TheGrio Daily

Frequently asked white questions: Why don’t you go back to Africa?

Episode 102

“We ain’t gonna give this country away after we built it.” As Michael Harriot answers one of the questions he’s asked most often, he explains that America would be unrecognizable if Black people returned to Africa. Insisting, if Black people leave, they should take with them all the knowledge they’ve been forced to give America for free. 


[00:00:05] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. Black Culture Amplified. 

Michael Harriot [00:00:11] Have you ever been asked to go back to Africa? Now it might not have come out, you know, quite as harsh as that. Maybe they asked you if you have so much problems with this country, why don’t you leave it or why don’t you support the ideas of America or, you know, you know, they might just chant at you like they chanted at Ilhan Omar. You know, everybody, if you’re Black, has been asked this question, you know, America, love it or leave it. So I want to welcome you to theGrio Daily. Well, we’re going to answer one of the most frequently asked white questions. Why don’t Black people go back to Africa? Yeah, man. Like, so, you know, sometimes this question comes in an email from a coward who just says, Go back to Africa. You know, usually they used a pronoun to describe us. You people or your people. Why don’t your people go back to Africa? Like, I don’t know who my people is. Maybe it’s my family or just all the Black people or just, you know, dudes who don’t like, you know, white supremacy. I don’t know who my people are in that context. So, you know, but I do want to ask so that question, because it’s so often it must be something that white people think about all of the time. Why don’t Black people go back to Africa? Hmm, that’s a good question. 

Michael Harriot [00:01:57] So, first of all, when you say Africa, what do you mean? Like, do you mean the place that we were stolen from? Because, like a lot of us don’t know. Right. Like, y’all didn’t like white people weren’t really good at keeping receipts or, you know, shipping records. Like, you know, if you would give me, like, our tracking numbers, then, you know, a lot of us might go back to Africa. But a lot of times, you know how this world works, man. If. If after a certain time, you just can’t return things, right? Like, I think at Walmart is 90 days. Some places is 60 days, some places it’s a month. I don’t know if the place called Africa has a return policy of 400 years. If it does, you know, kudos to them. And the other thing is like, how are we supposed to get back? Like like we didn’t pay for ourselves to come over? Yeah, like like we walked over here, you know, we got together, got some gas money for the slave ships and then say, yeah, we’re going to, you know, we’re going to stop in Barbados and somewhere in the Caribbean, but then, you know, out end destination is going to be, I don’t know, the Charleston probably, or Virginia. It was one of those two places. Again, I’ll have my tracking number. So I really can’t verify the origin of each of us. 

Michael Harriot [00:03:23] But again, like we didn’t bring ourselves over here. Most of us came over here and voluntarily. So if you really want us to go back there for us, you got to give us some gas money, right? Or at least use your go back to Africa, Mubarak out and, you know, call us or Africa or Uber or maybe you could treat us like you treat people like maybe we wouldn’t complain about all of the inequities in the education system, the criminal justice system, the economic system, the political system, the social system, housing, crime, everything. If you all just treat us equal, maybe we want to stay here, right? Like, you know, here’s another reason why we don’t want to go back to Africa because we built this place, right. Like, would you, you know, remodel your house and then just leave and buy another house and give the old house away? Or would you, like, build something and just give it away? Like, would you create a type program, for instance, and then say, you know what, I spent like generations creating this thing, but I think it should be free to all people. Like nah we ain’t going to give this country away after we built it, after we showed y’all how to create a multiracial democracy, after we showed you all how to raise crops, after we gave all y’all our intellectual property, our art, our music, you know, our history, our our gospel songs, how to clap on beat, like 50 something Super Bowls, almost every NBA championship, some World Series, why we got to go back and let’s all have all of that and say y’all wanted like, y’all get to keep the gold medal too in the Olympics? Do y’all get to keep the we all we’ve got to take the bull that fit all of that fit on to go back to Africa cruise line. Hey, do we get to keep like all of the money that we’ve generated for y’all? Do we get to keep the intellectual property for the music y’all stole, right? Do we get to take back to Africa like our fashion and y’all just gonna wear, like, clogs and, you know, bellbottoms from now on? Do we get to take back all of the stuff that we invented? 

