Today in my Race and Ethnic Relations class, we were discussing the difference in being Black and African-American. As my Professor was talking, I asked myself which of the two I considered myself to be. Surprisingly, that was a harder question to answer than I thought. At first, I felt like not identifying myself as being African-American meant denouncing my history, my heritage and the place where my ancestors originated. I was ashamed of my thoughts because it felt like I did not respect or acknowledge the struggle that came with the freedom that I enjoy today and even having the option of how I want to identify myself. By saying that I am an African-American, is to say that I recognize that I have ancestry that traces back to Africa, however, I was born and raised in America.
But while I do appreciate all those before me have endured, I also do believe that the term “African-American” was created in society to make my race seem less offensive. Even thinking about how my race, in comparison to others, is spoken about in classes, I very rarely have heard anyone use the term “White- American” or “European American.” But why is that? Why do Whites have the privilege of identifying themselves as just plain White and it be socially accepted; but I have to dress up my race as African-American because it sounds more appropriate.
So after much contemplation. I am proud to tell you that I am Black. I was born Black. I was raised Black. And I will die Black. I have never been to Africa but I know where I came from and the things my ancestors went through to have the same rights and opportunities as the “White-Americans” in this country. There is beauty in this smooth brown skin and I will walk with my head held high embracing my “blacknicity.” I wouldn’t color me any other way. I wear this honey brown caramel mocha latte fabulously and it is a constant reminder of who I am and who my people are. It makes no sense for me to alter the way I identify myself just to make others more comfortable in my presence. I don’t understand why every five years we decide that it is necessary to change the term we use to identify our race. So many people in the past have fought for me to be able to identify myself as black. And I embrace my blackness. There are so many beautiful sides and shades to this blackness, you see. I’m a Black girl who rocks!
Watch this poem by Smokey Robinson called A Black American.
Comment and tell me what you are and what you think about the poem!!
Journey wisely in your blackness. Power to the people and all those other black empowerment phrases (: