Thursday, March 18, 2010

Black or African American? by Tremaine Smith

The following article was shared by an SSS student, Tremaine Smith, and was written for her Intercultural Communication class.

Adekanbi said she has been rejected by Black Americans and has not felt connected with that community, although she has become an American citizen. She said she has had negative experiences with Black Americans, such as being called names because she is from Africa. “The African students' community, regardless of being from West Africa or East Africa, even though we are very different, we are like brothers and sisters of one people," Adekanbi said. "But I don't think that passes over into the African-American community (The Brown and White)." Judging by this story, I do feel the same way. Back in the day all black people were united as one but for some reason something caused Black Americans to judge one another to make them feel superior to Africans, making black people and also Africans think that we are two different races instead of one race.

So, I made a study that asked people hard questions about their race and what they think of the so called other race. When I started this project I admit I had a bias, because I was frustrated that an African American student had disrespected me. I was beginning to think that all Africans Americans were rude and disrespectful. But when I observed Black and African Americans socializing with each other, this is not the case. What I found through my study really surprised me. To me what it is really about was that people are going to treat you a certain way and the way you respond to it is the key. Judging another race by one person shows that Black Americans and Africans Americans have not evolved. Also, with my studies it made me think why so many people make comments such as when you see a Black person talking to another race or dating another race they are considered “setting us back”. The really big problem in my generation is the N-word, why is it popular? All these are things I question but the main one would be, which do you consider yourself, Black American or African American?

I observed two different groups on campus. One would be the African Americans and the other would be Black Americans. I wanted to know if there were differences in Black American verses African American. I also wanted to know if there really is a stigma of race wars against Blacks and Africans Americans on campus. My definition of Black American would be if your grandparents were born and raised in America you are considered as a Black American. When it comes to African American, I describe as, if your grandparent or even your immediate family came from Africa, you are African American. My first part of the study was conducted in Dr. Michski’s public speaking class where I witnessed that more Black Americans appear to be more comfortable with being with other races where some Africans are more comfortable with only Africans.

Also, Black Americans seem to be more Americanized in the way they speak and act with different races. An example of this would be that most Black American males want to be a pimp or some type of rap star other than being themselves. When I observed African American males on campus they are more worried about becoming more accomplished in their studies like going to graduate school, and taking care of their family. Also, when it comes to flashy clothes for African American males they prefer to not dress in the latest trend but with Black males they are more worried about the new Jordan tennis shoes that are coming out and how they dress. I think African Americans and Black Americans have different personalities. I have observed Black and African Americans act a number of ways from uptight, prideful, shy, quiet, funny, and loud. So, one cannot use personality to judge between them the two.

Black American also women greet each other differently than African American women do. For example, Black American girls only hang around females like them and when they are in a group they are loud, judgmental of other races and in some groups you hear nothing but curse words. The same is true of African American males, they never cuss or judge other races but Black males always seem to say the N-word at the end of every phrase and every greeting. With education Black Americans thinks that education will lead to money and out of the poverty but with African Americans education leads to being more accomplished in life. The biggest thing that surprises me was that when I asked a so called African American does she consider herself as African or Black, she told me she considered herself as simply an American. But if you ask a Black person how they consider themselves, they always say Black American because it seems that they consider race first before being an American. Black Americans think that when someone states they are African American they saying that they are not from America. I think that Black Americans think more about race than African Americans do. I have observed a lot of self-hate among the Black Americans where they change their appearance such as skin color and hair type to fit in with a certain group. But African Americans seem to know who they are and they do not want to change who they are to fit in with a particular crowd. When I observed Black and African Americans, I have noticed that African Americans appear more united where as Black Americans are not. The exception would be that Black Americans appear to unite within their own social class.

In conclusion, the saying is really true you can’t really judge a book by its cover. As I was doing this study I wanted to think that people will have the same opinion as me about things but that was not the case. I think that nothing should separate Black and African Americans from each other because we are all Americans. We as Americans should only think of ourselves as human beings and not think about race so much. There is enough racism in the world to add in reverse racism makes it all so complicated.

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