Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm Not Hyphenated

This will more than likely piss some people off, but I really don't care. It's my own personal opinion, and this is my blog. Let me start by saying that I'm a women of a certain age. I'm older. Not ancient! Just older, in my fifties. Because of that, I remember a time when the term African-American was called Black. And Black people were proud of that. James Brown had us saying, "Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm proud!" But then something happened. In the early 90's there became this notion that the only way a Black person could be proud was to embrace that side of their ancestry. That one side. As a Black woman, I can't do that. There are so many sides, ethnic sides of my biological makeup that I don't want to exclude. And that is what I would be doing by taking up the African-American mantra.
Now, some Black people might look at me and say, "Oh, you're just not proud of where you came from." I'm very proud of where ALL of my ancestors came from. But they weren't only from Africa. Some were from France. Some were already in what would become America, the Native Indians. Some were intermixed with people from all over Europe and even South America if I'm so inclined to delve deep into my ethnic makeup. But if someone were to ask what "race" or "ethnicity" I come from, I wouldn't hesitate to say that I am a Black woman.
You see, for me latching onto the PC bandwagon and announcing that I'm African-American, makes me a hyphenated American. I'm an American that happens to be Black. I don't go around saying Italian-American, English-American, Asian-American, or Hispanic or Latino-American. So I wonder why in the case of Blacks in America we have decided to extricate ourselves from the whole of being American, to a separateness. We have since the early 90's pushed ourselves into a separate category solely based on the pigment of our skin.
I for one, have never been to Africa. Yet, the exclusionary measurement of being African-American is due to being able to trace your ancestral lineage to those Africans that were brought over to the New America as slaves, and by the pigment of our skin. But as a people, Blacks know that is not the only ethnic makeup we share. As an race, we are intermixed with so many different ethnicities; French, Native Indian, German, Spanish, English, Nordic, it spans the globe. So again I ask, why do we embrace ONE part of our ethnicity, yet reject all others?
During slavery, there was a "one-drop" rule. If it was found that a person had what could be deemed a drop of Black blood, they were deemed Black. That meant that if your Great-great-great grandmother was Black, then guess what Gordon, so were you. It didn't matter that you looked White, your wife was White, your children were White, they weren't any longer. That rule was demeaning to Blacks, because it delineated their ethnicity as something impure. Being mixed with Black was akin to being dirty.
Yet today, Black America has gone back to embracing that one-drop rule. If you are mixed with any other race it isn't relevant. Your are to check the box that says African-American. One drop. I'm not ashamed of being Black. I embrace my heritage whether it comes from African slaves, French immigrants, or Native Indians that were in America long before it was known as America. What I won't embrace is the exclusionary moniker that tells me to pick one. ONE! And because of the color of my skin, it better be African-American. But I pose a question. What do you call a White person from Africa that emigrates to America and becomes a citizen? An African-American? I refuse to be a hyphenated American. Say it loud! I'M BLACK AND I'M PROUD!!!

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