Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Black American not African American

In my June 7, 2009 Sunday paper there was an article about interracial couples. I was excited to see this article because I myself am in an interracial marriage. But I was disappointed by the way that the author described the people in the article. I wrote a letter to the editor, expressing my views but the paper chose not to publish it. I figured that they had received so many responses that they opted for one more articulate than mine. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

I went to the website for the newspaper and found that several other people had the same opinion that I had but the newspaper chose not to publish their thoughts either. On one hand, I can understand the newspaper choosing not to publish my letter in the print version of the newspaper since the same view had already been expressed online. But, on the other hand, most of the people in my area read the print version of the paper and will never see those comments. The newspaper's decision not to publish my letter was cowardly if it was done to prevent conflict.

So for my own satisfaction, my letter is attached below:

While Ngoc Huynh's article “Three generations, three stories” was well-intentioned, it perpetuates a inaccurate label that has become the norm in this county: All black people are African American. When he describes the two Caucasians, he identifies that they are of Dutch and French descent and Italian, Irish, Polish and Canadian Mohawk descent but the black people are just listed as African American.
An African American is a person who emigrated from Africa and moved to America. The Lost Boys of Sudan are African Americans. There are many African Americans who live in this country who are not black. When you fill out a job application the choices aren't Polish, Irish, Italian, etc. They are Caucasian and African American Why not Caucasian and black? The color of a person's skin might provide some insight into where a person is from but it doesn't define their entire make up. Unless a person is Native American, their ancestors emigrated to this country which defines most Americans.
I don't understand the necessity to marginalize an entire group of people as less American simply because of the color of their skin. When I go to other countries no one ever asks me if I'm from Africa. I have been mistaken for German and Spanish, among other nationalities, while traveling outside of the US and it is a refreshing change. In this country, I would be considered less American than an immigrant from Egypt because my skin is darker than theirs. My ancestors were of German, African and American Indian descent from what I have uncovered from my family tree so far and I honor all of them. My skin is brown so in this country I am just African American. This label denies my rich cultural history and reduces me to less American than my Caucasian counterparts.

The original article can be found at www.syracuse.com/cny


  1. Thank you for visiting Sasha, I enjoy a good rant. Cool blog


  2. I am happy to report that in today's newspaper (6/21/09) my letter to the editor was published with a response from the editor to my letter. I appreciate them taking the time to respond and publish my letter even if I don't agree with many of the explanations that they provided (this will be covered in an additional rant later this week).