The story goes something like this… the term African American was first coined by Rev. Jesse Jackson and some other scholars during a late 80s news conference to fight the effect of racism on black people in the USA, to raise the self esteem of the people. Some claim Jesse invented the term, others have found evidence of it’s use 200 years before that.
At the conference the Rev. said:
”Black tells you about skin color and what side of town you live on. African-American evokes discussion of the world.”
Before the civil rights movement the words negro and colored were used, black followed and still stands as interchangeable as African American today.
Most blacks in America will probably tell you they are proud of being African American, it’s hard to realise that the term has only been in mainstream use for some 36 years, now it’s so official, an African American president is just leaving the big white house!
But to suggest that an individual is not solely American, after being in the country in many cases for generations, after shaping it’s history, after being in many cases the base of the culture that the world loves, isn’t that kind of racist?
We don’t hear European American solely because those descendants feel attached to America, they are American, not British, or French, or Dutch.
Jesse said black was just a color, this is true. Someone who arrives in America from the motherland, say they are Nigerian, is black but not African-American…. But in that case, they are black and Nigerian.
Is the term African American just divisive, does it knock a black person down to being worth half, only a half American…. After all, enslaved black people were dragged to America half the amount of time ago from white settlers…. Yet someone who’s great grandfather was German doesn’t get tagged “German-American”…… It’s BS, really!
I see why the term was embraced, many people want to be African, to be distinguished, however many people don’t identify with Africa at all… so why should they be badged as so?
These are just words on a page, spewed thoughts… I can’t wait to hear your views and ideas.
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.