Relations between Black Americans and African immigrants have always been rocky in the United States. The trend of trying fufu, a traditional African dish, has highlighted this rockiness. The negative response to the food from Black Americans unleashed the deep-rooted issues that African immigrants have often had with Black Americans and vice versa.
The issues between surrounding the diaspora of Black people are rooted in the classification of race and the negative connotations that go along with it. As stated by Benjamin Aigbe Okonofua in his article “I Am Blacker Than You," "African immigrants are questioning their racial categorization as Black, which they see as a metonymic device for the inferior position of African Americans relative to Whites.” Some African immigrants see themselves as separate from Black Americans as a way to distance themselves from the negative connotations as well as the added discrimination they face. Race, to both African immigrants and Black Americans, is framed by its relation to white people.
In the United States, most Black people have experienced some form of oppression at the hands of white people, but in Africa, race classifications are different. African immigrants don’t usually see themselves as united by race, and certainly not by their shared oppression, so they separate themselves from racial classifications. This separation is what led to the conflict between Black Americans and African immigrants. Black Americans and African immigrants are truly disconnected in a multitude of ways, aside from race.
This conflict relates to the TikTok ‘fufu trend' in a particular way. Fufu was the latest food trend this month on TikTok. Many people of all races, especially Black Americans, were keen on trying the African dish. Even in the midst of positive responses, there were many negative ones — ranging from overdramatic gagging to simply throwing away the food. Many, if not most, of these negative responses came from Black Americans, who can trace their lineage to the same countries where fufu is a staple food. The negative responses have ignited anti-Black American rhetoric from African immigrants.
There has been name calling on both sides, all over a simple food trend going wrong. Odoba Okwuosa, a first year biology student at LMU, is a first generation Nigerian American who has personally seen how this trend has affected her and her community.
“It is pretty nice to see people get excited over something I wouldn’t think twice about, especially something so common like fufu," Okwuosa stated. She continued, “The issue started when it felt as though people were being deliberately disrespectful."
Many other African immigrants in the United States feel the same way. This simple trend has highlighted to them that there is a large disconnect within the Black community. Okwuosa also believes that “Fufu has been used as an excuse during this time. I feel that the negative reactions that were inherently disrespectful hurt not only members of the African community, but Black Americans as well. Some people were genuinely trying to establish a connection to Africa, and it was turned into a fight.”
Despite historic conflict between Black Americans and Africans, we shouldn’t let a simple food trend distract us from the fact that we are all Black at the end of the day. There was aggression from both sides, and that needs to change. Embracing each other’s culture, without disrespect, is the first step to Black unity.
This is the opinion of Aker Ajak, a freshman political science major from Omaha, Nebraska. Email comments to email@example.com. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.