links for 2011-02-21

  • "But that's too theoretical. There actually was a specific day and time I started to dismiss the term African-American as silly and misleading. It was after I heard Teresa Heinz refer to herself as an African American. Heinz, the wife of Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, happens to be a Caucasian woman. But she also can credibly claim to be African-American: She was born and raised in Mozambique, a country in the southeast of Africa.

    "As a naturalized U.S. citizen from an African country, Heinz has every right occasionally to refer to herself as an African-American. But for that reason, I will not do the same as it relates to me. If a wealthy, white, Bostonian — who shares little history or identity with me or people who look like me or from whom I am descended — can attached the appellation 'African-American' to herself, I think American black people should lay the term off to the side and move on."

  • "And you know, I remember that the first item on the You Cut website was to cut Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. And let me tell you what it does to women who cannot plan their parenthood: It derails their ability to complete education and training so they can get a job. The TANF is very harsh. It won’t even let women complete high school diplomas. It sends them into workfare programs in very low wage service industries, often in jobs without unemployment benefits, and of course they’re treated with contempt and disdain when they apply for any aid. They’re humiliated. And so I would beg my colleagues, I would beg them to not defund Planned Parenthood. Planned parenthood is healthy for women, it’s healthy for children and it’s healthy for our society.”
  • Maafriyie

    I must add and stress this: Most Africans I know do not call themselves African Americans. We usually say that we’re either Ghanaian American, Nigerian American, sometimes Black American etc etc.

    I have never used, nor have I ever heard anyone from a country in Africa refer to themselves as African America.
    So when I see people like Heinz and Theron getting called African Americans, I kind of give them a side eye because it almost seems like an excuse to self identify as African American.

  • umm…what

    I don’t agree with the “I’m not an African-American, I’m black” camp for a couple of reasons.

    1. The rise of that term effectively ended “African shame.” Even as people embraced the term black, which had been previously thought of as offensive, “African” was still problematic for many of us. The common use of the term African has done something that “black” couldn’t do, it centered the pre-colonial/slavery experience in our minds.

    2. All black people who are born in America or who immigrate here are by definition black Americans. I do not endorse any school of thought that makes certain people more American than others. Growing up, I was around people from all over the African diaspora who were as American as I was. When they would ask me what I was and I’d say “I’m black/”, they would say “Well we all are black. What are you?”. When I would ask them what they were, they would say “I’m Jamaican/Guyanese/Nigerian/Senegalese, ect.” I’d then say, “oh, well I’m African American” That term allowed me to indicate that I was the descendant of people enslaved in the US without implying that I was a “normal/regular black or American person, which could alienate people who were not of my particular extraction. I also found that those who had recently immigrated from Africa tended the self-identify by country (i.e Ghanian American as opposed to the more generic “African”). The same was true of those originating in the Caribbean. “African American” basically allowed me to clearly indicate my own identity without negating the Americanness of other groups of black people. I generally understand “African Americans” to be a subset of black people worldwide. It’s not about being “PC”, its just a term people (should) use for specific and informed reasons.

  • miga

    The Black not African American article is interesting- I definitely get where the author’s coming from, but at the same time I feel there is a connection in me and in all “children of the Diaspora” (for lack of a better term). We were robbed of our ancestry, no doubt about it- but I’m not letting it get away entirely, and I don’t want to ignore these cultural links that I am sure come from where my ancestors came many many generations ago.
    My friend and I were discussing this recently, and we agreed we both like Africana. It refers to all of the Diaspora, and denotes and respects where our deepest roots go, yet acknowledges our more recent history and the culture that came out of it.

  • STaylor in Austin

    I agree with the Black versus African-American designation. It speaks to the monolithic mindset “Westeners” have about Africa. It’s similar to the Asian-American tag; however as we know most people of asian descent know where they came from so it’s easier to correct the country of origin…most Black people in America were ripped from our homelands and don’t have any clue which countries are ancestors came from.

    African-American is also non-specific as the article mentions ( Heinz, Theron, etc). I have many Black Canadian friends who have to constantly correct people who call them African-American. It leads to a ridiculous African-Canadian, Afro-Canadian, etc discussion. In the end they ask to be called Black, and there is nothing wrong with Americans being called the same