Audiophile Life

Records. Concert Photography. Food. NYC. Nigeria. Africa. African Diaspora.


Zanerobe : Styled by Street Etiquette 001 - L.A 

About two weeks we went on the road with our Aussie brothers, Zanerobe most notable for their sureshot pants (joggers) with a super laid back style between casual and formal. We traveled from LA, Portland and finally Seattle on a three city shoot with clothes from their monochrome collection   

Photography by Christopher Parsons

03-06-13 asked: We talked about the division of Africans and black Americans in my social work class today, in your opinion what do you think causes these division between these two groups who should help support and build each other up. Thanks.

It comes from a lack of understanding on both sides. It’s largely ignorance of where people are coming from. The images given and portrayed shape perceptions. We also largely don’t know each other or our histories.

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but what I can do is give you anecdotes from what I have seen and experienced, particularly in school. This might be a little long, but read it in its entirety.

Many Africans tend to think that success is all about meritocracy and determination. They believe if you work hard and go to school, then the sky is the limit. They simply don’t understand the system and how it works. There is no course of study for African immigrants on things like redlining, predatory lending, the prison industrial complex and other things put in place to curtail Black progress. There is no course of study on the systemic oppression of Black people in America, so they are arriving here not knowing a lick of that. They are coming with a blank slate when it comes to Black American history and identity. If we are honestly speaking, that could be said about most Americans as well. The plight of Black people in US history is deliberately omitted, so for the African who comes here to go to school for instance, they tend to generalize and can’t fathom why Black Americans are not prospering in this supposed land of freedom, milk and honey.

Many Africans will then use themselves as a barometer, because after all, they left their country and went to school in the US and made something of themselves. In that comparison, they are failing to realize that the only reason they are able to attend these schools and have these prestigious jobs in the first place is because Black Americans fought, bled and died for it. Not to mention that if a white employer had to hire a Black person and there were two Black candidates, and one is let’s say a Nigerian, while the other is Black American, the employer would probably hire the Nigerian over the Black American. I know they would. Many white Americans are more comfortable around Black immigrants than Black Americans. I know this. Ask any African with white friends, and they will probably tell you that one of their white friends has said something along the lines of “You’re not like Black people” or “Why can’t the Black people here be more like you?”. They get to have Black friends without any white guilt or the “race card” business.

Black Africans come from racially homogeneous countries, so they aren’t really race conscious. They have no real reason to be. It only becomes an issue when they go abroad, especially in the US. This is something many Black Americans need to understand first. The concept of Blackness is a unique thing here. No one identifies themselves that way in Africa. You identify by ethnicity, so you are Igbo, Yoruba, Luo, Akan, Bambara, Mande etc. You don’t go around saying “I’m Black” when someone asks about you or when you tell people who you are. The problem lies when Americans think this description is a universal one, and not one applicable to the West, the US in particular. What kind of identity would “Black” be in Ghana? That’s basically the entire indigenous population, but everyone there isn’t the same, hence you identify by ethnic group. This lack of understanding has made some Black Americans think Africans “don’t want to be Black”, when it’s not that at all. It simply isn’t a way to identify yourself. This is a western, and primarily a US identity marker. Now, I self ID as Black, because I am, and I am in the US. However, If I lived all my life in Nigeria, I would be Andoni/Obolo and Igbo first. Different places, different contexts.

On the other side, some African Americans view Africans very negatively. This cannot be denied. I bore witness to it for years. It’s hip to be African now, but it wasn’t always this way. We’re all dancing to old hits from Fela and new hits from Wizkid and whatever Don Jazzy serves up, but this type of environment didn’t exist in the 90s when I was growing up. You’d get laughed at for listening to things like Fela back then. You can forget about wearing African print. When the Chibok girls got kidnapped, there were many “Rock a Gele” and “Rock a Crown” rallies. In 1995, a public gathering of young African women in headwraps and geles would not have happened. No young African girl/woman in her teens and twenties would be rocking her gele with that kind of audacity, many of them would be too ashamed to do it outside of African events. African kids weren’t wearing African prints and ankara fashions to school. No way. They wanted to blend in, not be themselves. The last thing they wanted to be was themselves, and that was because they were forced to believe that who they were was not a good thing to be. Their culture and existence was maligned.

