I am not an African-American. Don’t call me an African –American. I’m an American plain and simple. I was born here as were my parents and grandparents and you would have to search many a generation back before you found anyone in my family who originated from the continent of Africa. It’s time black people in this country stop trying to identify with a land whose culture is not their own. It’s time we stand up and say “This land is our land” and let everyone know we have a right to this country as much as anyone.
I understand the need for black people in America to find an identity all their own. We are as displaced as a people can be. Brought here in the early seventeenth century, first as indentured servants then as slaves the richness of culture these individuals brought from their various tribes was systematically ripped away from them.
Maybe in calling ourselves African-American we feel we can retrieve some of that richness that is lost to us and was stolen from our people so long ago. However the atrocities of the past are just that, the past and trying to identify with lost cultures isn’t going to help us achieve the respect and prosperity that has alluded us for so long in a country that is still hostile to those of African descent.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way suggesting we forget about the past. It’s important to study and learn from your forefathers’ triumphs, mistakes and pain. Continuously changing our identification however, is not the best way to use that knowledge. We’ve had several “identities:” from Colored to Negro, Black and now African-American.
How can we expect anyone else to know who we are if we’re not sure of our own identity? How can we expect to come together as a people if we can’t agree on something as simple as to what to call ourselves? Hell the government is not even sure who we are if the 2000 census form was any indication with their Black, Negro, African-American non-hispanic category.
I say dispense with all of the confusion. We’re American. The sweat of our brow helped build this country. Benjamin Banneker a black man, helped design the white house. Something as simple as the traffic light and as life saving as the blood transfusion were created by black people. Americans. From music, to dance, to literature we have given much more to this country then it has have ever given to us. We can be proud in simply calling ourselves Americans because we have more then earned that right. It’s time we make use of it.
I was once asked if I viewed myself as an American first and black second. The answer is as long as America views me as black first then I’ll always be American second. But I’ll never be anything other then American, plain and simple.
(C) 2005 Tamika Johnson
Tamika Johnson is a freelance writer and owner of PrologueReviews.com. To read more reviews by Tamika or to have your book, music or film reviewed visit http://www.prologuereviews.com