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Being a black American!
by kathysmith at 8/21/2017 9:49:53 AM
A testimony from a friend
I've been to 27 different countries for my work. Everytime I get home I count my blessings. I can concour the story as i have witnessed the same.
There is no such thing as an "African American!" Just because you are black does not make you any African. You are either an American, or you are not an American. That is based entirely on whether you are a patriotic citizen, or not, and has nothing at all to do with race, or skin color.
However, about ten years ago I worked in Africa for a major American oil company.[Sub-contractor building oil rigs offshore for BP] My citizenship is proudly American. Since I was living in Africa; while I was there, I was, at least for a while, an American-African.
Being an American-African, as you may guess, has nothing at all to do with my race. I am white, but the black Americans working with me in Africa, were also American-Africans while we were there.
I flew on Air France, from Houston, Texas, to Paris, France; spent the night in Paris, and flew on to Milabo, Equatorial Guinea, Africa.
About ten years ago there was a big oil discovery in the Gulf of Guinea, which is on the west coast of Africa, just above the Equator. We were building a bunch of brand new oil drilling platforms on the continental shelf about twenty miles out.
I got sick while I was there. The company sent a helicopter and flew me to a big hospital in Libreville, the capitol of Gabon - the next country to the south. The Equator runs right through Gabon.
I spent ten days in the hospital there. After the second day, when they pulled all the IVs out of my arm, I was basically well, but nobody was communicating with me. They speak French in Gabon and I do not. So we did a lot of smiling and pantomime, while having no clue what each other were saying.
I was bored. The black & white 19" TV in my room got three channels, all in French. I put on my street clothes and decided to use the hospital like a hotel.
I smiled and waved at the staff in the lobby as I walked out the front door. I assumed someone would give me a good a** chewing when I got back. But having been an old Army NCO, my plan was to just play dumb & take my medicine. I learned to deal with bureaucracy years ago. It is always easier to get forgiveness, than permission.
Surprisingly, nobody seemed to care! I never got that anticipated a** chewing. As I said, my hospital became my "hotel" and I came & went as I pleased, usually returning for three free meals a day.
Gabon, a former French colony, was granted independence in 1960. There is a beautiful horseshoe shaped bay there with several miles of very nice sandy beaches. There are wide boulevards with 200 year old trees growing in the esplanades. Libreville had clearly been a showplace before 1960.
In some ways it reminded me of another great French city I had once lived in for a year... Saigon. Only Saigon was cleaner and nobody was trying to kill me in Libreville.
It was also clear, nobody had fixed a pothole, whitewashed a tree, painted a building, fixed a broken window, or repaired a rotting window screen, since May of 1960. Typical of third world countries I have visited in parts of Latin America and the Caribbean; there were open sewers running beside most major roads in the city.
The people were very friendly and there was no racism at all directed against me. In fact, I was something of a curiosity. Small crowds formed around me everywhere I went. These were people who just came to see the white man, almost as if I was the bearded lady in a circus tent.
One hundred percent of the people who could speak any English, asked me if i would give them a job? The unemployment rate appeared to be about 70%! I would calmly explain that I was just working for an oil company and I had no ability to give anyone a job.
The next question - asked sincerely and in a pleading voice - "Then will you take me back to England with you?"
They assumed all white men were from England. I would once again, carefully explain, I am an American. At that time I had never even visited England. I explained laws, both in Gabon, and the United States, would not allow me to just bring someone home with me from Africa.
Many people desperate to get out of Africa, would beg me. They promised to do ANYTHING for me in America, if I would only take them with me. It was actually embarrassing. Would I adopt them? Why couldn't they be my servants for life if I had no jobs for them? They were willing to sleep in my front yard if I did not want them in my house!
The countryside was beautiful. I took along my old 35 MM film camera and shot probably ten rolls of pictures in Africa. The people were friendly, but very poor and about half of them did not own shoes. I was just struck by the abject poverty of these people and this capital city.
It was much worse than anything I have ever seen in my travels through Mexico, Vietnam, Korea, Latin America, or the Caribbean. Appalachia is a rich man's resort in comparison.
I had genuine compassion for these people and it actually bothered me there was basically nothing I could do to help any of them.
Imagine my surprise, when I got back to the USA, did some Internet research, and found Gabon was one of the wealthiest nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and immigrants came regularly from six adjacent African countries to escape worse poverty in those places!
WISDOM FROM A FORMER AMERICAN-AFRICAN (me):
Get down on your knees and thank the Creator of the universe that you were born in the USA.
If you are a black American, spend some extra time on your knees thanking the Almighty for the gift of slavery to your ancestors! Without the benefit of the miracle of slavery, you too could be living homeless, jobless, with no shoes, and not enough food to eat... in a country with no food stamps, SSI, subsidized housing, medicaid, or any of the other so called "safety net" programs in the USA. If you have never lived in Africa, you have never seen any real poor people and you are not in poverty.
Did I mention, most folks walked everywhere they went? Did I mention there were no land line telephones, vending machines, or computers, in the Hospital? Did I mention nobody I met in Africa had a cell phone, not even the doctors?
Finally, if you think this is the least bit "racist" unfriend me, and get your sorry a** over to Africa. You WILL apologize to me when you get back to the USA... right after you kiss the ground and thank God you live in the one country in the world where Donald J. Trump is president of the United states!