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Black American or Black African: Why Nuance Matters

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I am writing this notice because there must be a distinction between race (the color of a person) and ethnicity (the culture of a person) in America.

I appreciate the critically conscious and necessary conversations being brought up about race and the system built against those who are darker. However, within our melanin-saturated world, we must include everyone’s voice. We cannot assume that every white person is of German descent, just like every Asian is not Chinese, and every Black person is not African. What? What do you mean every Black person is not African? When I say African, I mean in terms of culture. Culture is defined by traditions. There is an established and beautiful Black American culture. I am just reiterating that although we all share a Black color, we are all not of the Black culture and it is not fair for people to minimize our cultural voices. In a perfect world every Black (race) would know which African country and village they were from. But we don’t. Black culture is beautiful for what it is. Having a black color doesn’t mean you are of African culture. The term is misleading. But we must discuss the fact that race and culture are not synonymous. My skin is black, and while I love aspects of black culture, I am Ghanaian. I didn’t have backyard barbeques growing up; I had people pounding fufu in the backyard.

White American people (race) arrived in America on a boat. Black American people (race) came here on a boat. I strongly believe the only people truly entitled to the term American are those native to the land. They should be called Americans, no native because that’s redundant. They are the true owners of this American land. But that is another discussion for another day.

In all actuality ancestry.com exists for White American people because they don’t know where they came from! All other “1st World” nations are directly connected to their cultural and ethnic roots and traditions. They refer to one another by their ethnic origins (i.e.; Irish, British, German). Americans identify by color because that’s the only way to write or build their own form of a culture. That’s the only thing they have in common, their skin color. Nothing truly done by white or black (race) American people is American culture, but immigrants who need roots. Again, race is color while ethnicity is culture.

 

  1. There is no one African culture.

Even in Ghana, there are hundreds of different languages and cultures. To preach that Black Americans should study African culture is deceitful. Which country? Which tribe? How? While I do feel more liberated to represent my culture, I do feel as though the separation must be made distinct. This is not to say that in this country we still do not have the same struggles and we cannot empathize and unite to fight the systems of colorism and racism in place. Let’s be very clear, BLACK LIVES MATTER. When White people see you or I, they will categorize us immediately. But within our own melanin-saturated culture, do not minimize the ethnicity of Blacks who are of direct African or Caribbean descent. Those of us from the islands or the motherland have grown up in a society surrounded by Black people. We have had a Black president all of our lives. Suprisingly enough, the people who teased me the most when I came to America were the ones who looked like me. The booty scratcher and lion jokes cut deep. And ten times out of time, the first time we saw a lion was in America. However, we have moved past that to a time where our African culture is appreciated. But please be careful because sometimes people were African cloths that have symbolic meanings but in frivolous ways.

IE: And by the way, no African I know to my working knowledge celebrates Kwanzaa. That’s Black American culture. AND THAT’S FINE!

  1. We’ve been socialized to synthesize. Telling other people they can only fit in one category because of their color is demoralizing and minimizing. While I am not speaking against people understanding the beauty of my homeland, I do ask that Black/White/Brown people do not minimize the voice of the African culture. The ones who go home and speak and eat differently. We love our culture and thank you for noticing how rich our culture is. But you cannot take what is ours without consent, or you might as well be Columbus.

 

Sincerely,

Yaa Asantewaa

 

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Sosa Godfrey I guess this is where I write something witty about myself. Hi, my name is Sosa, I have a tattoo of an alien and I write a lot.