students—among whom I have witnessed these misunderstandings! What inspired you to deal with this topic?

A. When I was in Kenya I studied the history of the Maafa (African Holocaust/Enslavement of Africans) extensively. I read the writings of Frederick Douglas, Harriet Jacobs, Olaudah Equiano, the Slave Narratives and felt a pain inside me. I felt that somehow I had something precious to give to those who were denied it. And I promised myself that when I came to America I would give every African American I met, Africa. But when I got here things weren’t what I thought they would be. For one, it seemed to me that none of the African Americans I was encountering cared about Africa and it’s “booty scratchers”. I approached an African American student whom I “mistook” for an African (I wonder why) and was swiftly told, “I am not African, you people sold us.” I was shocked. We began to dialogue and needless to say, we became good friends. Together, we integrated the African students into the Black Students Union. It became a place for Africa’s children to meet and get to know each other. We were only 45 of us, so that was easy to do. On campuses like University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with huge African and African American populations the divide is accepted and remains. I often attended African parties in Whitewater and not once in five years did I see a single African American in attendance. And that is sad. That is the other side of the coin, the side we are most concerned about. .

Q. How will you contextualize this debate/issue in the documentary?

A. This documentary will look at those things that make us similar, what unifies us as opposed to what divides us. We can all agree we have been dealing with the latter for over 500 years.

Watch her pitch below (she’s joined by Tene Carter, the project’s producer, and an African American as she notes), and if you’re sold, head over to the project’s IndieGoGo page to contribute (the box underneath the video):

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2 Comments

  • ForeignBlackChick | November 10, 2011 4:25 AMReply

    I am an African woman from Uganda and I love African Americans just like I love all people. And I've never encountered any hostility or booty-scratcher comments or whatever in America. The African Americans I know are interested in seeing the real Africa not what white-owned media puts out. Amongst other interests of course.

    And I know many African Americans. They are all individuals and have individual interests/characters, just like my African colleagues. They are also very understanding and knowledgeable people, whom I've learnt a lot from. They have a good understanding of what it takes to rise up as a race, from the ashes. Every immigrant needs that.

    I think we can all learn from each other and unite if we stop silently 'one-upping' each other.
    Viva Black People! Viva Africa! (too cheesy? hehe)

  • Troy | November 9, 2011 11:28 AMReply

    Their are many different ways to frame this conversation. When dealing with any immigrants idea of African-Americans we must realize that usually, that image is formed through white owned media. As even we born here know that even "black media" is white owned. Their is no gate keeper for the black community and their events. Everyone is accepted, even though people tend to take a few individuals hostile faces as exclusionary.

    My sister's Bahamian college friend had many things negative to say about AAs. However she had no job, no green card, was living with us for free, and I was on our cell plan. She has since gotten married to someone she only knew for a few months and hasn't spoken to my sister since then.

    I just believe it is stupid to be jealous of AAs. We weren't given asylum!

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