In mid-August 2023, BlackEconomics.org released an essay, “Black Americans Have Choices.” “Blaxit” (Black Americans emigrating) to Afrika is a topic relevant to, but not broached, in that essay. Consequently, we address Blaxit here. As a starting point and for context, we invite you to consider a 2008 paper, “Coming to Africa: Should Black Americans Emigrate?”
Some might argue that we should update certain data points in the just-cited paper because 14 years have elapsed. We respond that many events have transpired in the interim, but not much has changed for Black America. Specifically, Black-White economic gaps have gone essentially unchanged. Why? Because Black America did not respond favorably to the paper’s call for developing and operationalizing a plan for producing improving change.
Fortunately, we persisted and thanks to the grassroots Long-Term Strategic Plan Panel there is now a Long-Term Strategic Plan for Black America (LTSP).
The LTSP publication highlights four well-known options available to Black America for our envisioned future: (1) Continue the existing integrationist status quo; (2) seek independence and self-determination in resegregated areas of influence (communities); (3) establish an independent territory(ies) in North America; and (4) diaspora to Afrika or elsewhere. The LTSP publication favors option “2,” but does not prohibit or preclude the remaining options. We are not a monolithic people, and we will each make our own decision as we go forward. However, we would be wise to opt for more unification and strategic self-alignment to produce the most favorable outcomes.
Therefore, emigrating to Afrika is on the table. But we should only decide to emigrate to Afrika if answers to the following selected and critical questions point us logically to that choice.
Where can we heal best?—Black Americans are the product of 400+ years of trauma. It is true that it is possible to turn over a new leaf when dropped into a new environment. However, a new environment does not guarantee perfect outcomes when traumatic baggage is aboard. Can Black America heal (physically, mentally, and spiritually) better and more completely in Afrikan or in separated US environments? Clearly, those being traumatized should first remove themselves from environments that enable trauma. Once removed from traumatic environments, we should seek to recover by: (1) Performing deep analysis, rationalization, and excision of trauma; (2) building strength and defenses; and (3) choosing to remain permanently outside of traumatic environments; or (4) choosing to return to traumatic environments with tools to fight and defeat trauma perpetrators. We might perform recovery parts 1, 2, and 3, but part 4 could not be performed if we emigrated to Afrika—unless we chose to engage trauma perpetrators in international arenas. There is one thing for certain: When one is engaged in battle, ill and ill-functioning teammates are undesirable. Therefore, we should not expect Afrikans to assist in or be sympathetic to our trauma recovery when they are already engaged in a battle that is traumatic and looms as an ultimate challenge.
Is the Afrikan “welcome home” all about greenbacks?—People in want will do “almost anything” to satisfy their needs. “Almost anything” is underlined twice when that people have been programmed to want precisely what is in the offing. In this case, Black Americans have relatively meager resources, but they may appear sizeable to Afrikans. Afrikans may believe that, if they can attract Black American investment dollars through warm and joyous “welcome homes,” then they can use those resources to elevate their economic (material) well-being, meet their needs, and then brush aside Black Americans. Remember that this is essentially what the Chinese achieved—even with the threat of a US military force at the ready to protect US investors. Black Americans will have no such military backing. Note that selected Afrikan nations have a history of dissimilation between intra and international tribal groups and peoples when those viewed as outsiders prosper more than local groups. Moreover, today, we are even hearing about Afrikans rejecting their European colonizers, who have engaged historically in economic exploitation; viz., the recent coups in Niger and Gabon.(1)
What are Black America’s expected outcomes from an “emigrate to Afrika” strategy?—“Returning home” has been romanticized: Whether prodigal daughters or returning prisoners. Therefore, it may seem natural for Black America to romanticize returning home to Afrika. But realistically and on the ground, what are Black America’s long-term expectations about a potential future in Afrika? Do we envision a full reintegration with prospects for an Afrikan rise to which we can contribute integrally? But then what? Are we not “New Afrikans” best suited to carve out our own future in the world; and to become leaders in ways beyond which Afrika can offer? There has certainly been chatter about Black America’s return to Afrika by leaders on both sides of the pond for many decades. However, much of what we know about this topic in the West is what Black American minds have conjured. What have Afrikans said about Black Americans’ return and our role in their home? Before we all move lock, stock, and barrel to Afrika, we would be well advised to engage with Afrikan leadership to develop a long-term strategic plan that identifies and guarantees (to the extent possible) a role for us on the continent with which we can agree.
