I have been trying my hardest to keep my opinions on race, ethnicity, nationality, among others, away from the internet. In light of a recent occurrence, recent being January 22nd, I felt compelled to say my piece. Many will probably frown upon the title of this article but if you stick around, I hope you’ll be able to see my point.
Sen. Kamala Harris announced this week that she was throwing her hat in the race to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the US Presidential Election in 2020. It’s good seeing more women stepping forward to make positive changes in the highest office in America, regardless of party affiliation. As is the norm for American politics, at least from what I’ve seen, there is not a bar, low enough that opposing candidates or supporters won’t go. Being Jamaican, approximately 75% of the news that I consume daily are about my country. The other 25% is split among Japan (where I currently live), The United States of America (where some members of my family live) and the rest of the world. So the first publication where I read about Sen. Harris’ bid for presidency, was from Loop Jamaica. The headline read “Jamaican-American Kamala Harris enters US presidential race”. I immediately expressed my disapproval for such a headline because of how intentionally misleading it was. But anything for clicks right? LOL @ my own title. I knew how dangerous a heading like this could be, even from a baby news source like Loop Jamaica. Sen. Harris may have Jamaican heritage but she was born and raised on US soil, which cancels the whole notion. Loop Jamaica knows this but like a lot of Jamaicans like to do, they claimed her for their own benefit. (I’m sure Jamaica isn’t the only guilty party that clings to any success that has any link to it.)
It was then, I stumbled upon some tweets from someone who identifies themselves as an “Anti-Racism Strategist” (something I didn’t notice in their bio initially). With such a proclamation, I wouldn’t have expected the series of tweets from this individual. One would argue that Sen. Harris being a black woman, doesn’t mean she should get automatic support from fellow black people, or does it? I mean, is it so wrong to support a black woman simply because she’s black? Tariq Nasheed begs to differ. Who is Tariq Nasheed, you wonder? My guess is as good as yours, but what I do know is that he’s the “Anti-Racism Strategist” whose tweets grabbed my attention. Nasheed, like many “African – AMERICANS“, are proud of their country and rightfully so. However, as someone who claims to be an “Anti-Racism Strategist”, the thoughts he expressed about Sen. Harris and her father (Jamaican by birth) were quite shocking to me. He tweeted.
Gobsmacked! Nasheed seems to not be the full ticket. I couldn’t care less if he disagreed with her political views (he obviously does) but to say because she has immigrant parents, she has no idea what it means to be a native Black American is the most headass crap I’ve come across so far this year. (Yes, I used “headass” so people like Nasheed can understand. After all, it’s used among native Black Americans, right?) Not only was he attacking a black woman’s blackness, he was attacking her authenticity as an American citizen because of who her parents are. Sounds familiar? He even went further to say she is akin to Barack Obama, in that both his parents were also immigrants so that somehow disqualified him from being a true representative of blackness, in America. Am I the only one who sees how stupid this supposed Yale University graduate is? Anyone with eyes can see Sen. Harris is a black woman. Does she need to walk around with a badge stating the obvious? Did she and does she not have to face the same struggles as any black woman, today? Nasheed would have you believe that because her obvious slave ancestors were not on American soil, that somehow eliminates whatever trauma that is said to be embedded in our DNA.
If Nasheed took the time to read beyond American published history, he’d know that of the enslaved Africans that were forcibly brought to the New World, majority were in Jamaica. Does he want to compare whose ancestors struggled more during slavery? Weren’t the same revolting acts that were committed on US soil during all those years of slavery, also meted out in the Caribbean? Like I said, headass!
