Who Is and Isn’t an African American or Native American?


If you are a dark skinned individual, what do you like to be called?  Do you prefer African-American or black?

Ethnic labels have always been a sensitive and often racially charged issue for many.  What one group is called by another sometimes reflects prejudices and are meant to demean and degrade.

Those ethnic labels are once again becoming a topic of consternation among many.

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For instance, a growing number of blacks are taking exception to be referred to as African-American.  They prefer to be called black.

Some believe the term is holding them back and tying them to a period of time long past.  African-American is looking backward instead of looking to the present and future.  They want to move forward and show the progress they have achieved rather than be chained to prejudice and hate.

One young lady and her family were from Jamaica.  When she was introduced at an event as African-America, her family felt very insulted as they were proud of their Jamaican heritage.

Another black lady said that she prefers to be called black.  Her parents were from Mississippi and North Carolina and she is proud of that heritage.  In an interview she said that her parents never told her anything about Africa and that she doesn’t feel being labeled as African-American is correct.

Yet when any of the growing number of blacks have to fill anything out that asks about ‘race’ or ethnicity, the only choice they are given is African-American.

On the converse, I have some dear friends of mine that moved here from South Africa.  They are as light skinned as I am and they also take offense to the term African-American to exclusively refer to blacks.  Karel and his family are now US citizens and as such are true African-Americans.  He adds that most so-called African-Americans have not only never been to Africa, but have no idea where in Africa they are supposed to be from.

The same issue can be said about the term Native American.  American Indians demanded to be called Native Americans to designate that they were the original inhabitants of the country.  In reality, that may or not be true as there has been some archaeological evidence found that indicates that ‘whites’ or ‘Caucasians’ may have been here as early or earlier than most of the Indians, however, they do their best to suppress that information for obvious reasons.

But what is a Native American?  My father’s family has been in the United States since the late 1600s and I was born in New Jersey so that makes me a native American, doesn’t it?

On my dad’s side of the family I’m English and Scottish.  On my mom’s side I’m all German.  Using the current politically correct labels, should I not refer to myself as an English-Scottish-German-Native American?

In all honestly, the term race is not only offensive but it’s also incorrect.  We are all members of the same race, the human race.  We are all descendants of Adam and of Noah.  That makes us related to every person on earth.

Consequently, whenever I have to fill out anything that asks for race, I either write in ‘human’ or I leave it blank.  When referring to another person, why can’t we just say, him, her, that person, or something that does not involve color or ethnic origin?

If America wants to be a true melting pot, it would stop the use of all racial or ethnic terms and divisions.

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