There is an implicit divide between human groups that brings about tension, military conflicts, and of course national debates. Many of these schisms reach into the history books thousands of years, while others can be the result of a misunderstanding between two friends, family members, or gangs. But what happens when the divide is the result of historic shame that evinces itself to this day. From an outsider’s point of view, we as Black people are sometimes perceived to come in one size, shade, and package ready to be misconstrued, commercialized, and stereotyped. But of course there exists tremendous diversity among us; but how do we interpret and assuage the cycle of generalization among a group that we hail as magnificent?
Though I was not born in the U.S., I have lived throughout the Northeast; I have family from D.C. to Alabama, friends from Maine to Hawaii, and jargon from business professional to hood fab. Despite my immigrant roots, I am just as American as any (Black) person. In addition to my unwavering allegiance to America, I have a clan of family members back in my land of origin. When I say home, I do not speak of a residential building with a driveway and a fence. Instead I refer to a nation that I love, but never had the opportunity to know.
I am Nigerian American, you can say African American, but bottom line I am still Black. Nonetheless, I still get asked the usual questions of whether or not I traveled here on a boat/raft or I have AIDS, or even if I subscribe to the various terms of derogation. On the other hand I had my White peers probe me for hip-hop trivia, ‘gangsta’ apparel, or claiming to be ‘blacker’ than me because I did not cede to their trifling definitions of ‘black’. Eventually, I abandoned all of the labels, surrendering to my humanity; the only problem was humanity comes in shades and shapes that must be individually recognized and embraced. Who are we to define humanity by our own experiences, while disregarding differences like liberal conservatives?
Though I feel that every Black person on this planet is from Africa, It is not my place to tell someone what to identify with.
Though I feel that every Black person on this planet is from Africa, It is not my place to tell someone what to identify with. The scourge of slavery has taken a toll on every person who knows its history; contrary to what many might think, my ancestry is marred by oppression, colonialism and slavery. Though I think ignorance is contagious and pallid suburbs are breeding grounds for bigotry, I too was in a place where ignorance was the warm milk of complacency from which I mechanically swallowed.
At the end of the day, amidst my pondering and head scratching, I am still Black; and to the outsider we are all Black, just like Asian Americans are all considered Chinese, Hispanic Americans are Spanish, Native Americans are Indian, and European Americans are just American. There is no point debating light vs. dark, nappy vs. curly, or African born vs. African removed; we are all glorious human beings who have the pleasure of being Black.