Michael Harriot [00:05:56] So ya’ll can’t have no light bulbs if we go back to Africa because we complain about it. Right? Like, y’all can’t have light bulbs, y’all can’t have computer monitors, the space, the space flight, belongs to us too becuase helped with that. You know, we going to have to erase all of the stuff that we did since we came here to Africa, so we get to keep it. Oh, ya’ll can’t eat no rice. You can’t eat no sweet potato pies, no sweet potato lattes, no pumpkin pie, none of that. No okra, no fried chicken. So we get to take all the profits from like Kentucky Fried Chicken if we go back to Africa. Right. What else can we take back, man? Because I’m trying to I’m not I don’t I’m not being petty or bitter or anything. I’m just trying to figure out, like my packing list because I’m like a lot of big boxes. I’m trying to think of all the stuff that we get to take back. Right? Like all them Grammys, all the Oscars, all of the songs that ya’ll dance too. Like, how do we pack up a dance? But we won’t take them, y’all. Y’all got to do like those line dances that they do on country music television, which we kind of invented because we invented country music. But, you know, ya’ll can’t have country music because we invented the guitar and a banjo. Damn, what ya’ll going to listen to. Like an accordion. But we got to pack up all the music and take with us. So we better not catch our rapping if we go back to Africa. 

Michael Harriot [00:07:19] Or perhaps what y’all can do is leave this to us, like, because we like, it’s so much trouble for us to pack up all of this stuff. Maybe ya’ll can go back to, I don’t know Where ya’ll come from, Whitepeoplestan? Because, you know, like since Africa is a big place, y’all can go back to Europe or whoever y’all come from. But we get to stay. Cause if y’all go back, maybe we won’t hear people complaining about diversity, equity, and equality. Maybe we’ll hear item complaints about Wokeness. Maybe we will hear all those complaints about critical race theory of the history y’all created. Maybe we won’t hear all of those whining about making America great again, or about economic anxiety or about racial resentment or reverse racism. Y’all could take all of that, which is all right. We’ll let ya’ll have it. Like we’ll pay it off for ya’ll, right? We’ll let you all take all of the music. Y’all live in it. We’ll take little I’ll take Poco, We’ll let you have Taylor Swift You can go with y’all will give y’all Elton John and all of The Beatles stuff, even though like they ain’t from America. Take them with ya’ll. We’ll take Outkast, ya’ll keep The Beatles. That’s an even trade. Oh, y’all could take, like the slavery stuff with ya’ll. And then like unequal education or made up history. How about ya’ll take, like herding people into certain spaces, like segregation, like Jim Crow, like reservations, like Hispanic neighborhoods? Y’all could take all of that, which are y’all can take your food, you know, like scones, bagels, English muffins. Take that with ya’ll. All right, Y’all can take all of the stuff that white people have given to America, like the dumb parts of the Constitution, the dumb parts of the laws, like anti-trans laws, anti Black laws, y’all can take all of that. And we’ll just we’ll start from, like, if y’all go, it might hurt us, but we’ll start over. And at the very least, y’all won’t have to hear us worry about anything. 

Michael Harriot [00:09:45] Or we’ll just go back to downloading degree your app. We’ll go back to telling our friends about this podcast. We’ll go back to subscribing on whatever platform you use and we’ll just keep ignoring Frequently Asked White Questions and end every day with a saying from Black America and today saying is to all white people who wonder why we don’t go back to Africa and that saying is, “We don’t want to keep running in and out ya’ll door.” We’ll see you next time on theGrio Daily. 

Speaker 1 [00:10:32] What’s going on, everybody? Panama, Jackson here. And since we’re talking about Africa, allow me to encourage and suggest that you go check out an episode of Dear Culture titled Africa Amplify: From Ghana to New Jersey and Beyond. It’s where I sat down with my wife, who’s from Ghana, and we had an interesting conversation about her journey from moving from Ghana at 11 years old to New Jersey and eventually on to Howard University and setting up organizations here in Washington, D.C., and how all of these different parts of her experience helped impact her identity and helped influence the way that she views even African and African-American relations at this point in her own life. It’s really a fascinating conversation. So I would encourage you to check that out. I really enjoyed the conversation and I think you get something out of it. So let’s get back to theGrio daily, though. Here’s another gem from Michael’s mother, Mama Harriot. 

