I was asked some time ago why I refer to black people as black people rather than African-American. I will explain my choice. And after all it is my choice.
When I last watched the Olympics, one of our intrepid “politically correct” announcers referred to an athlete from France, who incidentally was black, as an African-American athlete. I doubt to this day he has any idea of how stupid that was. Obviously, in his mind, he was being true to the correctness of the day. Wouldn’t he have been more correct to refer to the athlete as African-Frenchman? Had the athlete been from Peru, he would have to have been an African-Peruvian, using the vernacular of the day.
This has caused me to wonder at the whole idea of how we refer to different Americans and how they wish to be known. If one were black and didn’t want to be known as a negro, or a black, but preferred the hyphenated name, wouldn’t it make more sense to be called an African-North American? You know, continent to continent. French blacks would be called African-Europeans and Peruvian blacks would be known as African-South Americans.
Maybe, instead, Sudanese people who live here and are black should be known as Sudanese-Americans. Or Kenyan black people should be known as Kenyan-Americans. But what about the white people who come from Africa? I have a sister-in-law who, by today’s standards, should be called African-American. She was born in Morocco. She is not black but she did originate in Africa since Morocco is a country in Africa. Maybe she should be referred to as a Moroccan-American. Or maybe, just maybe, she and all others who choose to live in America and become Americans should be just referred to as Americans. That’s all, just Americans. She was naturalized and became an American citizen. Not only does she speak English, she became a teacher of English. She is an American through and through.
The story goes that when Columbus encountered natives upon landing in the new world, he called them Indians, thinking he had landed in the Indies. That worked for many years until someone somewhere decided that was incorrect. They should be known by the hyphenated name, Native-Americans. Well now that’s a problem. You see, I too was born in America so am I also a Native-American? I have a double problem. I have American Indian heritage. There is Cherokee Indian in my bloodline. So am I a Native-American Native-American? You can see the dilemma I face. I think I am having an identity crisis.
In the final analysis it doesn’t matter what you call yourself. Who you are is far more important than what you are. Where you are is far more important than where you are from. And where you are is in America. I believe if you choose to live in America you should choose to be an American. You don’t need to hyphenate yourself. That only serves to divide us further. I don’t care where you came from, I only care about who you are. If you would prefer to be an African, then move to Africa. We won’t miss you. I am an overweight, aging, white, male. No politically correct name or identity will change that. To some each one of those identifying characteristics is bad. Oh well. I am what I am, and I am okay with that.