I’m not African-American, I’m Black.February 3, 2010 at 5:53 PM | Posted in Don't be a Dummy, Education, Helter Skelter | 34 Comments
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Latoya Radway.
“African-American is a bogus, PC, made-up term.” “That is not a race. Your ancestry is from Africa, and now you live in America. Okay, so you were brought over, either your family was brought over in the slave trade, or you were born here and your family immigrated here, or whatever. But that is not a race.”
While I hate the source I agree with the statement above. African American ughh!!! Oh how I hate the term. I am Black and proud. We can debate the origin of race and it being a social construct but that is another argument for another time.
For lack of a better term, people of darker melanin are Black. I have long had this debate in many an African-American studies class or during one of our spirited debates in good ole Kardon Apartments. My feelings on this term has not changed but has intensified over the years. This term had real relevance post-slavery when many Blacks had a direct lineage from Africa as their parents or grandparents were born on the continent. Now, it has turned into an empty attempt by those who want to have a link to somewhere. The term African-American sprang up during the Black is beautiful/Black pride era of the 1970-1980’s. I wholeheartedly agree Black is beautiful but this new PC term “African-American” is not. African American is not a race it is a nationality. I know and understand the dynamics of the slave trade and how many Blacks came to be Americans but that does not change the fact that for good or bad we are here now. I am sorry that the only link you have to a country is one that enslaved an entire race but you are BLACK plain and simple.
While the need to belong and identify is a real feeling, “African Americans” in this country have little in common with Blacks who live in Africa except for skin color. They may have more in common with their White neighbor from two houses down, who attends the same church, speak the same language and attend the same schools. I have never understood how I could be African-American in this great ole country.
I have friends whose parents were born in Africa. Their nationality is African-American and race Black and may belong to any one of the many ethnic groups in Africa. I knew a boy who I went to high school with, who was White but his parents were born in South Africa. He said to me “I am African-American but I am unable to say that because people would say I am not Black.” Let’s stop with this African-American thing please (even though I think white people use it more than anyone I know). You are an American who happens to be Black, just like the South African guy is an African that happens to be White.
My parents were born on the beautiful island of Jamaica bup! bup! (Sorry I digress) where they are Black. They cannot come to America and become African-American. As their child my ethnicity is Jamaican-American and my race is Black. I am very aware how my ancestors got to the island of Jamaica but that does not change my link to the island and the culture that comes with it. I enjoy eating plantains, ackee, oxtail and any other animal that is put in front of me with some curry seasoning. That is my Jamaican side. I also enjoy eating Mc Donald’s, baked macaroni and cheese and chicken (I couldn’t bring myself to say fried). That is my American side. So what would I be under this whole classification system that we have in America? African-Jamaican-American, Jamaican-African-American, or just to make it complicated African-Jamaican-Caribbean-American (all these hyphens are giving me a headache). The point I am trying to make is that Black people come from many different countries so the term African-American cannot adequately or accurately describe us. I say ‘us’ because we are one race though our ethnic and nationality backgrounds may differ. You do not see white people saying on their census forms that they are Irish American. They are white, nothing more nothing less. Yes, I know their history is different but nonetheless it’s important to recognize that since Day 1 of the damn Mayflower landing on Plymouth Rock, they identify as White and American. Whites claim their stake in America as Americans and so should we. They are no more Americans then we are so we should not allow a hyphen to be added to our “race” as if we are somehow diluted Americans.
I finish with a piece of a conversation that I had with my friend Dash (thanks for the guest blog)
“I say the exact same thing! What would Caribbean-Americans be called? Your mother’s Jamaican, now she changes her location, so magically she’s “African-American”. It makes NO sense! Her (and your) reference country and culture is Jamaica not Africa. When you really think about it, African-American is denoting your nationality NOT your race as evidenced with the White African boy. At the same token if you say you’re Jamaican that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re black. I’ve seen too many Chinese-Jamaicans White-Jamaicans just as I seen many White-Panamanians, Chinese-Panamanians etc. to be that stupid. It’s just foolish. It’s misleading and obsolete. The world is just too big and too diverse for these narrow “classifications” of people. So how do you identify a person directly from a country in Africa? African-American right? But the so-called “African-Americans” in America have been generations upon generations removed from the country they identify in their hyphen. It is clearly not the same. We obviously see that your lineage is from Africa, as you are black, so why is the formality needed? No one ever said calling me black was an insult. That’s what I am. I’m fine with my black-ness. Are you?”
Related: Dude, the whole concept of race is made-up :rolls eyes and walks away:
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