Magazine aimed at Africans in America

March 12, 1992|By A. Dahleen Glanton | A. Dahleen Glanton,Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO -- There's Essence magazine to help African-American women build relationships with African-American men.

And there's EM/Ebony Man for African-American men who want to strengthen their relationships with African-American women.

Then there's Jet, which keeps African-American men and women up to date on what other African-American men and women are doing.

Now there's another magazine, African Newbreed, which helps African men and women who are new to America understand African-American men and women -- as well as other African men and women.

Confusing?

According to editor Rufai Ladipo, a magazine such as this is needed to help sort out and dispel some of the misconceptions African men and women and African-American men and women have about each other.

"There are misconceptions that date back to slavery time," said Mr. Ladipo, a Nigerian journalist who lives in Chicago. "Some American blacks think Africa is a jungle and that Africans walk around half naked. They don't know about our continent or our culture.

"There's also a tendency for African immigrants to think that blacks are criminals, that blacks are lazy, that they are unambitious. We're fed misconceptions about African-Americans, which affects the way we relate to them.

"It's not a conscious effort on our part. But because of what hits you on the American media every day, you begin to see your black brothers and sisters, on a subconscious level, negatively."

Years before more positive TV shows such as "Roots" and "The Cosby Show," what both groups saw were movies like "Tarzan," in which Africans were portrayed as savages, and "Superfly," which showed blacks as drug-dealing pimps and prostitutes.

Such movies helped promote negative stereotypes, according to Mr. Ladipo.

The bimonthly magazine published in a small office at 4554 N. Broadway, targets African immigrants living in the United States, but Mr. Ladipo hopes African-Americans will learn a few things too.

The first issue, on Oct. 4, 1990, coincided with the anniversary of Nigeria's independence from Britain. The cover story, "Three Decades of Blessings and Agonies," gave African-Americans a historical perspective of the 30 years Nigeria has existed as an independent nation, Mr. Ladipo said.

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