Open Thread: Are you black, American or African American OR Do Chuckles and Glitter Make Sense?

Today’s starter topic: What do you prefer to call yourself? The Black Snob obviously prefers “black,” otherwise I’d be “The African American Snob.” The Snob feels this way because despite her love and admiration of various African cultures, she knows she is not African in any sense of the word. Other than having some African ancestry, The Snob, like most black Americans, is a little bit of everything.

As John McWhorter once wrote:

Modern America is home now to millions of immigrants who were born in Africa. Their cultures and identities are split between Africa and the United States. They have last names like Onwughalu and Senkofa. They speak languages like Wolof, Twi, Yoruba and Hausa, and speak English with an accent. They were raised on African cuisine, music, dance and dress styles, customs and family dynamics. Their children often speak or at least understand their parents’ native language.

Living descendants of slaves in America neither knew their African ancestors nor even have elder relatives who knew them. Most of us worship in Christian churches. Our cuisine is more southern U.S. than Senegalese. Starting with ragtime and jazz, we gave America intoxicating musical beats based on African conceptions of rhythm, but with melody and harmony based on Western traditions.

Also, we speak English. Black Americans’ home speech is largely based on local dialects of England and Ireland. Africa echoes in the dialect only as a whisper, in certain aspects of sound and melody. A working-class black man in Cincinnati has more in common with a working-class white man in Providence than with a Ghanaian.

I gotta say, The Snob agrees with McWhorter on this one. And the many African kids I went to college with second that. They thought us American blacks were effing nuts. But to be fair, most of the black Americans I knew at my college thought they ate dogs and smelled funny so everyone was being a bigoted asshole all the way around. A few of us became friends despite the fact that our respective groups were ignorant as hell about each other.

While I use both terms interchangeably, I prefer black because it makes more sense. Besides, white people, who chose to be called white, seem to be pretty comfortable with their catch-all term for Americans of various European ancestry. As for the term American, I was married to a former Marine from a military family who resented being called an American. I, like most black people, have mixed feelings. I’m proud to be an American but I’m not blind to our history in this country. America hasn’t exactly been a pleasure cruise for us former beasts of burden. But what do you think? What do you call yourselves? How do you feel about being “American?”

Or, discuss this as a starter:

Do Glitter and Chuckles make sense as a couple to you? I didn’t get it at first. Now I’m warming up to it. It’s hilarious to me now (obviously), and I hope Mariah has found the My Little Pony of Happiness she always desired after previous relationships (Tommy Mottola’s old ass, Derek Jeter, Eminem’s dysfunctional, hateful ass …) crashed and burned. But she’s a child at heart and he’s almost a child. But does it make sense to you? Did you always see Nick or Mariah with someone, ANYONE, different? Who would you have matched them up with? I thought she and my fair Wentworth Miller were “hawt” in “We Belong Together,” but they totally didn’t belong together. I want Wenty to either steal Paula Patton from Robin Thicke or wrap himself up in the Grey Fox of CNN, Anderson Cooper.

Your thoughts?

59 thoughts on “Open Thread: Are you black, American or African American OR Do Chuckles and Glitter Make Sense?

  1. My response is directed at S0uLD33P:Have you ever thought to realize that if the “Africans today in America separate themselves from Blacks”, that additionally means that “Blacks” (as you refer to non-Africans) maybe very well be separating themselves as well. I’ve heard people make such outrightly wrong statements before and its sad. Instead of looking at these people as “the Africans”, why not look as them as fellow members of the beautiful black race. Yes, black people as a whole have many issues, but I feel and know that the way to go about solving them is to STOP making such comments. It only will continue to hurt and further separate our people instead of unite us. In addition, maybe the reason why they speak their language amongst each other or as you put it, “avoid speaking English”, is because they simply feel they can express themselves better in their language. Or maybe they just choose not to speak English at particular time. Do people make the argument that Spanish-speaking groups “avoid speaking English”. No! And that is fine, but why when it comes to the “Africans”, it should not be any different. Being that my mother is Kenyan and my father is Kenyan, such ignorant comments annoy me. They further prove that although we have come a long way, we still have a much longer way to go.I too attended a school with black people of many cultures, traditions, and religions. Embracing such differences will allow us all to realize that WE are more similar than WE are different. Thanks.

  2. I am black. I like that black is a cultural identity and it’s the culture that i’m a part of. Black is also a term that implies my kinship to other people of the African diaspora throughout the world. I’m proud to be black and even though stereotypes abound it’s ok. I am also against the term African American b/c it seems to me to be more about fracturing identities than about unity. To be a hyphenated anything others people and not in a good way. The beuaty in labelling is that despite the overall problematic stereotyping that occurs, I do have the power to label myself. I have the power, through labelling, to claim my identity and confirm my existence. That is why slave narratives often begin with “I was…” or “I am…” claiming myself is the ultimate act of identity formation.

  3. what is a white person to do? Seriously – no matter what they say – they are going to offend somebody!

  4. Anonymous @8:51, don’t sweat the small stuff. All you have to do is approach someone with a fair and respectful attitude, the same way you want to be treated. I would just say either black or African-American. If they give you a preference, try to abide by it. People like to attack being politically correct, when most of the time it just means being respectful. Nothing wrong in that. I’m sorry to say this, but there’s a lot of coarseness in the American culture, and some people don’t know how to be nice. Don’t believe me, read the comment lines on the internet and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s the pioneer thing that forced people to be tough and hard. I wish, however, that we had a kinder, gentler nation.

  5. My mother is west indian and my father is african american. I identify more with west indian culture because my father was never around but if someone called me african american I wouldn’t mind.To me african american just means someone who is of african descent who is a citizen of the united states.Black people in general tend to seperate themselves from those who are not like them.Africans seperate themselves from AA and vice versa.The only reason we look the way we do is because are ancestors are african or mostly african.If we find out that we have euroopean ancenstry we will tout that and embrace it but when it comes to african ancestry we run away from it even though we don’t know much about european culture either.

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