“We are not Africans. These people are not from Africa; they don’t know a thing about Africa . . . That is totally stupid. I was born here, and so were my parents and grandparents and, very likely, my great grandparents. I don’t have any connection to Africa, no more than white Americans have to Germany, Scotland, England, Ireland, or the Netherlands. The same applies to 99 percent of all black Americans as regards to Africa. So stop, already!! With names like Shaniqua, Taliqua and Mohammed and all that crap . . . And all of them in jail.”
The above is from Dr. William Henry Cosby, Jr., Ed.D. Otherwise known as simply, Bill Cosby. I must admit to a similar qualm that I’ve had ever since the “African-American” definition began to replace the term “black” as a cognitive for Americans of color. I’ve always felt a bit unease about it. How many Americans are actually “African-Americans?.” Not only that, how many know anything about Africa or its history? My father was a man of color from the Caribbean. He had brown skin and straight jet-black hair (the Caribbean Indian influence) while my mother’s ancestry is Italian. I am of mixed heritage, a mongrel, if you will and proud of it. I have no right to classifying myself as an “African-American.”
Perhaps President Obama could classify himself as such since his father was a Kenyan. But how many out there can claim the same? It reminds me of the old Barney Miller TV series in the 70s where one of the detectives, a black man naturally, decides to trace his family tree. This was during the time of the “Roots” mini-series TV phenomenon. Well, he discovers that his lineage is Scottish! How to explain that to his wife and kids?
When I was a young boy way back when, the appellation used was either “colored” or Negro. In the sixties Negro was discarded and “black” became the preference. It was a point of pride to refer to oneself as being “black.” Yet, in terms of biology there are three definitive DNA groups: Caucasoid (white), Negroid (black) and Asiatic. There is no African-American DNA reference, or even “colored” DNA reference.
Now, I don’t care what anyone wants to call themselves; it can Northwest Pacific Islander, or North African-Equatorial Arabist, or Martian, or other. But, at least have a point of reference. Humanity began on the Serengeti Plains of East Africa. Does that mean that someone from Norway is a “African-Norwegian,” or from China a “Chinese-African,” or if from Russia, an “African-Russian?” Labels can be deceiving, folks. Want to call yourself an “African-American?” It’s you choice and your right. But I’d rather think of all of us as being just plain Americans, and nothing less.