Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I am Not an African-American


Since I've changed the focus of this blog to deal with all issues concerning Black women...not just romantic ones...I am going to kick off political debates/conversations on A Big Butt and a Smile because, while I've been politically apathetic as late, I recognize Black women have a lot of power in this upcoming election and need to be well informed to wield it.

To kick off the political discussion I"m posting apiece I originally wrote back in my college days at the University of Miami and retooled a few years back. So here it is just as I penned it a few years ago with minor (very minor) changes.


I am not an African-American

I am not an African-American. Don’t call me an African –American. I’m an American. Period. I was born here as were my parents and grandparents and you would have to search many a generation back before you found anyone in my family who originated from the continent of Africa. It’s time black people in this country stop trying to identify with a land whose culture is not their own. It’s time we stand up and say “This land is our land” and let everyone know we have a right to this country as much as anyone.

I understand the need for black people in America to find an identity all their own. We are as displaced as a people can be. Brought here in the early seventeenth century, first as indentured servants then as slaves the richness of culture these individuals brought from their various tribes was systematically ripped away from them. Maybe in calling ourselves African-American we feel we can retrieve some of that richness that is lost to us and was stolen from our people so long ago. However the atrocities of the past are just that, the past and trying to identify with lost cultures isn’t going to help us achieve the respect and prosperity that has alluded us for so long in a country that is still hostile to those of African descent.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting we forget about the past. It’s important to study and learn from your forefathers’ triumphs, mistakes and pain. Continuously changing our identification however, is not the best way to use that knowledge. We’ve had several “identities:” from Colored to Negro, Black and now African-American. How can we expect anyone else to know who we are if we’re not sure of our own identity? How can we expect to come together as a people if we can’t agree on something as simple as to what to call ourselves? Hell the government is not even sure who we are if the census form was any indication with their Black, Negro, African-American non-hispanic category.

I say dispense with all of the confusion. We’re American. The sweat of our brow helped build this country. Benjamin Banneker a black man, helped design the white house. Something as simple as the traffic light and as life saving as the blood transfusion were created by black people. Americans. From music, to dance, to literature we have given much more to this country then it has have ever given to us. We can be proud in simply calling ourselves Americans because we have more then earned that right. It’s time we make use of it.

I was once asked if I viewed myself as an American first and black second. The answer is as long as America views me as black first then I’ll always be American second. But I’ll never be anything other then American.

13 comments:

DMB said...

Interesting. Funny how as Americans, only WE have to qualify ourselves. We're not 'Americans', we're 'African-Americans', whereas a person of Italian or Irish descent can simply be an 'American'.

Vakker Kvinne said...

Lovely post and I totally agree. I live in Europe and people ALWAYS see me as African. It's annoying, not because there is anything wrong with being African but because I AM AN AMERICAN. You can accept 50 Cent and Oprah as American-but not a woman walking down the street? Jesus-take the wheel.

I'm more American then anything else-and I choose to identify as what I am-an AMERICAN above anything else.

Brother OMi said...

Black folks in america:
the most patriotic, the least loved...

i feel you though

rikyrah said...

I saw you post your link at Jack and Jill and came over.

I agree with this. I am an American of African descent. It's what I am. I have been to 4 continents so far. And, it only reinforces that I AM an American. I'm not going anywhere. But, African descent is my ancestry, and it has shaped my life too.

I believe Blacks are the truest Americans. The Native Americans never fought FOR this country. They simply FOUGHT this country - and lost. But, Black folk FOUGHT FOR this country. They fought FOR this country to live up to the creed in those 2 documents - the Declaration of Independence and Constitution . Not allowing White America to believe it's delusions. Always challenging it to live up to its creed.

I, too, am America.

Glennisha said...

I'll have to unapologetically disagree with this post. I feel as if I am simply an African in America. I understand your point that Blacks here pretty much built this country and we should get the credit that we deserve but, why would you want to claim something that obviously doesn't want to claim you. Yes Blacks in America are a displaced people and some of our distant sisters and brothers back in the motherland don't want to claim us either but, the only reason why our culture has become American is because our ancestors were forcefully brought over here. If it wasn't for the transatlantic slave trade we'd still be in the motherland and have a very distinctive African culture. I actually am bothered by fact that American is a part of me because America does NOT care about my people rather we've help build this country or not. That is real.

Renee said...

I am particularly resistant to being called African anything. I am a black Canadian and that is that. I always correct people when they say African Canadian because I think that it is a way of reminding me that I am different and that I don't fit under the category of Canadian. I challenge that because my birth certificate is just as blue as anyone elses.

JJ said...

Amen Renee...

That's how I feel. I am NOT the Other.

Vivian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vivian said...

I can not agree with you more. I have beautiful chocolate skin but I am no less American than my white or Asian sister. I have made the argument against the "African American" title as a means to alienate the black community for years. I am an Army Brat born in Germany to a Panamanian mother and Nigerian father. Visiting these respective countries I have never been regarded as a "African American". I hope that one day in America, I will not be placed into a sub-category of citizenship but accepted simply as American.

pcguy said...

Nice post. Well said--good for you.

The Wealthy Blogger said...

I really like this post. You are a wise woman.

I myself am of "Celtic" descent, but I feel no "attachment" to the horrors that happened to some of my ancestors or others of Celtic descent throughout history. Although I was born in Northern Ireland, I'm no more likely to like any particular Irish person over someone who is of of the Oriental or Asian race.

I, a person living in the 21st century, am no better nor worse due to any activities of my ancestors or any cruelty imposted upon them or by them.

As far as "accepted simply as American," I'd go even further than that: My relationships with individuals have no political entity (nation) limitations other than that imposed upon me by some Government that believes it has the right to limit my freedom of associations.

Although I presently live in Canada, I might have more in common with someone from Buffalo, NY than someone in Vancouver, BC.

writtensoul said...

This is an argument that tends to always end with me being the only person on this side of the road. I am an American, plain and simple. My great-great grandfather, great-grandfather and grandfather were all born in America. I have Caucasian, American Indian and Black blood running through my veins. And I'm not the only one. While I am of African descent, and have been to Africa which is a beautiful land that I'd love to claim as my own, I do not have citizenship there. I'm glad I'm not the only person who can see the truth in this and applaud you for your article.

Anonymous said...

You The Creation of the creator.
No one is higher no One can do better