Black People are Not all the Same

Africa is a Continent and Each Person is an Individual

Shefali O'Hara
5 min readJun 27, 2020


Photo by Jackie Parker on Unsplash

We call black people… black. It’s a descriptor, just like calling women with light colored hair blonds or calling white people white.

Yet I think there’s something insidious, too.

I recently read this story:

There is a scene where the author’s wife is trying to get her license back at the coat check at the Metropolitan Opera. And the clerk hands her back the license of another black woman.

It made me wonder — do some people really think all black people look alike?

I know that some people don’t realize that Africa is a continent.

It’s HUGE. And, just like other continents, it’s not homogeneous. There is the great Sahara Desert, which is the largest desert in the world. There is the Congo River Basin, which is the second largest rain forest in the world and home to a diversity of wild life, including gorillas and chimpanzees. There is Lake Victoria, which encompasses almost 30,000 square miles and Mount Kilimanjaro, which reaches over 19,000 feet into the heavens.

Just as Africa has this diversity of natural wonder, so too it has a diversity of people. The souks of Marrakech are different from the souks of Tunis. South Africa is a continent away, literally, from Egypt.

Africa has modern, cosmopolitan cities like Nairobi, which General Electric and the Rockefeller Foundation chose as their African base. It has places with over 90% literacy, such as Libreville, in Gabon. It also has places like Lagos, in Nigeria, which was rated as one of the worst places to live in the world.

Given the amazing diversity of Africa, how can anyone categorize all black people as being the same?

Here in America, we are a nation of immigrants. I learned, in New York City public schools, that we are a melting pot and that wherever we come from, we are still Americans. That my friends from…



Shefali O'Hara

Cancer survivor, writer, engineer. BSEE from MIT, MSEE, and MA in history. Love nature, animals, books, art, and interesting discussions.