Monday, November 17, 2008

Black or African-XXXX?

I was going to do a post on this once I got the time, but the Black Snob has tackled it. She asks if people identify as black or African-American. Here is the comment I left:

I identify as black, sometimes black-American. Not every black person in America is African-American, and not every African-American is black. I also think the term African-American helps feed into ignorant people's notion that Africa is a country, not a continent.
Yes, we have an ugly history in this country, but like Snob said, most of us are so removed from our African ancestry, we don't have any relatives that we know of where we can track what country they came from. My grandmother is Bahamian-American, and that branch came from mixed black-white-native ancestry....but that's only one sliver of my ancestry that I happen to know. I do not identify with the term's all socially constructed anyway, but I am black-American.

So how do YOU identify? This question is not just for Americans. If you are black and live in Europe, how do you identify? If you are bi-racial, how do you identify? If you are Asian, do you identify as Asian, or as Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean-American, etc.? How about Hispanic (which is totally a made-up category amongst made-up categories, but that's another post)?

10 jewels of thought:

ChocolateOrchid said...

Great topic! I've often pondered why we still use the term "African-American." I identify as black simply b/c I am not from Africa nor were my grandparents or great-grandparents. As you stated, I and my family are far removed from Africa. I am an American who happens to be black. Although I would love to do the ancestral trace thingy they do to see where my bloodline is from, I doubt that the results would make me change from identifying as black person.

Bohemian Bookworm said...

Chocolate Orchid, great point. I too would like to do the whole DNA trace thing too, just for kicks.

Get Togetha said...

I identify as being black and proud.

InstantVintage said...

I'm black. I can more readily identify with my Chinese heritage than I can my African heritage, so I really don't like "African American."

Bohemian Bookworm said...

Instantvintage, I love your blog. Are you bi-racial, in the sense that you have one Chinese parent and one black parent? I would love to know more about your heritage, and your subsequent means of identifying.

Mista Jaycee said...

I am an Afrikan born in America. The American part denotes all that has been added to me and my family tree but I know that it has been added to the tree. No matter where you travel, the adding of the Afrikan to the mixture has changed the racial and cultural landscape forever. The Afrikan was and is the first tree and everything else was added. The varations are strange and wonderful but alas they are still only varations/ They do not replace the original source material.

mp1 v.8.0 said...

I identify as both Black and African American. Its not because I havent thought of the meaning of both and find it easier to just accept both. It's because I have I want to acknowledge that African descendancy makes me the person that I am today. My ancestors' expuslion from Africa and "landing" in America give me that duel identity. I can't deny that.

Black, well no argument really exists for that. I'll admit that I've just accpeted that social construction/definition of myself. Even though it confuses me as to how I'm considered "black" and people much darker than I (Indians, Aborigines, Hispanics, some Europeans) are not considered black. It's quite baffling

Bohemian Bookworm said...

mista jaycee: This is true, everything and everyone is eventually traced back to Africa at some point. This is another reason why I don't feel right identifying as African-American; being so far removed. I know the ancestry is there, somewhere though.

mp1 v.8.0: I too, hate the social category of "colors" assigned to a whole "race" of people. I am pretty fair-skinned, and there are plenty of other non-"black" ethnicities who are darker than I am.

InstantVintage said...

@ Boho - sorry, I didn't come back to respond in a timely fashion. *doink*

Anyway, my dad is black American and my mom is Jamaican/Chinese. I went through an indignant sort of phase after being i.d.'d as African American and went around calling myself Jamblackanese. It never really caught on. LOL.

Thanks for coming by the blog. =)

Bohemian Bookworm said...

InstantVintage: DEAD at Jamblackanese. That's awesome.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin