Pre-slave Trade and Pre-colonial Africa in the Historical Consciousness of African-Americans and African Migrants in the USA
African-Americans, who are descendants of slaves forcibly brought from Africa to America hundreds of years ago, and contemporary voluntary African migrants to the USA do not form a single ‘black community’. This statement contradicts the claims of many Black Nationalist movements from the nineteenth century onwards, which argued that all black people are ‘brothers and sisters’ because they share common spirituality and have a common cause that demands their joint action all around the world. However, based on evidence collected in seven states in 2013–2015, African-Americans and contemporary African migrants appear to have different historic memories of pre-slave trade and pre-colonial Africa. Furthermore, the two groups identify different events as key to its history. Many members of both groups do not feel that they share a common ‘black history’. To some extent, the idea of a shared history acts to unite Africans and African-Americans as victims of long-lasting white domination. However, in the final analysis, the collective historic memory of both groups works more to separate them from each other by generating and supporting
contradictory or even negative images of mutual perception. In general, the relations between African-Americans and recent African migrants are characterized by simultaneous mutual attraction and repulsion of two magnets. While they understand that among all ethno-racial communities in the country, they, as well as African Caribbeans, are the closest to each other, myriads of differences cause mutual repulsion. This attraction–repulsion effect is, in significant part, due to the differences in historic memory of African-Americans and recent African migrants in the USA.