The Thread For 3/3/14: The (Needed) End of The Phrase 'African-American"
Of the mini dynamics of blacks winning last night at the 2014 Academy Awards was the always intriguing usage of the phrase "African-American" and how its life span should be in grave condition.
Last night, some white controlled media organizations forgot to do their simple two second research and see that Steve McQueen is not an American (thankfully that wasn't the case with Lupita Nyongo from what I have seen). It was such a lazy display that was simply all too predictable and how the term "African-American" has morphed as a second meaning of 'black' in American society.
Hey @MSNBC Steve McQueen is not African American. He's British. Really, it's OK to just call him black.
— gwen ifill (@gwenifill) March 3, 2014
But... he's British. RT @RollingStone: #12YearsASlave's #Oscars win makes it the 1st time a film by an African-American has won Best PictureMSNBC and Rolling Stones were apart of the several organizations who make this painful gaffe, resulting it something that should have long been the case: The phrase African-American must be buried, and last night was its belated funeral.
— April (@ReignOfApril) March 3, 2014
For too long, blacks of all kinds in America have been lumped as a monolith for PC/euphemism purposes. "Black" was used for a long time as not a description but another racist epithet used by white society through our country's shameful early days, integrating nicely with "nigger" at any moment.
Even in current times, "black" can be used so awkwardly still. Sir Birther hairpiece's (Donald Trump, who added to his legendary tomfoolery last night) quote of "I've been friendly to 'the blacks '" a few years back resonates of a white privileged clown still occasionally uncomfortable with darker shades of people. And Lord knows how many still bring pejorative sentiments when they begin a sentence with "those black people."
They really are quite funny when they start the sentence displaying their irrational and disturbing hate.
But "black" now and always will be a description that you can't ignore, that you can't be willingly blind to if your 20/20 vision or glasses are firmly in tact. If "white" is freely used and embraced, then the same standards must apply to "black" as well.
And the limitations of "African-American" dilute the full history of one's origins. It would be a real shame if we just said European American for all white Americans as the proper term, simplifying a history of English, Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Greek and Italians, among others.
It's already a real shame that has transpired with Nigerian, Kenyan, Ghanian, Somalian, Togolese, Ivorian, Sudanese, Moroccan, and Caribbean backgrounds, and it is something that must end.
Caribbeans are the most vocal about it, because it is again a forced amalgamation of national and cultural identity that leads to the racist and ignorant to label the black culture as unsophisticated.
The Jamaican and Haitian are as different as the Swede and the Swiss.
Now of course the American black maybe disinterested in their ancestors' past beyond their (forced) arrival to these stolen American shores. But don't rob an American black person's desire to see what their background truly is.
It's okay to say the word 'black' liberal non-black friends and those who aren't. We again, for the umpteenth time, will not label you a racist or an idiot for doing so.
But I say today that I wish the term African-American became as common as seeing Woody Allen at Farrow's family functions.
However, the likelihood of that happening is about as slim as black screenwriters' like John Ridley suddenly becoming the needed norm in Hollywood.