Shedding the label

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Everyone comes from somewhere. Perhaps this thought doesn’t need to be expressed. We all identify with one label or another, but maybe the world would be an easier place to live in if we didn’t have to shoehorn ourselves into neat categories so much of the time.

Africa is a continent with over fifty nations. Several races can claim to be indigenous to some of the regions on that land mass. In some cases those races have produced generations of folks with mixed heritages. Does it make sense for all of those diverse cultures to be filed under one single category?

In the arts, many conflicts have arisen in the past because of the restrictive practices of gatekeepers who have an interest in the creative output of folks of African descent. What would happen if the labels and categories were removed, so spaces could be created for artists of all backgrounds and heritages to simply ply their wares and engage directly with audiences everywhere?

Each generation brings its own set of values into the public arena. This is a fact of life that cannot be ignored or suppressed. We can all aim to be as open minded as possible, but it is highly unlikely that any of us will subscribe to every single viewpoint that floats in the ether.

Within the African continent, it is useful for networks and connections to be forged, for the betterment of the population as a whole. For those of us living in Diaspora communities, maybe it’s time to move on from expending so much energy on trying to define what it means to be an African. Who are we doing it for?