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard such sentiments from native Black Americans (what a ridiculous term). Since social media has made it easier for opinions to be shared, more and more tomfoolery pop up from every corner. As an active Twitter user, I always find the conversations amusing when scrolling through the timeline. A lot of African Americans seem to think they are the face off all things black and disregard any other black experience. They are, after all, living in the great United States of America. So, although I was taken aback by Nasheed’s idiocy, I wasn’t too surprised. I thought for sure he would stop at that one tweet but that was my own naivety. Tariq Nasheed was simply flexing his muscles for the big show. One user responded to Nasheed by stating he too had immigrant parents (from Sierra Leone) and like Sen. Harris, he was born and raised in America. He asked Nasheed if that makes him less of a native Black America. The headass-ness continued. Based on Nasheed’s argument, Black immigrants are welcomed as long as they fall in line with the native Black American culture. Does this sound familiar to you? If not, let me state bluntly that this is the same sentiment echoed by many white people when it comes to immigration, a notion not unique to America. It can be deduced by Nasheed’s reasoning that he’s one of those people who claim to be pro-immigration, as long as immigrants fall in line. This so laughable, especially coming from a black man. Aren’t native Black Americans constantly being told that they need to fall in line with mainstream American culture? Don’t native Black Americans have to fight to keep what’s theirs sacred and not appropriated by other people (so they claim)? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, then how is this black man asking other black people to lose part of who they are, simply because they changed their address? Headass! How did he expect other black ancestors to be fighting for American slaves when they were fighting for their own freedoms in the countries they were dropped off? Where’s the logic? Does he not realize that the main (only) difference between all our enslaved Black ancestors is geography? He won’t acknowledge that because he has that American privilege. To do so would mean admitting he was wrong, admitting that there was never any competition between which sets of slaves in the Atlantic World endured the worst treatment. If anything, after slavery ended, and even though the freed slaves in America weren’t given a fair start, their descendants have been benefiting from how America has positioned herself throughout the years (debatable).
Again, he had his mindless followers giving their illogical bits which only stroked his massive ego. Since he was still on his troll roll, he dug up a video of Donald Harris, Sen. Harris’ dad, to further drum up doubt about who she is. Here’s what he had to say about Mr. Harris.
Here he went on to say that Sen. Harris never identified herself as black. At this point I feel like he’s really grasping for straws to quench his thirst but he should opt for a fire hose because someone is dehydrated. Nasheed probably considers himself anti-Hollywood as well but here he is claiming Mr. Harris doesn’t sound Jamaican – Jamaican. He thought he was on a roll with this one because he used the pronoun “my” as if to say we share some bond. I mean, isn’t he a native Black American? When did we become his people? As a Jamaican, I would like someone who is Jamaican – Jamaican to step forward so I can see what they look like and hear what they sound like. The world seems to be of the view that all Jamaicans have one complexion, walk and talk alike as well as display the same mannerisms. It’s like expecting all Americans to look the same and talk the same; something that couldn’t be further from reality. Jamaica, like the United States of America, is multiracial and multicultural. We do not walk around claiming to be whatever ethnicity or race affixed to our nationality. We are all Jamaicans. Our motto says it all, Out of Many, One People.
To expect Jamaicans to sound like the manufactured accent, the same Americans have put out to the masses, makes Nasheed no better than the very bigoted/racist people he claims to be fighting against. It also puts him right in the same category as those who are anti-immigration, given his view on Sen. Harris. The American Constitution makes it clear that all those born in the country are citizens and are eligible to run for President. Like I stated, it’s neither here nor there to me who the President of the United States of America is. He/She just needs to do a good job in representing the people. There isn’t a provision for only native (insert race/ethnicity here) American. If there was one, only the true Natives of the land would qualify.
Like the punk and fraud Nasheed is, he deleted many of his tweets and came up with this defence.
Did he get bored or did he not want traces of his falseness left on the internet? I, too, have also been told that I do not sound Jamaican which is something I usually brush off. When a rebuttal is given, they draw for the “you don’t sound like the people from Kool Runnings“. I know I don’t and neither does anyone else in Jamaica. I’m sure many Black Americans have been told they do not sound black either and undoubtedly Nasheed will be at the front, leading the charge against such ignorance. Black people everywhere face too many types of oppression for a black man with an obvious West Asian family name, to think he, like many Black Americans, should decide who is black enough and when they can refer themselves as such. That was a thing limited to colonial masters and that he isn’t.