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.