Recently I was blasted for using the term Black to define the area of study I wanted to cover on the website I have created, Black History Month 2014.
I have chosen to use that experience as a teachable moment in the hopes that a meaningful dialogue will ensue.
The issue of who we are and how we think of ourselves as a people, I believe is at the core of our inability to unify and bring power to bear for change in our communities.
What am I? “Black”, “Afro-American”, “African-American” or “Colored”.
In my response to the comments on Facebook, I posted a quote from Donna Brazille.
I’ve had to check several different boxes in my lifetime,” said Donna Brazile, former Democratic campaign manager in the 2000 presidential race. “In my birth certificate I’m identified as a Negro. Then I was black. Now I readily check African-American. I have a group of friends and we call ourselves the colored girls sometimes, to remind ourselves that we aren’t too far from that, either.
Let’s step back for a moment and radically simplify the issue.
Yes, the word “black” is a color. It can be used as an adjective or as a noun.
When the Native Americans encountered the first Africans, how did they describe them?
According to Christopher Columbus himself, in his journal of the Second Voyage, he reported that “when he reached Haiti the Native Americans told him that ‘black-skinned people’ had come from the south and southeast in boats, trading in gold-tipped medal spears.”
As they did not know the specific country of origin of these “dark-skinned” people, they referred to them using descriptors that would be readily understandable. They described the Africans they had encountered as “black-skinned” people.
The same could be said of the North American Natives who encountered the first Europeans. They described them as “white-skinned” or they identified them by their hair color in some instances – “yellow”.
I suggest you read, What Constitutes a Negro, A Review of Legal Statutes (you can download below!)Hybrid Connect Error : Connector could not be found
Who Is Black? One Nations Definition.
Below is a short excerpt from the PBS special. It discusses the “one-drop” rule.
To be considered black in the United States not even half of one’s ancestry must be African black. But will one-fourth do, or one-eighth, or less? The nation’s answer to the question ‘Who is black?” has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry.
This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person a black. It is also known as the “one black ancestor rule,” some courts have called it the “traceable amount rule,” and anthropologists call it the “hypo-descent rule,” meaning that racially mixed persons are assigned the status of the subordinate group.
This definition emerged from the American South to become the nation’s definition, generally accepted by whites and blacks. Blacks had no other choice. As we shall see, this American cultural definition of blacks is taken for granted as readily by judges, affirmative action officers, and black protesters as it is by Ku Klux Klansmen.
You can review it in its entirety here: Onedrop
When my partner Darlene Dancy used the term Black in certain Facebook groups, it was to identify any of various dark-skinned peoples, especially those of Africa, Oceania, and Australia.
We make no claim that peoples of African descent or people on the continent of Africa are a monolithic group. However for the purpose of describing a particular group of people, our target audience, we chose the term “Black.”
Moreover, it is our belief that the term, African-American, is commercially and politically motivated descriptor that has no historical relevance in dialogue.
“The term African-American has crept steadily into the nation’s vocabulary since 1988, when the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a news conference to urge Americans to use it to refer to blacks. “It puts us in our proper historical context,” Jackson said then, adding in a recent interview that he still favored the term. “Every ethnic group in this country has a reference to some land base, some historical cultural base. African-Americans have hit that level of cultural maturity.”
Different people have different ways of expressing and understanding this very term” Black” it is a very touchy subject to many. What are your thoughts how do you define yourself?
The aim of our website is to unify our people in solidarity in the exploration of historical facts that will educate, motivate and empower us. We curate content from a multitude of source with an emphasis on black scholarship.
To have some people unwilling to engage in a platform simply because it uses the term “Black as the connector” seems callous. It is this tendency toward divisiveness that continues to separate us.
We will continue to reach out to people of African descent to promote understanding, knowledge and unity?
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