Africans, African Americans, and the History of Slavery

In his poetry, fiction and essays, and Mukoma Wa Ngugi, associate professor of English, asks why tensions endure between Africans and African Americans despite a history of common political struggle. In this Cornell Research article, he talks about his first encounters with what it meant to be Black in the United States——in his father’s library in Kenya, reading James Baldwin and Richard Wright and issues of Ebony and Jet.

"Mukoma was born in Illinois to Kenyan parents in 1971," the article explains. "His family moved back to Kenya when he was still a baby. Returning to the United States for college in 1990, Mukoma was at a keg party his freshman year when an African American student asked him if Africans live in trees. They traded insults and nearly came to blows before an older African American student stepped in.“She just sat us down and tried to talk sense to us,” Mukoma says. “I guess she’s the one who first gave me the thesis that we are seeing each other through the eyes of racism.'"

Read the story on the Cornell Research website.

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