It’s not so bad now (or perhaps I’m unaware or because I’m an adult and not a kid in school), but growing up in the 90s was a very different space compared to now. In a sense I was shielded as a student athlete, so I never really got shit and no one really bothered me, well because they didn’t really have the guts to give me shit and they valued their well being because I wouldn’t have hesitated to knock them into next week and I had done it before, so there was that. Other than a few questions during lunchtime about the food I would sometimes bring, that was really it. I wasn’t a big fan of cold bologna sandwiches, sloppie joes, cold fries and whatever nonsense they fed us for school lunch. Why would I eat that when I could bring fresh jollof rice and chicken my mama made? Cold slop at school or fresh food made with love from home? It wasn’t a difficult decision to make. Early on, some tried to make fun of my food, which was bizarre. I mean, I’m here eating warm jollof rice and roasted chicken, you’re eating a cold bologna sandwich on wonder bread. Why someone would I’m the loser for eating good food was beyond me, but I didn’t give a shit. I kept eating my food. After a while, everyone realized that I didn’t care. When you don’t care, it sort of disarms people. Shit, my body was battered from football practice and the weightroom, you think I’ll be self-conscious about eating jollof, plantains and chicken? Shit, I needed the fuel. I was the guy licking his fingers and chewing chicken bones in the lunchroom. People would ask why I ate chicken down the bone. I said because it was delicious. They later even asked to try some of my food. This one girl would sit next to me all the time and ask for some of my “exotic rice”…lol. I learned not to give a shit early on and I preferred Nigerian food. People got the hint.

Sadly, I can’t say the rest of the African kids had it easy like I did. They got teased, bullied, beaten and tormented unmercifully for literally existing and being publicly African. This is no hyperbole, I mean that. It was everyday. I knew kids who came home crying because they hated their names and were tormented for it. They all tried to downplay their “Africaness” just to survive. My friend Chinedu went by “Chinz” and his brother Emeka became “Mega”. Chinedu wanted so badly to divorce himself from all things Nigerian and African. He just wanted to blend in. He was a skinny, studious guy, so there was no respite for him in athletics.

While white kids might say a thing or two, the people harassing him and other African kids daily sad to say were fellow Black kids. It was non-stop. Snide remarks like “African Booty Scratcher” to things like go back to Africa to calling them monkey, nappy head (when they had the exact same hair and went to the same barbers!), dark skin, crispy black, burnt, asking if they swing from trees and lived with wild animals, if they lived in a house and just overall fucked up things were normal. I defended the little kids on the bus, but I couldn’t be everywhere at all times. This harsh treatment really messed up the minds of many African kids and it’s not something you can get over when it happens everyday for years. Not to mention they perhaps weren’t rocking the freshest clothes, because fly gear is not a priority for African parents. Sadly for them, not looking “fresh to death” in high school back then was basically a crime and it drew even more attention to their way. So here they were, the “African booty Scratcher” with a weird name, wearing high water pants and played out sneakers. Maybe one day they were rushing to school and didn’t put on enough lotion and they were a little ashy. They would be finished that day. They had a bullseye on their heads and there was no escape.

This fucked with their identities, where they fit in with everyone else and how they communicated. They were made to feel ashamed for who they were. They were also ashamed to be seen with their parents, especially during parent teacher conference day, because their parents likely spoke with heavy accents or would sometimes wear traditional clothes, something that under normal circumstances would be proud of, but their “Africaness” had been so maligned, they wanted nothing to do with it, so a parent wearing traditional clothing, speaking with an accent brought shame. 

Now, we are all grown up, and I still keep in touch with some of them. They are coming to terms and learning to accept their African identities which is good. “Chinz” is now Chinedu again. He’s happily married to a fellow Igbo woman and his brother “Mega” is Emeka again. In a perfect world, what happened in school should be old news, but the world is not perfect. How they were treated has shaped their world view and perceptions on not just Americans, but Black Americans. When you get treated like shit everyday for many years, it’s going to have an impact on you. It can also make you not relate to the people who you feel “wronged you” or you might not feel empathetic to outright injustice because you have separated yourself from them. i.e. When something bad happens, they can rationalize and say “It happens to a Black Americans. It doesn’t happen to us. It’s not my problem.”. Some might even think theyre a better person after a while because they’ve made something of themselves and most of the Black kids who tormented them are not in the same station of life they’re in. In their minds, it’s the “revenge of the African booty scratcher”.

I try to facilitate and help people let go of the past, but I’m not Iyanla and I can’t fix your problems. It’s also easy for me to tell someone who has been hurt to let go of the past. I don’t know their pain. So I don’t tell people this. I just listen. Maybe try to educate them about things if they’re receptive to that and let the chips fall where they fall.

