The current news has provided an outpour in the Black Lives Matter movement, but let’s be candid, it wasn’t breaking news for us. These are not new feelings.
Living in East African countries with our very own sons and daughters in power is not as bad as being Black in America, Europe or elsewhere but sometimes, it’s no better.
It’s a public anchoring of conversations that we’ve had over dinner with friends and family all our lives. We fight the same fights.
We fight against repression, classicism, tribalism and the ever revolving corruption. We fight against ourselves. We fight misinformation and lack of information.
The events have unearthed past articles of not the big rocks, but of the small ones. The startups landscape in Kenya that is filled with White people and the lack of payment of artists by white employer in Rwanda.
It’s a whole mess that might not get heard or addressed.
As we discuss the events happening to blacks on other continents: Black lives matters in America and the woes of the Windrush Generation in the UK; lets also consider African lives and the information that is written and reinforced about Africa. We need to question what w have been told about Africans and Africanism.
Today, the world’s history books have obliterated the story of Africans. There is no recognition of what, for instance, the colonizers owe to the countries they once colonized. The history taught in schools today doesn’t take into account the wealth and culture of the African people.
Picking from what black people are doing in their respective position of influence, frustrations and need to do something, I found that maybe the most important thing we need to do in this moment is represent.
There is this thing about representation that empowers and accelerates development.
Kirk Moore a professional TV writer, working on shows like 13 Reasons Why and American Crime said “If we are gonna talk about Black Lives Matter … then you actually have to let people of color run the room.”
And I say if we are going to talk about Africa, we need to have an African in the room. If you need to talk about Kenyan, pass the mic to a Kenyan.
If you need to do a movie about Rwanda, don’t cast British actors and actresses, pass the mic.
If you are going to talk about African fashion, pass the mic to African designers and artists.
How can we pass the mic?
This isn’t a charge that’s impossible to fix. If anything, I think it’s straightforward: give opportunities to local, young, men and women. We can concisely eradicate the biases with the level of access to those roles.
We’ve seen good and bad in the last few weeks. From dramatic, showy activism and real ally ship. We’ve seen brands donating and promising to do more for Black people, but we yet to see systemic changes within these organizations.
Sean Canty, an architectural designer and an assistant professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, has a great idea that we can implement in our context to make sure that the mic can be passed to those who need to speak. He compiled a list of Black creatives working in architecture, furniture design, art, fashion, and urbanism. He’s now created an Airtable based on the Stories to help you discover your next favorite follow.
Who can you recommend in your industry? Who do you think the mic should be passed to?
Ready to hear from you. Let’s amplify African artists, small businesses, artists, advocates, etc.
I will start: Go to my Instagram page to find a few voices that need to be heard.