Monday, July 14, 2008

Ethiopians Are Proud To Be Black

As I was surfing on the world wide net, I just came across with an article on Time in its issue of Monday, 9th of January 1928. I was shocked and disgusted by the content of the article I read under the title "To Ethiopia". The gist of the article centers around a controversy as to why a certain Addison E. Southard, a white man from Kentucky, must be appointed to be a diplomat in the rank of a Minister to Ethiopia instead of a black man. I was shocked by the gross misunderstanding of the true identity of Ethiopians not only by the whites, but also by a few black colleagues whose acquaintance I have had in the few years I have spent with them both as a teacher and student. So I have taken it upon myself to tell the truth about our identity: that we Ethiopians are black and proud to be black; that we do not also need any patronization either from the whites nor from the blacks.

In an attempt to justify why a white man should be appointed to Ethiopia, the article says that "Despite their name, the Ethiopians do not consider themselves racially homogeneous with aboriginal Africa." It goes on to assert that "Color varies In Ethiopia, from a pale olive among the northern inhabitants, through deep brown in the central part of the Kingdom to chocolate tints and true black in the farthest south. Ras Taffari, prince regent, is a black southerner but of the special superior blackness of the province of Shoa. Slim, short, wiry, Prince Ras Taffari considers himself super-Negroid." This is totally a racist statement that does not portray the Ethiopian psyche/mentality as we know it.

A further explanation given in the same article is that "Prince Ras Taffari is of a turn of mind no less inquiring than Rasselas. He would...desire as envoy from any other state, a representative of that state's dominant race. Ras Taffari would want to learn about China from a Chinaman, not a white man; about India from a Hindu, not an Anglo-Saxon; about the U. S. from a Caucasian, not a Negro." This, for me, is uncharacteristic of neither the Ethiopian polity nor the crown prince, rather something typical of the American psyche at the time. If the US found it right not to send a black diplomat to Ethiopia, it was precisely because the US was a racist state adhering to racism and racial classification not only in its domestic public life but also in its international affairs.

Alemayehu Fentaw
Stadtschlaining, Austria

To read the Time article follow this link:,9171,881706,00.html?promoid=googlep


Rishita said...

In fact, I would suggest that to learn about India; you ask a non-Hindu.

That is quite a shocking article, I must say. It is unrepresentative of the Ethiopians and plays up to stereotypes.


Jessica said...

This article is crazy, of course, but please note the date is 1928 - a very different racial situation than now. In 1928, blacks didn't have a lot of rights in the US and would have few opportunities to hold major government positions. Also, there were still a lot of people making stupid comments like the ones mentioned here. Although we still have racial issues in the US, I have to hope this wouldn't happen today (and for sure, if it did, that guy would be fired).

Anonymous said...

Well, I understand what you're saying but i also think its sort of BS many Ethiopians reject blackness and say they are not black and look down upon us