You Can Be African American But I’m Black

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On January 5th 2016 on the view Whoopi Goldberg stated she isn’t African-American. I agreed with her and made a statement on The Grio an online newspaper.

My statement:

I didn’t come from Africa. I was born and raised here. Like Whoopi my ancestors were here since the 1700’s. I am black and American. Whoopi didn’t say she wasn’t black She said she wasn’t African America. I agree with that.

You wouldn’t believe the thread that followed. I don’t know if these people could comprehend what I was saying or what Whoopi said. But, we were accused of not embracing our heritage, of denying our blackness. That was so way off the mark. We were accused of trying to get favor from white people who they say at the end of the day will only see us as just another N***er.


I tried to tell them that I know everyone originated from Africa but Africans have no love for black Americans. America is the only country I know. So I don’t prescribe to being African-American. White people aren’t called European American. Only people of color have to put their origin before America. So why would you want to be a bastard of a country your ancestors built with their blood, sweat, and tears? I believe being call African-American is saying you don’t belong. I belong.

I kept repeating I know my heritage. I expressed that Africans explored every corner of this earth while white people were still in the caves of Europe. I know who I am and I know very well how white people see me. My white blood family denied me so I know most white strangers have no love for me. (I have great relationships with many white people who share my quest for love, peace and happiness for all humankind.) I just can ignore a chance to try to uplift my “black” people.

With that in mind most white people can trace their heritage back hundreds of years back on paper. Not many American blacks can do that. I know I can’t. My family history only goes back to about 1760 something. I couldn’t trace any further so MY history started here. Therefore, I demand the right to be American without having to put African before it. It is not a denial to my heritage. Are the people who came by way of the Mayflower the only people who can be called Americans without whomever in front of it? Even the Indians who were on American soil first are called Native American.

I was told I can trace my DNA back to my origins. Yes for a fee, but I can’t pull out paper records and  follow a trail to my great, great, great, great, great, grandfather and tribe. The DNA will point me to the area of where my Africa bloodline began. Will it find my family? I don’t know I’m really asking. (Editing as I copy and paste from the thread.)

My father was from Spain, my grandmother on my mother’s side father was “native” American and her grandmother’s mother was “negro” according to the records. I’m not sure about her grandfather I traced him back to a manifest that stated he came from the Caribbean but I’m not sure, that’s where the records stop. Everyone came from the cradle of civilization I told  he person I addressed this comment to.

Other comments made on the thread.

Kimberly, I would have to respectfully disagree with you. I have white friends that call themselves Italians, Irish? They celebrate St. Patrick ’s Day and say I am Irish, I correct them and say you weren’t born in Ireland, you were born in America. I also have friends that say that they are Italian, and I say you weren’t born in Italy you were born in America. So there is a double standard.

My response was Okay I can go with that but they can trace their heritage back to their country. Black folks can’t do that.

Then came this comment of reason:

Most of you are missing the point… Whoopi is saying that they (the government) cannot deport her anywhere because she was born and raised here… along with her parents and others in her family. We as black people are so quick to tear each other down and FOR WHAT?!?!? Because she said she is an AMERICAN? If you are so hurt that she didn’t put the word African in front of it, then maybe you need to look in the mirror and define yourself and not your race. Whoopi knows she’s black, she has fought battles (And won) that has made a way for other people of color to do even more extraordinary things than she has done. You are more than your skin color… I am an American… Yes I have African decent, but that decent does not define me. And it doesn’t define YOU! And if you think it does then you are a part of the problem!


Then I had this comment:

It doesn’t matter if you kill the leader of al Qaeda, White people WLL NOT consider you an American

So I responded . . . It’s not about what they consider us to be. It’s what we know we are. They brought us here so they need to deal with it. Our people have fought and are still fighting for our rights as American citizens.

Finally, I said this, but it wasn’t my last.  I kept going back to see what people were saying and I responded.

