Sunday, April 18, 2010

American of African Ancestry

I am in discussions with some Twitter pals over the use of terms that designate cultures and races. It's as if I cannot acknowledge that I am black - only that I am American. This all started because I posted a link to a webpage on "African-American History." (By the way, I didn't NAME the page, I just linked to it.) A few points:
  1. I did not divide races and cultures into "African," "Euro," "Asian," etc. I DO live in a world were those designations exist. (And that "African" label matters to me a little more than it ever will to you, @melsite1)
  2. If I were @melsite1, I might feel the way he does. I'm not, so I don't. My personal history, experiences and heritage have shaped me differently.
  3. I am BLACK, I am AMERICAN, I am FEMALE, and I am 49 yrs old. Would I like to live in a world where none of that mattered? Of course. Do I live in such a world? What do you think?
  4. Very recently, I had a discussion with one of my brothers & I told him I've decided that I am not technically "African-American." In my opinion, a true African-American would be someone BORN African but an American citizen. And by the way, I'm pretty sure that most Africans don't like me using the term "African-American" for myself. Technically, I think I SHOULD be a BLACK American. In this world, though, my ancestral heritage is African (and probably some other things I don't know about yet).
  5. I didn't choose to be African-anything, but neither did my ancestors -YET we have a HISTORY based on that heritage. This was not something in our control, but it is what it is. In discussing it with my brother, I decided that while I had no right to be "proud" of a skin color, I am very proud of the heritage. I am proud of the men in my family who survived what they endured (and they endured things because of their "African-American" designation). I am proud that they served their country. I am proud that they survived ignorance and predjudice.
  6. I am also very proud of ANY women and men who understand and share their heritage to bring us all closer to understanding one another. (There are some of us - in every race and gender - who use differences to cause further division. I'm not so thrilled about those folks.)
  7. When I can research my family history without having to use books and records labelled and designated as being "colored," "negro," and "slave," then I will drop the "African" from my history.
  8. I think it is very easy for folks who don't have my culture and history to tell me to chill out. It's as if they want me to make life more comfortable for themselves by ignoring my roots. Sorry, it's not always very comfortable for me to use those designations either. I have to deal with it & I can't really worry about your comfort level. You CAN ignore it.
  9. Asking me to ignore my racial and cultural designations as a black woman is a lot like asking me (a Christian) to ignore Christ. I hear people of other religions ask why we can't just all celebrate our "one-ness." To do that, I would have to ignore my Christ. The same goes for the whole race/culture thing.
I wish someone would ask Hilary Clinton if being a woman didn't matter in her career... 

Basically - we are different. In a better world, we wouldn't be different (or else we wouldn't care). In THIS world, I will wait for that to happen. And, no, I won't be the one to make it happen. If you think you can, go ahead. I'll be here waiting when you succeed. In the meantime, you can deal with life the way you want. If you don't agree with me, don't go to the link I posted. Maybe you can only look at words and titles that suit your own opinions. If that works for you, fine with me. If you are not interested in reading about African-American history, then don't. I will continue to read about my culture, your culture - any culture I can. It benefits me.
(BTW: The best thing about all this is, it got me back active on Twitter after a long absence)