Monday, March 9, 2009

"Black" American vs. "African" American

So today in one of my classes the students were reading about "African" Americans in a narrative in one of their English books. One of the students, of course, looked at me and asked, "Teacher, are you African American?" I reluctantly responded yes. It was not worth the time and energy nor would this little 9 year old Korean girl understand why I do not identify myself as being an African American. So I decided to just give her the simple answer so we could finish our lesson.

However I do not consider myself "African American". I am a "Black American".

The term "African" American seems to me to be a desperate method to be politically correct when it is used to define ALL Blacks! Now there are people that can be defined as "African" American. Barack Obama is an "African American". He was born to a Kenyan father and a White American mother. The District's Bup is an "African American". She is a first generation Ghanaian woman who was born in America. These are some definitions of people whom I believe are "African American".

I consider myself a Black American because my family's culture and what we identify with is being an American that happens to be Black. I do not know exactly where my family comes from. Now I can assume that I come from Africa but I do not necessarily know from what part. I have asked my 89 year old grandfather (my oldest known living family member) about the history of our family and he knows nothing past Georgia and Florida plantations. When talking to my grandmother about our family lineage she pulled out a picture of her grandmother that was a 6'2 Native American woman. So I am not "African" American. I am a Black American because no matter where my people may have come from when people look at me they see a Black woman who is an American.

I remember my freshman year in college when everyone was introducing themselves at the house meeting in my dorm. (I lived in a special interest dorm that was for minority students.) Everyone was introducing themselves and repping where they were from.

"I am Guyanese and I'm from Brooklyn."
"I am Haitian and I am from the Bronx."
"I am Nigerian and I am from Maryland."
"I am Dominican and I am from Queens"
(In case you haven't guessed I went to school in upstate NY)
"I am Black and I am from Pittsburgh." - Guess who???

At first I felt awkward not knowing my exact nationality. Where I was from, you were Black or you were White. That's it! There was an occasional Latino and of course a plethora of Asians. But if you were Black, you were Black and that was it! Then I thought to myself I do know my nationality. I am a Black American. I have a culture. I have an identity. I have a struggle. I have a purpose as a Black American woman. I do not need to define myself any more than this because that in itself holds great meaning.

I do consider it to be quite a gift to know exactly where your roots can be traced back to. I am still trying to get more clarity on my family lineage. However, in my attempts to discover this I have been led to many different possibilities. Therefore, I do not like being forced into the category of African American because that is not who I am. I am a Black American.


Somethin Special... said...

I completely agree. I hate being lumped into this nice package for others. I consider an African American as an American with African descent (which can be any color). I identify as a Guyanese American (first generation american in my family) and people can't wrap their minds around it. Black people come in so many different varieties its a shame when they just try to lump us all together.

P.S. LMAO@ that house meeting I so could of been student number 1 and I went to college in Upstate NY as well Great depiction

Chris said...

Good afternoon sister I just read the story you wrote "Black" American vs. "African" American. You said you consider yourself a "black american" but you don't know exactly where your family comes from and that you're still tying to get more clarity on your family lineage...well, it is my pleasure to inform you sister that you are neither "black american" nor "african american", you are an ISRAELITE of the tribe(family) of Judah, your lineage traces back to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are the sons and daughters of God sister, WE are the people that crossed the Red Sea with Moses this is clearly stated in the word of God, The Bible(KJV). Judah(the Jews) is the head tribe of the nation of Israel which consists of twelve tribes and the Bible says they are "black" as it written in the book of Jeremiah 14:2, the land of Israel is OUR land and the craddle of all civilization NOT africa! Jerusalem, not africa, is the mother land(Galatians 4:26). It is also written in the Bible that we as a people would be brought to america in ships and sold as slaves(Deuteronomy 28:68, Amos 3:6-7). The Holy Bible documents the history of our people which are those that are scattered throughout north, central and south america(and carribean islands) whose fathers are of indian and negroid descent. Also read Job 30:30, Songs of Solomon 1:5, Daniel 7:9, 10:5-6, Revelation 1:13-15, Romans 9:4. This is just a small drop from a sea of knowledge and information that has been hidden from our people, have a blessed day sister and may God enligten your spirit to the Knowledge of the Truth. please visit this website, it is very educational

Host said...

Very good post. Thank you for sitting down and writing it. I can remember Whoopi catching flak for saying much the same thing, and being branded a "traitor." If more people would just simplify their thinking, and stop being so PC, the world would be a much better place.

Prosper said...

I agree. I am American who happens to be white whose ethnic background is from all over the world and also has Cherokee. I do not identify myself as being "Euro-American" or Irish or British or much of anything but American and my family has been here since the late 1600's. At some point, you become part of the makeup of that country. To me, "African American" is someone who was naturalized as an American or whose parents or grandparents were from Africa regardless of their color. My own friends who are Americans who are Black find the reference African American just wrong and refuse to say it. I also know someone from South Africa who is white and was naturalized as an American and she calls herself African American. Of course, I call people whatever they tell me to call them to be on the safe side. If someone said they were Martian, I would call them that to keep the peace.

Jamakan said...

Both my parents are Haitian but I like being grouped as one it makes us stronger

QueenoftheUniverse said...

I'm Human first, I'm a woman, I'm American. Yes, my skin is brown so yes I'm black. BUT I am so many things black is just one of them. I'm ME!

Marnita said...

I agree with both Up&Coming Buppie and Chris. My nationality is American, and when I travel I feel very much American. Yet I also understand my true histroy began in Isreal. My brother did a DNA test and found that on my father's, mothers's side was traced to the Lemba tribe of Africa. And they traced their DNA to Israel.

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