Can Today’s Black Americans and Afrikans Engineer Our Rise?—Albert Ein- stein is dubiously credited as commenting (paraphrasing): One cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem.(2) This is a somewhat startling view. However, if true, then we should all shut our mouths, stop the audio or video recordings, put down our pens, and freeze our fluttering fingers. We are all products of the Western World: Afrikan Americans and Afrikans alike. This we cannot deny. Therefore, because the Western World created the conditions from which our conundrum emerges (How can Black Americans and Afrikans rise?), and because we are products of the Western World, we cannot expect to evolve a perfect solution with our current consciousness. Consequently, our best strategy may be to not act in haste. Rather, it may be in our best interest to take a generation to raise an Afrikan mind that can identify perfect solutions. Logically, such a mind, if prepared properly, may be able to confront the conundrum from a fresh vantage point, and produce a solution that the Western World cannot vanquish.
Can Africa Reach the Pinnacle?—It is wonderful to be hopeful, but realism should rule the day. If the objective is to replicate Western World materialism in Africa, then consider China as an example. Fifty years after Pres. Nixon opened China to the Western World, that nation stands as the second most powerful nation in the world. Once upon a time, there was nearly no doubt that China would supersede the US economy as measured by gross domestic product (GDP). However, some are now saying that may never occur.3 Keep in mind that the US played a major role in China’s rise. Is it expected that those in a “Catbird seat” will willingly vacate that prized position and allow challengers to supplant them? Also, realize that India—a considerably fragment- ed nation—has failed to live up to its development predictions and promise. Now recognize that Africa has an even knottier history of oppression and suppression by colonizers than China and India. Can we expect 54 countries with leaders hell-bent on enjoying a Western World lifestyle to sublimate their aspirations to achieve a unification that can produce a global superpower? Ask that question again and factor in what the brain drain has done, and continues to do, to Afrika.
Can Black America accelerate Africa’s rise?—To answer this question, contemplate the concept of “comparative advantage.” What is Black America’s comparative advantage? In which fields do we have significant expertise? In which fields is that expertise abundant and robust? Is science and engineering among those fields? Now consider that in the early 1960s, Uganda’s economy was significantly stronger than the South Korea economy as measured by exports. Today, South Korea is a chest, shoulders, a neck, and a head above Uganda in exports and in other economic aspects. This difference in economic outcomes can be attributed, in part, to the difference in the two countries’ production of scientists and engineers over the period. Economies can grow faster and more sustainably when they produce goods and services for and apace with their populaces and for export. Scientists and engineers lead the way in designing and building frameworks and systems that facilitate production. Because Black America is not rich with scientists and engineers, it is realistic to conclude that our potential direct contributions to the economic growth and development of Afrika will be limited and not central to Africa’s rise. This conclusion could be countervailed somewhat if Black America could provide financial capital to bolster fledgling Afrikan economies. However, we have too few financial experts—especially in the field of high finance.
“Blaxit to Africa”
Do we have time?—How much time do we (Black Americans) have to prepare, plan, and implement strategies to emigrate to Afrika—if it is in our best interest to do so. The pace of population, climatological, and ecological change is rapid. The current global trajectory on all these fronts points to crises that may place “have not” people and nations strictly in survival mode. On the other hand, if we can resurrect the Afrikan mind mentioned above in a new and next generation, then that mind and generation may be able to envision and produce a new world where materialism is diminished and where technology is used selectively and on a refined basis to save our world and produce a prosperity that features heretofore unknown and unrealized human and nonhuman assets.
All the foregoing are important questions that will take time to answer. At the same time, we can ill-afford to experience paralysis by analysis. The best Black minds on both sides of the pond should engage on these questions urgently. However, if beneficial answers are derived, then they will be of little use unless Black Americans and Afrikans display unrelenting unity, trust, and persistence in implementing them.
In the end, we are staring at the prospect of real and enjoyable work. We can never forget that cold, cruel, and harsh European conditions motivated Whites to capture and dominate the world. However, the impetus for their cruel and egregious misdeeds to humans and to the Earth does not supersede the motivation that Black people of the world confront today: Our very survival and the preservation of our Earth home as we know it, which we agreed to dress and keep from the beginning.
1 Paul Melly (2023). “Gabon coup: Why young Africans are celebrating military takeovers.” BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-66657571 (Ret. 090523).
2 There is no authentic source that assigns this comment/saying to Einstein definitively.
3 Jasmine Ng (2023). “China Slowdown Means It May Never Overtake US Economy, Forecast Shows.” Bloomberg.com. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-09-05/china-slowdown-means-it-may-never-overtake-us-economy-be-says#xj4y7vzkg (Ret. 090423).