Filed Under:  Letter to the Editor, Opinion

Just call me ‘Black’

24th September 2012   ·   0 Comments

Dr. Ralph Bunche, the recipient of the 1950 Nobel Prize for Peace, referred to himself as Negro or Black. Dr. Bunche died before the term “African-American” became commonly used to give false racial identity to the descendants of enslaved Black in America. So why would anyone refer to him using that term? I suspect based on his writings, teachings and philosophy that he would have known that “African-Ameri­can” is a meaningless, made-up identity; a false identity; a divisive identity. The term “African-American” is as meaningless and nebulous as the outdated term, “colored” —but not nearly as inclusive.

Identifying Black descendents of slaves in America as “African-American” is no identity. Are all Africans Black? Are all Americans Black? So the term fails to accomplish its purpose. Africa is not a racial or ethnic identity. There is no country or commonality of Africa. There is a continent of Africa which has from 47 to 53 different countries. People from an African country will rarely identify themselves as “Afri­can.” They will identify themselves by the country or tribe they come from: Tutsi; Egyptian; Nigerian; Ethiop­ian; Tunisian; Liberian; Zulu; etc. “African-American” is as meaningless and wrong as identifying someone from South America as American.

“African-American” is used to falsify, mislead and sanitize the harsh truths of American history. I heard a professor spout-off that there were four million “African-American” slaves in the South before the Civil War. There were no “African-American” slaves in the South at anytime. What “American” rights and privileges did a slave hold? It is as false and misleading as describing slave quarters on plantations as sub-divisions; it is as false and misleading as referring to the Wright Brot­hers as astronauts. Refer­ring to Black people as “African-American” is a not-to-veiled attempt to brainwash and whitewash.

“African-American” perpetuates the self-segregation and class division of brown and Black people in America. Or put another way, it prevents the commonality of being brown and Black in America. Use of the term excludes brown and Black people in America who originate from India, Cuba, Australia, Baha­mas, Saudi Arabia, Pacific Islands, Haiti, Brazil, France, Spain Mexico, the Caribbean, Egypt and many other countries throughout the world. These brown and Black people who are not descendents of Black slaves in America reject and resent being refer­red to as “African-American,” but fully accept being Black.

There is a simple test: when you got on that bus in Alabama with Dr. Bunche would you have had to sit in the front or the back? There was no “African-American” section. Dr. Bunche referred to himself — and all of us in the back of that bus — as Negro or Black. Embrace the unity and genius of his simplicity.

– Charles Mosley

This article was originally published in the September 24, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

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