This will be my last response. I don’t reject my African heritage. I am at least 4th generation American and prefer being called American. I don’t know where some of you get that I am looking for love from white people is the reason I prefer black. That is so far off the mark. White people don’t care what we call each other.  That is our issue. I love my people and wish only for us to be uplifted. I would think those who prefer to be called African-American are looking for white acceptance. Malcolm X introduced the title African-American and we rejected it in the 60’s and 70’s. They, white America tried to call us Afro-Americans we weren’t having that so they pushed African-American on us with Jessie Jackson’s assistance. Other nationalities embrace being called whomever American but they are accepted as Americans. Fill out any application and they ask for race It’s white not European American, not Italian American, Irish American just white. Only black people are associated with being African-American. Despite that, while white people were in the caves of Europe, Africans were traveling the sea exploring and settled all over this earth. Yet we are still considered African by virtue of our skin color. My choice to be called black and American does not mean I am looking to be accepted by white people. It says that I am their equal. As I said my ancestors built this country which makes it mine, which makes me American. Read the threads I’ve said the same thing over and over.

The Africans that came to this country 30 years ago looked down on Black Americans they saw us as being uncouth, loud, disrespectful, untrustworthy, uncultured and ignorant. I know this because I worked with foreigners for over 25 years and we conversed. Not only did Africans think like this, others of the darker hue from other countries did too. That is because like white folks they don’t understand the black American experience. I have many African friends and their thoughts vary. Regardless if you prefer to be called black or African-American the struggle to be respected and treated as equal is real. No matter what race or nationality we are we are all human and the ultimate goal should be that we should not have to be labeled. So when I fill out those applications I check other and write human. Until all around the world gets that, I am American and my race is black. I wish all of you peace in this world of turmoil.

The following is in response to another statement made to me.

I just saw your post saying not to reject African-American because white people don’t like it. They are the ones who want you to call yourself that. They were calling us Afro-American and we rejected that because an Afro is a hair style. We were called so many names that white people gave us. When Malcolm X introduced the phrase African-American back in the late 60’s early 70’s black people rejected it. (Read the Autobiography of Malcolm X) We were black and we were proud not Afro or African-American. Then comes the late 80’s maybe early 90’s and Jessie Jackson rejected black and pushed African-American and before you know it they changed it on employment applications, public assistant applications, tax returns whatever kind of application to that wanted to know out race changed from black to African-American. White people wanted us to be called African-American to keep us divided. It’s a reminder that we don’t belong.  But I do my ancestors blood sweat and tears are soaked in the soil of North America.

Other comments made by other people on the thread:

I am an African and I like the fact that they say African-Americans, but why don’t they also call whites – European Americans? It’s like some Americans are more American than others. That title African-Americans though I like it because it attached black Americans to their ancestry but if white ancestry from Europe was to use it too it would have been right. Using it only for blacks is like they are not full Americans and only the whites are. It will take a very big political debate to change that.

Kimberly Wilhelmina Floria this is an African speaking…hear it firsthand….I got all the love in this world for you sis…not only you, but the African Diaspora…Jamaica, Haiti, Columbia, Brazil, Middle East….one love

Most of my regular readers know I admit when I’m wrong. I couldn’t find my response on the thread but on the morning of 1/6/16, I spoke to my African friend from Guinea. He said Africans love Black Americans that we are their family that was taken from Africa and made slaves.  When I stated African didn’t like Americans I responded to their behavior to Black Americans thirty years ago. My friend told me that they feared us, because they didn’t understand us and distanced themselves.  So I was responding to vibes I felt from Africans.

No matter what you call it, you are still a bastard of a country your ancestors built, and your children and their children to come. We will never be accepted. Further, you stated black Africans don’t like black Americans, but what about white Americans??? They don’t like us much either, but you want to share the same moniker as them?

My response was . . . I’ve had these views for over 40 years. I remember being called colored. I know where African-American came from Malcolm X suggested it back in the 60’s. Jessie Jackson pushed it in the 80’s/90’s. Yes, many said they weren’t African, I wasn’t one. I know my heritage but I prefer black and yes I am American. I was born and raised here, my family’s blood, sweat and tears soak these soils. I am Black and I am proud and I am America. I have just as much right as any American.