Dorothy Harriot [00:11:22] This is Dorothy Harriot, mother of Michael Harriot. It’s the same thing Mama told me. One of the things we talked about all the time was that it can be done, if anybody rig it up, my mom can we rig it up. So his mom is rigging this up. So one thing that I remember most always told me when you started a task, to read your directions and know what you’re supposed to do next and that way you can complete the task. Now, what comes to my mind is that the day I tried to tell him how to change a tire on a car, we were in a route from Hartsville, South Carolina to Camden. Had a flat tire and the person that was driving the car was not able to change it. So we were going to let Michael change the tire for his time. He got out and started trying to take the tire off and put the tire on and didn’t know what to do. So I said, “Michael, think about what’s next? Think about what comes next.” And he always said, “Mama, you always tell me that.” That’s right. Think what’s the next step is and then you can complete the task. So he completed the task. He changed the tire, got it off and on perfectly. So that’s one of the first thing that came to my mind about. I told him all the time. He always said, “Mama done told me, Mama done told me.” 

Michael Harriot [00:12:37] If you like what you heard, please give us a five star review. Download theGrio app. Subscribe to the show and share it with everyone you know. Please email all questions, suggestions and compliments to podcast at theGrio dot com. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:56] I’m political scientist, author and professor Dr. Christina Greer, and I’m host of The Blackest Questions on theGrio’s Black Podcast Network. This person invented ranch dressing around 1950. Who are they? 

Marc Lamont Hill [00:13:09] I have no idea. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:10] This all began as an exclusive Black history trivia party at my home in Harlem with family and friends. And they got so popular it seemed only right to the fun with our listeners. Each week we invite a familiar face on the podcast to play. What was the name of the person who was an enslaved chief cook for George Washington and later ran away to freedom? In 1868, this university was the first in the country to open a medical school that welcomed medical students of all races, genders and social classes. What university was it? 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:13:43] This is why I like doing stuff with you, because I leave educated. I was not taught this in Alabama Public Schools. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:50] Question three, you ready? 

Eboni K. Williams [00:13:51] Yes, I’m going to try to redeem myself. 

Amanda Seales [00:13:53] How do we go from Kwanzaa to like these obscure. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:57] Diaspora, darling. Diaspora.

Amanda Seales [00:14:00] This is like the New York Times crossword from a Monday to a Saturday. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:04] Right or wrong. All we care about is the journey and having some fun while we do it. 

Kalen Allen [00:14:08] I’m excited. And also a little nervous. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:11] Oh, listen, no need to be nervous. And as I tell all of my guests, this is an opportunity for us to educate ourselves because Black history is American history. So we’re going to have some fun. Listen, some people get zero out of five. Some people get five out of five, it doesn’t matter. We’re just going to be on a little intellectual journey together. 

Eboni K. Williams [00:14:27] Latoya Cantrell. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:29] That’s right. Mayor Latoya Cantrell. 

Michael Twitty [00:14:31] Hercules Posey. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:33] Hmm. Born in 1754 and he was a member of the Mount Vernon slave community, widely admired for his culinary skills. 

Kalen Allen [00:14:40] I’m going to guess AfroPunk. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:43] Close. It’s AfroNation. According to my research, and Samuel Wilson a.k.a Falcon. 

Jason Johnson [00:14:52] Wrong. Wrong, I am disputing this. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:56] Very, very, very 99.9999 sure that it is Representative John Lewis, who is also from the state of Alabama. That let you know, Christina, we got some goodness come out of Alabama. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:08] There’s something in the water in Alabama and you are absolutely correct. 

Diallo Riddle [00:15:11] The harder they come. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:13] Close. 

Diallo Riddle [00:15:14] Wait. The harder they fall? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:16] That’s right. I’m one of those people that just changes one word. I mean, I know too well. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:15:21] I just don’t know nothing today. It’s for myself. A little water. Why you tell me the answer? 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:25] The answer is Seneca Village, which began in 1825 with the purchase of land by a trustee of the A.M.E. Zion Church. 

Roy Wood, Jr [00:15:32] You know why games like this make me nervous? I don’t know if I know enough Black. Do I know enought? How Black am I? Oh, my Lord. We going to find out in public. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:40] So give us a follow. Subscribe and join us on the Blackest Questions.