"wE wAs KiNgS 'n qUeEnS"

I saw this and did a DEEP chuckle. In fact, as a scientist who knows a bit about evolution, I think I appreciated it more than one would expect. Yes, the joke is a little cold-blooded, but: whatever.

After the deep chuckle, I scoffed and rolled my eyes in exasperation, because I understood the sentiments that this meme portrayed PERFECTLY.

Let's break it down.

Now, bringing the gist of this meme into real life, we can see that the nearest counterparts we have is the group of Black Americans declaring: “We was kings and queens!” We can be sure about our assumption because of the kind of cap seen here on the chicken is one of the few kinds of caps that Black Americans in these circles often accessorize themselves with. (Other types of caps they use indiscriminately include fez and kufi caps seen mainly in north and northwestern/west Africa respectively.)

“We was kings and queens!”

This comment is often used as a form of either a) upliftment or b) resistance in pan-Africanist and hotep circles. Variations in the application of this idea exist as well. One can find Black Americans outside the pan-Africanist circles online (as well as other International Blacks that grew up in Black American culture) using the term “king” or “queen” to refer to one another when a) praising, b) defending, or c) greeting each other in conversations.

Nevertheless, the combination of comments in this meme result in ridicule of this phenomena: this squawking about distant, allegedly great (royal) ancestry to whichever poor unfortunate souls would listen.



Here’s why I find this meme funny:

A. A Break-Down In The Analogy: There’s a mismatch in the meme in that all chickens, are indeed the descendants of dinosaurs (the T. rex). However, hardly any of the Black Americans today are the descendants of African royals (which were highly unlikely to be abducted or sold into slavery in the Americas for several reasons. For example, one of the reasons that African royalty was unlikely to be abducted or sold into slavery is that a few African royal families were the ones selling their counterparts from other classes, clans, or tribes.) (2).

B. The Fun Hyperbole: The hyperbole in the invoked concept of “distant heritage”. 400 years (the commonly quoted time for when the first Africans were brought forcibly to mainland America by Europeans) is a drop in the ocean compared to >66 million years (when T. rex roamed the earth)!

C. How Relevant Is That African Past For Black Americans In The United States Anyway?: I think this meme insinuates (rightfully so) whatever those dinosaurs (African ancestors) did or who they were in their homes centuries ago doesn’t really fit the context of the present life of the chicken (the new identity of “Blackness” that has evolved over time in the context of America). You don’t have to take my word for it though. Google this sentiment online to see how prevalent it is among Black Americans. (I have heard this from many Black Americans directly.)

D. They’re Caricaturizing African Identity Again: Africans were and are real people just like everyone else. We have and had intersectional identities. We pre-existed the stereotypes of colonizers and have existed outside these stereotypes since they were first formed. We exist outside the ignorance, wishful thinking, fairy tales, longing, and loss of the African diaspora. Then and now. Most Africans (then and now) are not royalty. We don’t all get along. We didn’t then either. For reasons we all know, most Black Americans have no contemporary ties with Africa or their past heritage there. So, what does it matter who your ancestors were back then? If you went to Africa today, you wouldn’t know if you passed your distant cousin on the street! Furthermore, even if your ancestors were (by some rare chance) kings and queens, you likely couldn’t stroll into the palace to see your cousins all willy-nilly. (Although I hear that worldly, “pick-me”, little Ghana is actively handing out chieftaincy titles…LMAO.) In any case, I think that part of what it will take to come to terms with Africa and what it represents for the diaspora, is myth-busting. Africans in particular need to work harder at debunking ALL the myths and stereotypes. Even the pleasant ones.

In closing, to all the Black Americans out there that this meme is talking about:

Get real. The past is gone, and denial/delusions of grandeur won't help you get it back. Focus on finding out what you are in the present. Your energy for resistance is better spent that way.

  1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/04/molecular-analysis-confirms-t-rexs-evolutionary-link-to-birds/#:~:text=Putting%20more%20meat%20on%20the,and%20to%20a%20lesser%20extent%2C

  2. https://face2faceafrica.com/article/the-dark-history-of-togos-slave-house-run-by-an-african-royalty-and-a-british-trader-until-1856