I agree with you and Whoopi. I am just an American, and this does not mean I do not know who I am and what my folks had to endure to make sure I was treated equally. I live in China, and the Africans that I have encountered, black and white, do not like it when we call ourselves African-Americans

The only reason Whites don’t put European in front of American is because that would confirm that they took this country from its rightful owners. They like people to believe that this was their land first thus why put European in front of American. And what’s Africans not liking American Blacks have to do with calling yourself African-American? Do you know why supposedly Africans don’t like American Blacks? It’s because they were fed propaganda that American Blacks didn’t care about them and their plight in Africa. They were told that American Blacks didn’t identify with Africa because they were in the “Great United States” where they were living the high life. Little did they know, huh. They didn’t want Black people united, that would be dangerous, that’s why “America is the only country you know.” I don’t care how far back you or Whoopi want to say your ancestors go in America, the only reason that Black people are in America is because they were brought here as slaves mostly from the West Coast of Africa. Look up why mostly they were brought here from the West Coast of Africa and you might want to re-think the whole “I’m American” thing

That last comment was well thought out but still was off the mark.  For some reason most of the people who followed the thread associated preferring to be called black as

  1. Denying our heritage. That is very wrong. We know where we came from and who we are.
  2. We want to be accepted by white people and that’s why we want to be called black. This is 2016 there are whites that wear sheets and terrorize non-whites and feed on hate. There are whites that truly don’t see the color of a person’s skin but humanity when they see a human. If we get more of those kinds of people black and white then we as a race of people and evolve.
  3. They think we don’t know history and that’s why we reject African-American label. Malcolm X introduced African-American when he returned from going to Africa/Middle East. But it was rejected.  African American was the author of a book of Two Sermons around 1780 something. Jessie Jackson choice this title for us and was accepted by many.  I don’t and it’s not because I don’t know my history.
  4. Some of them on the thread think that I hate my blackness. This I laugh at. I have always written in support and the uplifting of black people.

Please note that if you go to read the thread on The Grio I edited my words and made minor corrections to the comments.

Those who choose to be called African-American resorted to name calling and typing in all caps.  If they have the love of their heritage they really should learn to communicate. By first reading, if that’s the way we are communicating and second learn not to feel the need to belittle people when trying to convince others to agree with them.

In conclusion, I remember during my grandmother’s generation when we started using black it took a long time for her to stop saying colored to describe black people.  Maybe I’m set in my ways but I think Smokey Robinson says it best.”>

37 thoughts on “You Can Be African American But I’m Black

    1. Lol. The world would be such a better place if we saw each other before one of us did something great or admirable. I think everyone is Rosy’s frien, she is such a pure hearted soul.

  1. I was born in the US – 1st gen on my dad’s side – 2nd gen on my maternal gpa’s side, 3rd gen on my maternal gma’s side.
    People here want to call me Mexican-American, Latino or Hispanic. I go to Mexico & people will say I’m a gringa.
    Simply put – I’m Rosy.
    And my “poor” kids – if we get to what they are supposed to be – well – how about a blend of this & that… Greek, Irish, Polish, Mexican & who knows what else. And – really – what is a Mexican anyway? We are a mix of European (mostly Spanish) & native “Americans.”
    I know – a bit off topic. But – I hope you get where I’m going with this. 😉

    1. Yes I get it. Like me you’re a bowl of soup. A little of everything mixed in. For me my mother’s side can only go back 4 generation. I guess if I went back 8n I may be able to go back further. My father’s parents migrated from Spain in the 20’s. Me I was born here that makes me American. Well you read. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your input.

  2. Thanks Kimberly, I will read it properly again – there is so much. But straight off, the gist of your argument is sound and necessary. I had no idea of the influence of Malcolm X and Jesse Jackson perpetuating this division …

  3. For many folk of course this is “much ado about nothing”. (What colour/nationality was whoever wrote Shakespeare I wonder?) For others it is of enormous importance. I enjoy some aspects of “being” (temporarily) English; other aspects? Not so much. Last time round I was Chinese. What goes around comes around. And round and round. Our bodies are costumes. Please waken now, all those who identify too closely with their current costume. Suits of clothes never fall in love. Spirit does not need to. Overkill.

