So, I was hanging out with a group of young Black intellectuals last night. We had never all hung out together, so it was really cool.
Of course, we’re talking about CHANGE. We’re talking about a REVOLUTION. We’re doing our thing. And, we start talking about this theme of SELF and how you identify yourself. And, someone was like
“Youth of the diaspora”
Somebody was like
and maybe a couple of people said similar things or went off on long ass “i’m this and that.. ….. blah blah blah female violinist from and.. yada yada yada”.
So, I say,
“Black American young woman”
And, I received heavy flak from that. Their points were that “Black” is a word that was put on African-Americans by White people. And, that it doesn’t have an origin, it’s just a color. And, it has a lot of negative definitions in the dictionary while White doesn’t have any. And, maybe the word “woman” is gender, it doesn’t indicate my sex. It’s a social construct as well. I didn’t get a chance to defend myself, because I had to leave.
It didn’t bother me at the time, but now it’s really bothering me.
I love the word Black (I’ll talk about the word “woman” too, just know that I still identify as that). I don’t care what they (the people who make and rely on the dictionary to tell them how to approach another person) think the word means. I only care about what it means to me. And, I associate the word with so many things that I love.
Black power. Black panthers. Black pride. Black is beautiful. Black don’t crack. The Blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. Black love. Black is the new Black. Black hair. Black soap. Black people. Black Black Black Black Black.
Black absorbs all other colors… it absorbs the most light. Black is dark ..and mysterious like night time. It’s just fucking awesome to me. I love the way it sounds when I say it (It actually makes me happy to say it). And, I always capitalize that fucking “B” even when some professors have tried to make me lower case it!
And, I have problems with the term “African-American” anyway. Because, when I went to South Africa, I realized something. I AM NOT AFRICAN. Yes, African-American culture has links with many cultures on the African continent. But Black people in America… we’ve become our own separate thing and culture. It has roots in Africa, but my god.. we are very different from Africans. Maybe the first couple of generations after the Atlantic Slave Trade “ended”, those were African-Americans. But…. us????? Naw…I feel that even people in the Caribbean are more “African” than we are. In Tobago, I researched in the library and could find cultural practices (songs, dances, and foods) that had direct links to practices in the Congo and other places. But that’s not to say Black people are “American” either. No… America is good but also a piece of shit.
And, even Africans are different from other Africans. They have thousands of languages… thousands of different cultures. The word “Africa” isn’t even an African word. They’re struggling with what “Africa” means today themselves. They’re struggling to become united.. to become Africa. So, what’s the true difference between the European word “Black” and the another European derived word “Africa”? Same European negative connotations. What makes one better than the other? I think that Black people in the diaspora romanticize the idea of Africa. And how can you not when your house is not a home…
And also, from what I observed and studied, Africans themselves determine identity with these specific things: ethnic group, language, & religion. Those are not the only things, but those are some major ones. And, I can’t really say that any of those things about me is African. I don’t know the first ethnic groups in my family tree. I don’t know if my family tree even begins with an African…… I just don’t know! And, I just feel like I have too much respect for the continent of Africa and its history. I’m not trying to inject myself somewhere where I’m not. I dunno. I just like Black American.
What do you call yourself? How do you identify? African-American, Black, or something else? What about if you’re Bi(tri)-racial?
I identify as Black American for all the reasons you so eloquently stated. I think we made Black our own and spun it into something uplifting. I don’t feel a connection to Africa because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. My father(now deceased) was Black American and although my mother is latin@, I never felt a strong connection to that culture because my mother distanced herself from latin@ culture because she was shunned by latino@s based on her darker complexion, which led her to feel a connection to Black American culture and adopt it as her own. So, I’ve always considered myself Black American and I am proud of that. I don’t feel deprived or less-than based on my Blackness. I think that’s how white hegemony wants us to feel.