When our ancestors were stolen from Africa, Africa was taken from us. By design and with intention, enslavers stripped away our African identity, from our languages to our customs and traditions, and even our faith. AfricanAncestry.com co-founder and CEO, Dr. Gina Paige, calls this emptiness the Africa Void. It is the hollow state of being without knowledge of or connection to Africa. The outcomes of the Africa Void have been devastating. It is, arguably, the cause of most of the mental, physical, and sociological traumas that we experience/suffer even today.
We have identified five ways the Africa Void manifests in our lives, our families and our communities:
1. Black family values have been dismantled:
The breakdown of Black families is perhaps the most traumatic outcome of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and a powerful example of the Africa Void. Our families were physically torn apart and as a result, our family traditions, ideals and ways of functioning within African communities were erased on plantations across the Diaspora. These disruptions from generations ago still have an impact on the Black family today.
2. Black beauty is not celebrated:
During slavery, our ancestors with lighter skin were treated differently than those with darker skin. This created division within our communities and caused us to turn against each other. We have internalized skin color bias into our community consciousness, which has hindered our ability to love each other and ourselves. Many of us still don’t embrace an African-centric standard of beauty and treat one another differently based on skin color.
3. Achievement across the African Diaspora is ignored:
Students won’t develop positive cultural identities without culturally relevant education. Our children are educated in schools that value the European ancestry of their classmates while discounting their own African ancestry. Without at-home supplementation, Black children can grow up without a full understanding of the authentic histories and contributions of African societies and culture. Knowing the truth about Africa nourishes the identities of Black children and motivates their success.
4. Africa is unknown and undesirable:
Because African contributions are ignored, many of us do not know about the greatness of our Motherland. For example, people don’t realize Africa is a continent with over 50 countries where thousands of languages are spoken. People do not understand that Africa influenced everything from math to architecture to philosophy to law to astronomy and beyond. People don’t know that human life started in Africa. Because we don’t know, we don’t want to be associated with or connected to Africa.
5. Spiritual connection is absent:
The spiritual practices of our ancestors were left on the shores of Africa, forgotten, or forbidden. As a result, we are disconnected from the very spirituality that can support our emotional and psychological well-being. The dehumanization, discrimination, devaluation and demonization of our ancestors caused psychological distress and generational trauma that still has an impact. Because of the Africa Void, we don’t have the spiritual tools from our ancestors we need to thrive in an environment intended for our destruction.
The Africa Void is deep, but it can be filled by knowing the truth about who you really are. AfricanAncestry.com is committed to filling the Africa Void for Black people across the Diaspora through genetic ancestry tracing. With an African Ancestry DNA test, you can learn the specific country and ethnic group of your ancestors.
This information about your identity will inspire you to learn about the contributions, traditions and accomplishments of your ancestors, which will help you guide your children’s supplemental education and make you proud about being of African descent. When you can see your face in the faces of individuals with whom you share ancestry, you will see a beauty worthy of love and celebration. The more you learn, the stronger the connection and in time, the Africa Void will be gloriously filled.