I have been an avid lover of video games from a young age and it seemed normal that all the characters were white. I guess it was the case with everything around me. Everything that was portrayed to be good seemed to be on the whiter side of the complexion scale. The dolls were white with straight “silky” hair, and all the super heroes in the movies were white.
We cannot deny that this has had an impact on our own as black people. We’ve seen how the skin lightening trend grew and the weave market has blossomed. Whiteness has been constructed to become an aspirational quality that we should strive for. Can we even blame our people when all we see of blackness is poverty, illiteracy, crime, and everything negative that can be associated with being African or black.
For the longest time white people have told the narrative about Africa and black people in various forms of media and the golden thread of intent that connects all these stories has always been the same. A few years ago I came across the trailer of Resident Evil 5 and the racism embedded in that game is gross. The game features a protagonist who arrives in a village in Africa to find black zombies. No, the white protagonist was not there to rescue the black nation, it was to fight, shoot and destroy them. Can you imagine what massage this is reinforcing in the minds of white people and what it says to the black person. That it is normal for black bodies to be violated, especially when we know that racism is still a living, well fed monster in our society.
This is just one of the extreme examples that I’m using to drive home the message that we as black people know our selves best. We know the true insights into who we are as a people and as much as we may be angry when we are portrayed in a bad light, we should take ownership of our own narrative. When we make and produce our own content we will be able to reflect our own people and spaces in a way that makes us proud to be African. And our children will learn to love themselves better than we did.
There is something about seeing oneself through a medium. The media is like a mirror and you either love or hate what you see and I believe it’s easy to hate what you see if you’ve never seen anything to be proud of. Imagine seeing your own neighborhood as a black person, the same way you experience it on a daily basis. You with a healthy nourished body, people walking down the streets with no bullets to duck and just a vibrant atmosphere of people whose culture is rich with stories still to be told.
I am excited that in 2016 we have more books, films and art narrated by black people. Another area that is picking up is the gaming scene in Africa. Video games are a huge market and with many black people as consumers. It encouraging to see gaming studios like Kuluya (Nigeria), Maliyo Games (Nigeria), Leti Games (Kenya), and Kola Studios (Uganda) who are telling stories from African mythology and all forms of our culture to reflect the real Africa that we live in.