On Racism, Being Black and Being Americans

Well, well, well. Looks like someone besides the FBI can determine that America is a racist country. The Associated Press has released a poll where they have documented over half of Americans surveyed are filled with anti-Black racism. This report is a smart bomb, knocking down the worthless arguments about not needing affirmative action or Historic Black Colleges as if they were obsolete castle walls surrounding bastions of ignorance. The whole purpose behind implementing affirmative action was to force the racists who would refuse stop discriminating against Blacks to provide equal opportunity and counteract past racial injustice. This report clearly reveals that the racism that caused affirmative action to be put in place still exists.

We are in a hostile environment. It has been hostile from the moment when the very first Africans were stolen from the motherland to slave for the benefit of others. From the moment when the Pope of the Catholic Church gave the Portuguese permission to replace the genocide depleted Native Americans with Africans. Anti-Black racism is the reason why Black men are presented in the media as predators, or conversely, either passive and somewhat superficial consumers, or as non-threatening service providers. Anti-Black racism is the reason why Black men are rarely an action hero and virtually never a romantic lead. Anti-Black racism is the reason why Black women are portrayed as welfare queens, prostitutes, with the best examples used as the objects of white male love interests. Why is every woman able to be an action hero except the Black woman? These are some of the cursory reasons why this debauched system of predatory capitalism is a failed system that is not worth becoming part of. Some whites have realized through self-interest that that racism is a no-win proposition. It doesn’t matter that these people may have no love for Blacks, as long as they are motivated by a love of justice and what is right, that is good enough. The problem, however, is that when they deem it is no longer in their best interest to love right and justice, they may revert to earlier malefactions. Can we trust in these groups to maintain self-interest in good and justice? The Associated Press poll indicates probably not. This is why we must act and negotiate American politics and society from a position of strength. We must learn to navigate and manipulate this society, but never become completely one with it.

Anti-black racism documented in the Associated Press report is a hallmark of western society, it has existed since before the days that Greeks called the first Africans they encountered “burnt faces”. This report is more proof that this society must be dealt with by Africans in America, but not fully assimilated by us. Yes, we are part Americans. Yes, our ancestors who were stolen to this continent have contributed mightily to the growth and expansion of western civilization in the Americas. Yes, we who are the descendants of the Africans who fought and died for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in this land have a stake to claim. But to paraphrase one of those old church saying, we must be in the western world but not of the western world. We must find the workable midpoint that will allow us to thrive in America as a people of African descent yet distance ourselves from the worst that western society has to offer. Likewise, while our African ancestry has a lot to offer us in the way of values and customs, it is also not without spot or blemish. Again, we must seek to cherry pick the best our ancestry has to offer. As we are a synthesis of African and European ancestry and culture, we must forge a way of life which is a synthesis of these two divergent world views. Polls produced like the one by the Associated Press are proof that we are still not fully accepted in this society. It should be motivation for Blacks to put aside petty differences and work together force this nation to respect us and to build a legacy to insure the chances of our future generations.

This synthesis of cultures is why the term African American should be acceptable to Blacks in the Americas. In one term we acknowledge our ancestry while claiming our place in America. While it doesn’t clearly reflect the life and struggle of being a Black man or woman in America, it does say that we have a place here. Some have argued that it is a vague term that neither includes the Africans in other parts of the Americas nor is able to clearly indicate which of the myriad countries and peoples of Africa we identify with. To the first argument I say ‘who says it doesn’t include Africans in other parts of the Americas?’ If we are stepping out to define who we are, this term not only can include other Blacks in the Americas, but actually should. We don’t have to adopt the typical elitism of the western society that postulates that the name America only applies to the United States. We can easily acknowledge the existence of South and Central America, as well as that there is more that one country in North America. Blacks in other parts of the Americas are our brothers and sisters in history and ancestry. We are all descendants of Africans abducted from the motherland and brought across the ocean to slave in the Americas. We are all African Americans. Secondly to the argument that the term is too vague with respect to our country of origin, I say, ‘so what?’ Nowadays, if you really want to find out which of the African peoples you descend from, you can pay a fee and have your DNA traced. Stripped of our original culture and heritage, we are Americanized Africans; African Americans. We should focus on the traits that are positive and common to Africans across the continent. After all, most of the divisions between Africans were artificially imposed by European colonizers and oppressors . Besides, no label on the Earth will detract from the fact that we are Black people, direct descendents from the first people on the planet. By stating we are African Americans, we are stating we know were we came from; who we are and that we have a stake to claim in where we live.

Comments are closed.