Bound: Africans vs. African Americans is an illuminating documentary examining the tense relationship between the two groups in the U.S.
“If you type Africans vs. African Americans on Google, you get over 1,700, 000”. A strong statistic to set the tone of this thought-provoking film, which explores the perceptions people have of each other in both communities.
Kenyan-born director Peres Owino connects slavery and colonialism to the present day problems that Africans and African-Americans have with each other, which helps the audience understand the root of the problem.
One polarizing behaviour both communities employ is name-calling, which includes “booty-scratcher” to describe Africans and “Akata” to describe African-Americans. There is a sense that both groups use slurs to identify each other, when these prejudices are inherited from slavery and colonial times in which black people were disrespected by being called names.
Owino and former Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington share their personal experiences, and observations which makes for interesting viewing.
The raw conversations show how powerful history is in explaining the disconnect between black people. The film touches on the fear black people in Africa and the U.S have of authority, and addressing institutionalised racism, such that anger is taken out on each other.
The pervasive self-hate is also explored in which both groups are desperately trying to disassociate themselves from the things they perceive to be bad about being black such as dark skin.
The filmmaker successfully highlights the differences and similarities between Africans and African-Americans through interviews, a group discussion and dramatic story telling, in which Owino acts as a narrator.
While the film is poignant, at times the sequence of jumping between segments is distracting. However, this minor setback does not take away from the feature. Ultimately, it reveals how the prejudices both groups have towards each other need to be addressed through interaction, education and compassion.