How you identify yourself in this country is one of the most personal, yet one of the most publicly discussed issues. While many of us frown on the idea of labeling and being labeled, society has an innate need to do just that.
So recently I had a very interesting conversation with a co-worker regarding whether I identify myself as “African American” or “Black”. Now, depending on who I’m around and what setting I’m in will determine whether I will use African American or Black. For me, the term African American at one time seemed like the perfect fit. I’m American obviously being born in California, but at the same time I had the desire to give honor to my African Ancestors. So what better term to use than that?
Well… once I realized that anyone who was born in Africa, (including “White” Africans) who moved to America could also use the term African American, it took some of the specialness away from the label. It was no longer just for us Black Americans who didn’t vibe with the label “Black American”.
Those of us who are descendants of slaves have been called more names than I care to list here, but for me I have always embraced the “Black is Beautiful” movement and although it is a color which clearly doesn’t represent a race of people, I view it as an homage to our rich culture and the rich color of brown in our skin.
The term African American for me is more of a political term now and I will use it as such. But in everyday talk, I’m a Black woman, with Black children, dealing with a society that continues to oppress Black people, and speaking on issues that effect my Black community.