Africans Born in America
I watched a video about labels and how they do not accurately represent who we are. He started his narration by saying, “I am not black, I mean, that’s what the world, calls me, but it’s not me. I didn’t come out of my mother’s womb saying hey everybody, I’m black. No, I was taught to be black and you were taught to call me that […].” As he continues his narration, he talks about equality, division and how we can solve racism (and any other –ism) by not using labels and loving each other all the same. Although I really enjoyed his poem and agreed with a lot that he said, my problem is that he compares race to nationality. His argument is that if no one told you that you were White, Mexican, Irish or Native American, you would not consider yourself as such. He then went on and asked a rhetorical question, “What would you call yourself if you did not have a label?” Unfortunately, he is missing the boat here and a lot of Black people are. Let me explain.
Being Mexican, Irish, Russian and French are not made up labels like race; they represent the geographical location from which a person was born called a nationality. If I were born in Haiti, I would not be offended if someone called me Haitian. This guy is basically saying that the term Haitian is a label and although it is technically some sort of label or description, I disagree that it is negative or irrelevant. The problem with Black people is that we don’t know what geographical location we came from (today) to be called by our names or nationalities. And truth be told, not all Africans in America were slaves or necessarily born in Africa, but that’s another story. Even though many of our ancestors were captured from Africa, we were only known as Black slaves. It didn’t matter what our name was because if your skin was dark then you were destined to be a slave. So, since our geographical location was never attached to us, they made up the term race which is nothing more than a measurement of how dark someone’s skin is to determine how inhumane they should treat us.
Throughout history, we have always been referred to as a color like Negro that evolved into “nigger.” And not just any color, a horrible, ugly, despicable, violent, unintelligent color that was unworthy to even be considered a color. So we need to understand that the Black race was made up to separate us from everyone else. Later they tried to salvage our dignity and label us with a more humane description; African American, but that posed even more problems. Why aren’t Caucasians routinely referred to as Caucasian Americans or White Americans? Clearly not all of them migrated from the Caucasus Region and they certainly were not native to America. What’s even worse is that they don’t really have a label at all and are the epitome of an American. Furthermore, why doesn’t the label White mean the same thing as Black? Most people are not offended when you call them White. Why is that? Because the term White does not insinuate they are a criminal, illiterate thug who can’t get right. So, you see, it’s not labels that are the problems; it’s the negative connotations and stereotypes behind the labels that are the problems.
As I watched this video, I realized racism would not be an issue at all if there was not this deep rooted hatred towards dark skinned folks in general. Deleting labels would only confuse us as to who is who so that is not the answer to this ridiculous riddle. That would be like saying all animals are simply animals even though they look different and exhibit different behaviors. Being Black became an issue when slavery was more about the color of someone’s skin than business (i.e. indentured servants). We need to understand that African people who were sold into slavery did not just come to America. In fact, less than 400,000 of approximately 12.5M African slaves migrated to America while the majority landed in the Caribbean Islands, South America and the lower hemisphere of Asia (Henry Louis Gates Jr.). It took me a long time to get my head out of my own a** and stop believing that racism was only a problem in America because *NEWSFLASH* Black is not welcome anywhere. Every person mixed with Black has a label in front of their nationality as if everyone wants to clarify that they are pure bred and not mixed with an African. Black Mexican. Black Irishmen. Black Peruvian. I learned that Blacks in Ireland and France have the same problems with racism as Black Americans do. And it’s not because of our labels; it’s because Black is synonymous with the derogatory definition of a Nigga. That’s the problem.
When we look at the root of racism, we have to understand that it’s not about someone’s nationality, it’s about how Black they are. And if you have a drop of Black blood then you are forced to identify with Black because you can’t accept your French mother without being a sellout to your peers. I think it’s about time we stop labeling people by the color of their skin. Sure I’m hypocritical and call us Black in my blogs, but that’s because I was taught to call myself that and I really like the color Black; it’s elegant and classy. But I’ll start referring to myself as African when everyone else in America is referred to by their politically correct name. We need to expunge the word race from our vocabulary. It’s like calling a rat a unicorn even though everyone knows it is not true. If we ever want to stop racism in America, we need to drop the made-up racial terms like Black and White and call each other by our proper names. Caucasian American and African American. But ultimately we are all the same. American.