Wednesday, January 15, 2014


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.

Ron Scarbro


Jwo- said...

Hahaha! I loved it...AMEN! I've never called a black an African-American. They're black, I'm white and the only African-American I can think of is Charleze Theron...oh wait, Ernie Els...other than that, I'm a dry hole. That was a well written piece, Ron. BTW, now that I've got a working laptop again.....I'm baaaaaaack...



CAB said...

I was born in Puerto Rico, and by grace of God I am a Republic of the UNITED STATES of “America” citizen (When in doubt open your passports and read what it says under “Nationality”). In Spanish we have a term for the group of people who live in the United States. They are called Estadounidenses! From Estados Unidos de America (Google Translate it). My generation in Puerto Rico does not call the people who lives in the United States, Americans, we call them Estadounidenses. Just like we call Canadians, Canadienses and Mexicans, Mejicanos. Only by recent generations the term Americanos have become popular amongst Puerto Ricans.
The question is, What is an American? I mean really? My wife who is Colombian, well is she an American? I think so! After all she was born in South “America”! How about Mexicans? It is North America! I mean by definition all the citizens of the American CONTINENT are by default Americans.
Not so funny fact, I was never exposed to racism on all my 21 years I lived in PR. Only until I moved to the US I experienced firsthand what racism is. I am by definition white, some of my friends think I am one of those Big Italian Guys (Forget about it!). But some of my cousins are black, my grandfather was a mestizo, and some of my best friends where I went to church where black, nevertheless we saw each other as Puerto Ricans, not African-Americans or White or Indians or what have you. And I remember them and our gatherings very dearly.
I think it is ridiculous that here in this country there is such a distinction and DIVISION amongst racial lines. Honestly more so from one side that from the other (not saying what side but I will leave you BET Network as a clue). It is disturbing to witness and sickening to feel. I wish that one side would put down the walls, and see that the other side is trying to work things out. I wish that in true Star Trek fashion there was a melding of cultures and an assimilation of races. But I think it will require divine intervention to see this come true.
Anyway it was a great article Ron, I enjoyed reading it.