The “A” Word

ImageFor my Activism Project, I chose to partner up with a friend and classmate to do an awareness campaign on the potentially hurtful meanings behind the derogatory term Akata, which in the Nigerian language of Yoruba means a wild animal. This term is used my many Nigerians and West Africans as a derogatory term to describe African-Americans. Many African parents especially those who immigrated to the United States late in their adult hood are clouded by the stereotypical depiction of African-Americans in the media. Many teach their children from an early age not to befriend an “Akata” person for they are “no good”, many even disapprove of their children relationships with them especially romantically. My partner and I saw this term as a very distasting term, which encouraged ethnocentrism at the cost of respect for African-Americans. Our goal for this project was to spread awareness of the painstaking use of this word. Our initial plan for combating this issue was to create a tumblr page online to advocate our cause but throughout the course of creating, we saw and felt as though it was not effective, it was not like the picture we had painted in our minds (we were inspired by the I am Harvard Project) and we got around to making the tumblr page, we had nothing to post. Our time schedules also restricted us from meeting and doing what we had envisioned. Luckily, we were able to conceive an alternative that we believe is actually much easier and more effective than the first. Through the help of Kate Watson from the Academic Center for Student Athletes, we were able to print and photocopy and over 200 copies in which we distributed at some of the African Student organizations that we knew around Baltimore. We distributed the flyers at of course UMBC’s African Student Association meeting, the University of Baltimore’s African Student Union, Morgan States International Students Association, CCBC’s African Student Association and at Towson University’s International Diaspora Club. Although we were not able to attend every schools meeting to inform and distribute, we were able to get our flyers to members of their executive board who took up the responsibilities of sharing the information with their members and school. The distribution of this flyer led to the hosting of an open discussion by the Black Student Union and the African Student Union at the University of Baltimore titled Bridging the Gap: Do you consider yourself African-American, African or Black. This event was very encouraging for both my partner and I, although we were not able to attend, we knew that we were happy to have actually captivated enough attention from people to actually think about doing something like this. Other than from the University of Baltimore, we actually haven’t heard much from any of the other schools but overall, although neither my partner nor I know whether out little flyers have changed people’s opinions, views or feelings towards using the term “Akata” we do believe that our activism project has been successful. Our project is not complete yet, Fest-Africa 2014 is coming up in July and since my partner and I are officially out of school, we will hopefully be able to attend and make efforts to advocate our cause. From participating in this activism project, one thing I have learned is to be open to changing directions. When my partner and I first carved up the idea of the social network advocacy, we were very excited and saw it as just the perfect medium but when we that this medium was not as suitable as we thought, we moved on to a simpler means which I personally believe will do and spread awareness quicker than our tumblr page.

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