The Bantu Initiative is our pursuit to redefine Black Identity for the benefit of all people within the Pan-African Diaspora. We think you should call yourself ‘Bantu’. Here’s why:
Abantu (or 'Bantu' as it was used by colonists) is the Zulu word for people. It is the plural of the word 'umuntu', meaning 'person', and is based on the stem '--ntu' plus the plural prefix 'aba'.
The word has fallen in and out of fashion due to the oppressive Apartheid structure in South Africa. Today words like ‘Black’ and ‘Colored’ are used to differentiate between two different social groups of South Africans. To the outside world, ‘Blacks’ and ‘Coloreds’ are very difficult to tell apart.
Lately in the United States, many ‘African Americans’ prefer to be referred to as ‘Black’. We don’t feel that the United States claims us as its own, and we don’t feel that we can call ourselves ‘African’ because Slavery Descended Blacks typically have no idea where in Africa their people were stolen from.
African descendants from Latin America (often when living in the United States) typically identify with the nation that they came from rather than the continent of Africa. Many Latinx people are hard to visually differentiate between ‘Africans’ and ‘Blacks’, however, referring a Latinx person as ‘Black’ can sometimes cause offense because the term is felt to erase their Latinx identity. (There are also negative stereotypes attached to people in the United States who are considered to be ‘Black’ few people in the world want to be lumped in with those stereotypes)
Lately, the term ‘Afro-Latino’ has begun to be more popularly used. This term helps to connect Black Americans, Native Africans and Latinos, but still leaves out many people.
Native Africans who come to the United States are typically referred to as ‘African’ by Black Americans, but typically prefer to be known by their specific nation of origin, rather than by the broad title of ‘African’. Africa is the largest continent on Earth. Lumping such a diverse group of people under the title of said continent can be very reductive.
Bantu, as we see it, is a term for Ethnicity. (Technically it’s a term for Continent-icity) We don’t want to erase anyone’s culture or nationality. We would like there to be a term that connects us all to our ORIGINAL roots. No matter WHERE you are from, you can be connected to your history and roots that lead back to Africa.
White people around the world consider themselves to be ‘white’ because it connects them to their origin. ‘White’ doesn’t erase national identity. ‘White’ isn’t a singular culture. HOWEVER, ‘White’ can be used to group millions of people together for better or worse because it has a positive global connotation and is used as an umbrella term for lots of different people. The Irish and Italians (in the United States) were once subjugated groups. Being adopted under the term ‘White’ bonded everyone together under one title.
There is no White History Month because ‘white’ isn’t a culture. HOWEVER, ‘white’ has power as a word and gives people pride in who they are. This pride isn’t BAD, but it has been used for negative pursuits.
‘Bantu’ isn’t a culture, but it is an umbrella term that has the same potential to bond us all together with power. We’re dedicated to making sure the word is used for positive pursuits.
‘Bantu’, as it was originally used, means ‘Person’. Bantucentric is named as such so that our listeners can understand that the show is meant for all people within the entire Pan-African Diaspora.
Unlearning or changing the definition of a word is incredibly difficult. In the United States, we think of ‘Black’ as a word that can be used to identify anyone who’s people descended from Africa. The rest of the world doesn’t necessarily agree.
Our vision for the future is for the word ‘Bantu’ to be so universally known that African descendants all over the world will feel comfortable using it without fear of erasing their national identity or fear or adopting negative stereotypes. ‘Bantu’ is a word that can be used no matter where you are from, who your people are, or how you see yourself. If your people are from the continent of Africa, you are Bantu.
We would like your help to make the term ‘Bantu’ into a word that people know world-wide. We would like to end the conflict of identity that exists between different people within the diaspora. ‘Blacks’ and ‘Africans’ wouldn’t have so many negative things to say about one another if both groups thought of themselves as ‘Bantu’. If the club at your college was called ‘Bantu Student Union’, Africans and Afro-Latinx individuals wouldn’t feel uncertain if they’ll be accepted.
We need to be one as a people. We believe this word is the way to do it.