  4. It’s always interesting to read the arguments and thoughts behind African-American and Black. I grew up in the times when the black people were trying to figure out what to call themselves and my question was always the same. Why not just ‘Americans’ because that is what you are. I’m half ‘Native American’ and I can remember when we were just Indians or in my childhood ‘those dirty Indians’. We have all had a past from somewhere else. Why can’t we just be ‘people’? When we start calling ourselves other things is when the dividing starts. Let’s end the divisions and just call ourselves (everyone from America) Americans. What difference the color of our skins should be NO difference.

  5. Oh My Kimberly.. what I love is how you handled what your responses were.

    . At the end of the day it matters not where you are from, so much as who you are… And how you feel within your own skin regardless of creed or skin colour.. We are a family of the Human Race. A fact I think many forget as they fail to look in the mirror at their own prejudices as they label and point fingers…

    Let those who name call and are so opinionated go… What really matters here is how you feel.. and you are honouring who you are..
    And I love you.. 🙂 and I am white from the UK.. whose probable ancestors ruled many a region in the old Empire..
    Now the UK is being ruled and overrun by so many other nations our own English heritage is being lost. Yet this is I feel our countries Karma.. We ruled and overpowered so many other countries during our history.. Now we are being overruled and overrun by those from overseas.. 🙂

    All things eventually balance.. Love and wishing you a great weekend stress free and peaceful.. Hugs
    Sue xxx

            1. During this thread. I tried to stand my ground and be respectful. So good that I try to stop before I press send. So my words didn’t be little anyone. You don’t get your point across that way.

  6. We are ALL from Africa, originally. It has been scientifically proven, so do we call ourselves, white, brown, yellow, black African Americans?
    I am Canadian of British Heritage with a little Irish thrown in so I can have a temper tantrum now and then and blame my ancestors, but here in Quebec, because we are so diverse, it is never enough information to say “I am Canadian” – everyone wants to pin-point the source. I am first generation so it is fair to say that I am first generation Canadian, as both my parents and my brother and sister were immigrants. An easy fix to that pinpointing for you Kim, is that you are, by my calculations based on a generation being 25 years, 10th Generation American. I rest my point with yours and you now have a straight answer with no squabbles about it.
    The references to colour have to be packed away right now. We are well into the 2000s and we as a society should know better!!

    1. 25 generation is a good number but honestly I can only follow my family back is generation for me and the youngest child is 8th generation. The paper records stop for us. Ancestry says come back and we can help you find your family. They may be able to but Even $20 is too much a month. 😉

      1. I agree on the charge part. They have to make money but it is a bit extreme isn’t it? I had my DNA tested at 1-2-3, who puts me in touch with ‘relatives’ but have had no connections that are close to being meaningful. There is no monthly fee but rather a one time upfront charge. Originally, I did it to gather my gnomes which I have and now have NO idea what to do with the report! I thought it would answer some health concerns better than it did. Is the initial search free with Ancestry?

  7. Kim, many thanks for your well written remarks. Your words are both heartfelt and thoughtful. I know there are exceptions as you note, but most white people do not add an identifier of their origin in front of the word American. From my experience, if they do it would be in response to a question about the roots of a name or a where they grew up. I applaud both you and Whoopi Goldberg for sharing what you think As an individual, you can define how you view yourself and what you wish to be called, so for those crying foul, you can cease the argument with this point. Great and informative post. Thanks, Keith

    1. Thank you, Keith I spent two days talking back and forth on the subject. People are still responding but I’m leaving it alone for now. I did this between two doctor appointments and cooking dinner while trying out my new coloring book for adults. I guess I was tired I usually sleep no later than 6 am. I made it all the way to 8am this morning. That feels good. I’m happy that you understood where I was coming from. I have more thoughts on this subject maybe next week I’ll share. Always a pleasure to have you read and comment.

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