I recently read yet another article where a black person was not altogether claiming her blackness. She was black, however, she stated that she considered herself more “international.” International, or not, black is black.
So again, I started thinking about what BLACK is to me and wondering if it’s so different for any other black person. TO ME, if you were born in America and have African ancestry (or even Caribbean) as well as a blend of other races, you’re black, especially if you look black. My own genetic makeup is a blend of African (who knows from which country or tribe?–and I’ve heard Caribbean as well), Cherokee Indian (or so I’m told), and white (or Caucasian, if you prefer). And TO ME, this blend, being multiracial with African being the predominant origin, is what makes me BLACK.
I actually prefer the term “black” instead of “African American” (although I acknowledge both). In a country with so many different races and people of different origins, I don’t really think the term African American fits me. For example, we have Asian Americans who are Americans who are Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese, Laotian, Japanese…you get the picture. And we have African Americans who are Americans from Nigeria, Kenya, South African, Somalia…again, you get the picture. These Africans, here directly from Africa, bypassing slavery, are African Americans (to me). My family did not bypass slavery; my ancestors fully experienced it, persevered, and survived it. And in their survival, they procreated with Indians and Whites (in my case)– some by choice, some not. And they adapted, and were wonderfully resilient because of it. I AM because they WERE.
So being black is not a negative for me. And I’m by no means denouncing “African Americans”; I’m simply recognizing that I’m of African descent PLUS much more. This distinction in no way makes me better or worse, just different.
I love all the different and beautiful shades we, black people, come in–from the palest to the most midnight–we are all glorious creations of God. For this reason, I don’t subscribe to the “color wars.” I don’t think light skin is any better or more beautiful than dark skin, or vice versa. Lord knows ugly can come in any color.
My hope is for all of us black people to embrace each other, value each other, and find peace with each other, and learn to work together and support each other, not in spite of the color of our skin, but BECAUSE of the color of our skin. You see, each color represents the hue of a revered great-grandmother or wise great-grandfather, an affectionate grandmother or experienced grandfather, a self-sacrificing mother or a loving father, a jovial aunt or humorous uncle, a protective brother or a playful sister. WE ARE FAMILY and I wish we would learn to keep each other in high esteem and treat each other with respect.
So all of this is how I identify my race as BLACK. And when I assess my own blackness on the most basic level, I look in the mirror– I see the caramel coating, the locs that scream freedom, the intermittent tribal redness, the pronounced jaw structure and I proudly affirm…
YES, I’M BLACK.
P.S. This article was specifically to discuss my race, not culture, which is another topic! In Part 2 I will report which country and/or tribes in Africa my ancestors came from, as well as other races in my genetic makeup. But keep in mind, I’ll still be BLACK.
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