It was during my research on my African ancestry that I discovered something that changed my view of the world. I was looking up the mythology of African tribal groups and found that many of them say they came from somewhere else.
Over the years I had discovered that a people's myths should be taken as seriously as their official history. These myths are the stories that cannot be verified through traditional historical means, but they are passed downed from generation to generation. African mythology is often so intertwined with the official history, it's sometimes difficult to separate the two.
I had only traced my history to West Africa, but the mythology of most West African tribes tells of how they originated in the Nile Valley. They further say that some founding leader led them to where they are now, and sometimes the tribal group carries their name.
When you add that information with the discoveries in the Rift Valley of East Africa, it is clear that mankind emerged from the region where the religious records say man was formed from the dark-red soil.
For the first time, I realized that the history of Egypt was part of my history and that East African people were the root of the African family tree.
We share a kinship of creation.
We are the people of the soil.
All one people
This is the foundation for my relationship with African immigrants and why I encourage African Americans to open up their arms to a new group of Africans coming to America.
We are all African Americans - whether we arrived here 300 years ago or last week.
That is why it is so painful when I hear the original African Americans saying that African immigrants don't like them. I hear African immigrants saying the same thing about us.
You hear about arguments and disagreements here and across the nation, but when things turn violent, most of the time, we are striking out against the newly arrived immigrants.
A few years ago an African immigrant cab driver was killed by several African-American youths who are now in jail.
Then, several weeks ago, in front of the Blue Nile Restaurant in the Central Area, another shooting occurred. An Eritrean man was killed, and an Ethiopian man was wounded. The African-American woman who did the shooting is still on the loose. This is not acceptable behavior.
When talking with the owner of the Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant, Eanna Kassa, she said that African immigrants felt isolated from other African Americans. This led to me scheduling a meeting at the Urban League between some of the leaders of the various communities.
A second meeting is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 19, at the Blue Nile restaurant at 3 p.m., and hopefully, new voices will be added to this important conversation.
A common process
Every racial group in America goes through this process. Older Asian immigrants had to adjust to newly arrived Asian groups, older white groups had major concerns with newer European immigrants and so shall we.
It's not whether the problem is inevitable that counts; it's what we do with it. We need to look the issue in the face and deal with it.
After we began to meet and talk, I found out that other people had been working quietly at doing the same thing, and that is good to know. Hopefully, all of these efforts will eventually merge into something lasting and positive.
There are also positive things that are happening between the original African Americans and the newly arrived Africans. For example, several successful businesses are jointly owned and operated, so everything is not negative.
So far, the Northwest is out front with this effort, and I would like to believe that Martin Luther King County is the natural place for this dialogue to begin and where the solutions can be found.
We share a kinship of creation.
We are the children of the soil, and that should be reflected in everything we do with each other.
Charlie James, a Seattle resident, can be reached at needitor@nwlink. com.