Thursday, December 9, 2010

Say It Loud!

Now I don’t claim to be the smartest man on the planet, I’m constantly learning something new. Something I’ve recently picked up, well I guess never thought about before, has to do with racial identification. Now I don’t mean profiling, more like, racial grouping.

For instance, I have some Asian friends that don’t consider Filipino people to be Asian. They see them as Latino or Islanders. I even heard them referred to as “jungle”, I thought that was funny. Every Filipino person I know looks Asian to me. But then again, I never thought of people from India being Asian, and they’re on the same continent. I was finding how some Central and South Americans have negative feelings about Mexicans, though they’re all Latin. There is this new wave of “in house racism”, discrimination within the race. This conversation went on for a little while until one friend asked me about the Black vs African American argument.

They were interested in why some people are offended by either term. Personally, I don’t care. But the one major point I tried to make was that black is a color…not an ethnicity. African Americans are a specific group of people, but not one specific race. African Americans are not Africans.

African Americans are made up of African, European, Native American and sometimes Latino blood. There isn’t one set formula or make up. Not one definitive origin. Black people are however simply a complexion. That differs from most people’s point of view, except African Americans.

Most other races of people see “Blacks” as African Americans, while most African Americans see “Black” as…black. Not based on ethnicity, race or origin, but by color. To most African Americans; Dominicans, Haitians, South Americans, West Indians…are all black, even if THEY don’t think so.There isn’t a difference. Someone can have no direct African roots, but if their skin complexion is dark…they’re Black.

Now this isn’t a rule or law, but common thinking. The contradiction is, if you ARE a descendent of Africa, in any percentage, you too are Black regardless of complexion. Confusing I know, but stay with me… This is why Halle Berry, Tiger Woods, Lenny Kravitz, even Prince are all recognized as being Black people, even though they have an equal amount of genes from another race. From Alicia Keys to Barack Obama, it’s all about the 1% rule. (If you’re 1% Black…you’re Black).

There was a time when people tried to go against the rule. They created the term “mulatto”, meaning a bi-racial (black/white) person. This term was never truly accepted because white people didn’t accept them as white, but treated them as black. Racism and bigotry placed all people of color into one pile, the 1% rule once again prevailed. So African Americans claimed all dark skin as well as African descended people. Sometimes you can find unification from division. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Drake, Vin Diesel, shoot even Al B. Sure are all Black within the eyes of the African American community. Yes they’re Black.

This is not designed to be the end all anthropological classification of race, I just thought it was an interesting topic to share. We should be proud of our heritage, culture, and background, but it shouldn’t be the only thing that defines us. Most people never knew Vin Diesel is half Black or Drake is half Jewish, does that change anything about them or how you see them?

If it does, then maybe the question isn’t, “what are they made of?” But “what are you?” Black, white, red, brown, yellow are all “just colors”, nothing more than a crayon. But unlike the crayon, our thinking shouldn’t be kept in a box. All of these subdivisions and classifications aren’t necessary. I’ll be the first to say, that as a whole, African Americans have not always acted or made the best decisions in relation to how to treat one another, but that point of claiming everyone isn’t a bad one. Let’s just take it a step further, past our color but to our true race, the human one.

Division equals destruction…we’re all in this together.

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