Anyway, this is long enough.

tl;dr - I’m not sure if this fully answers your question, but as to why there is a division, it’s because we don’t know each other’s plight. Many of us are ignorant about pertinent things in history that shaped African and African Diaspora societies, and most of all, many of us have imbibed white supremacist stereotypes and images about each other. An African does not get the idea that Black Americans are criminals out of thin air, and a Black American does not get the idea that Africans live in jungles from no where. Those are hard coded perceptions and stereotypes that we did not create, but many of us believe.

If it’s any solace, Africans have divisions among themselves too…lol

mwelwa123 asked: Maybe my reading skills are not up to par, but did I just read that Obama has just sent over 3,000 troops to west Africa because of this Ebola outbreak?!😳 forgive me for saying, but What would military troops know about combating the Ebola outbreak? (Had he sent doctors/ nurses it would have made much sense).... But 3,000 troops?! Am I the only one concerned about how HIGH that number is? And the lack of media coverage is quiet strange/ suspicious. I don't know, maybe am just paranoid!? 😐

I read the same thing as well. To be fair, there has been media coverage on it. At least, I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage on it. Funny thing, owning-my-truth just texted me this morning about it. We’re all concerned.

ijustmakepizzapies asked: Did you ever hear Babatunde Olatunji's late 80s album "Drums of Passion: The Invocation"? I'm a bit wary of the digital recording techniques on that one. I feel that Rykodisc version loses some of the hard-hitting analog thump of the original '59 recording. Then again, the clinical multi-track approach feels a bit more spacious. What's your take? PS How's your luck been with SACDs lately?

It’s fine. Audiophiles worry too much about stuff like this and lose sight of the music.

Re: SACDs, that ship sailed a long time ago. I wrote about SACD a few years ago. Read it here. A well mastered SACD sounds good, but the market for that (old white audiophiles primarily) is only interested in warhorse titles or stuff that is already available and is constantly being reissued. I have no interest in SACD anymore. As I’m not the target demographic for audiophilia, the things I want to hear never make the cut. The few things I do like that do make it are things I already own. I can’t keep buying the same Blue Note, Impulse etc titles I already own on vinyl.




90s Black Sitcoms, Ranked

The Cosby Show, what has long been considered the greatest black sitcom of all time, celebrates its 30th anniversary in two weeks. That the show’s legendary run is marked by a return to a more diverse television landscape this fall seems fitting: NBC, ABC, and FOX, along with other networks, will debut a variety of shows that cast minority actors in lead roles (several are women of color). This push for more nuanced programming brings to mind the 1990s, a decade known for its rich portrayal of black life through shows like Living Single and Roc. Here, a completely indisputable ranking of black sitcoms that aired between 1990 and 1999.

See the rest of the list here.

😩 I’m crying

This means a lot


Protesters from across St Louis turned up and turned out for the first St Louis County Council Meeting since Mike Brown’s Death. (Part IV)

And now for the side show… the STL County Council/police fail at being empathetic, and tone deaf white people are tone deaf (and white). #staywoke #farfromover


This is one of the most insulting things that I have ever seen, it makes me so mad I actually want to cry. I can’t believe magazines think that they can just dip a woman in brown paint, give her clothes from my culture to put on for a couple hours and then have audacity to call her an “African Queen”. Growing up I heard every joke about Africans and saw the negative stereotypes portrayed by the media that tried to make me feel so bad about where I come from. Yet Ive noticed when fashion magazine want to do spreads portraying poise and exoticness they often turn to Africa ( and many other foreign continents/nations) proving time and again that Africa is more than the negative images you see in the media)  but this time, to try and take parts of my beautiful culture just to have white women play the role of an “African Queen” proves that beauty cannot be seen in our countries/cultures unless it is represented by White people. 

Anonymous asked: I am sorry you feel that way about English. English is a simplified language that helps you communicate with the world. It has spread because it has become increasingly simplified and is easy to learn. Your rants can be mistaken for racism and hate. Africans have done as much to oppress their own people as thew white clan I belong to. The world is becoming a big global community and if you think like you do you will not move forward. The only constant is change.


RE: What’s in a Name?

"The white clan I belong to".

“We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave.

– A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression. (via dialecticsof)

Three Black Professional Women Say Staff at Exclusive NYC Hotel Accused Them of Being Hookers »