Saturday, August 28, 2004

African American?

A fascinating story on who counts as "African-American."
For a moment, the Ethiopian-born activist seemed to melt into the crowd, blending into the sea of black professors, health experts and community leaders considering how to educate blacks about the dangers of prostate cancer. But when he piped up to suggest focusing some attention on African immigrants, the dividing lines were promptly and pointedly drawn.

The focus of the campaign, the activist, Abdulaziz Kamus, was told, would be strictly on African-Americans.

"I said, 'But I am African and I am an American citizen; am I not African-American?'" said Mr. Kamus, who is an advocate for African immigrants here, recalling his sense of bewilderment. "They said 'No, no, no, not you.'"

"The census is claiming me as an African-American," said Mr. Kamus, 47, who has lived in this country for 20 years. "If I walk down the streets, white people see me as an African-American. Yet African-Americans are saying, 'You are not one of us.' So I ask myself, in this country, how do I define myself?"

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This IS a big deal, at least to African-Americans (or slave descendents, as they would like the limit the former term to) Immigrants from Africa have a completely different world view than slave descendents. They have the temerity to say things like they don't see much evidence of discrimination in America. They do well in school and much better in key statistics than slave descendents.

It's the immigrant ethic versus the victimization excuse. These African immigrants have seen and heard things THEMSELVES and have made the decision to move on with their lives. This is completely at odds with the current civil rights movement which has to educate current African-Americans that the injustices of past generations are the root cause of all their problems.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BUCK!

My wife taught fourth grade in the Boston public schools. Many of her students were Haitian immigrants. When asked to fill in the "race" bubble on standardized tests, they uniformly would not fill in the "African-American" bubble, even though this was the only listed racial category that arguably fit. "I'm not African-American," one child explained. "I'm Haitian!" And he (and many of the other students) chose to fil in the bubble marked "other."

4:20 PM  
Blogger rathwel said...

It never fails, racism rears it ugly head again. The use of labels which isolate and amplify the anger and pain felt by any who are on the recieving end. The endless quest to seperate "us" from "them". It appears all over, even within the communities of those who share the same ancestry. The world fails once again to cast off these labels and accept people for who they are not how they appear.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Dick Tatlow said...

How about white South Africans who migrate and become US citizens?

1:15 PM  
Blogger nshumate said...

"How about white South Africans who migrate and become US citizens?"

Hey, if I can't be a "Native American," they can't be "African Americans." (Which is fine by me, but could I at least have a bubble that says "European American" instead of misidentifying my skin color?)

4:12 PM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Just curious: Is 'nshumate' an old friend of mine from Arkansas, or someone with a similar name?

4:32 PM  
Blogger Marty said...

I guess I'm really confused now. I was adopted at 3 by an African American family, but recently found out that my natural father is from Nigeria (and my mother and Irish Catholic girl from Iowa by way of Connnecticut.)

All these years I've been though of as African American, but NOW what do I do. I guess I'll just have to check other. ;)

By the way- I just added you to my blogroll which is full of adoptive parents, adoptees, people working on an adoption.

Also- I'm surprised you don't have instapundit or powerline on your blog list...

4:37 PM  
Blogger nshumate said...

Never been to Arkansas, so I'm not an old friend from there...

Nathan Shumate (currently of Utah)

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoot- I was going to trackback to your post, but you aren't using trackbacks. anyway I reference your post here:

http://bigjourney.blogspot.com/2004/09/what-am-i.html

Thanks for the tip!

6:22 PM  
Blogger jon said...

I was looking at your posts about cancer colon symptom and found a good article about the same cancer colon symptom info too...

God luck with it : )

10:29 AM  
Blogger thermoplastic resources said...

Looking for uterine cancer information I came across this post. I totally agree with you and would feel the same way!

jon

9:31 AM  

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