This past Tuesday actress and comedienne, Whoopi Goldberg, proclaimed on her show, ABC’s The View, ” I’m an American not an African-American”.
“You know what uh uh! This is my country,” Goldberg said. “My mother, my grandmother, my great-grand folks, we busted ass to be here. I’m sorry. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m not a chick American, I’m an American!”
Her argument was that her people have been here since the 1700s and should just be called American not African-American and her co-host actress, Raven Symone, agreed. This proclamation is problematic for two reasons. First of all it resurrects the debate of whether Black people should be considered just American or African-American. An unsettled debate that is barren and brings no true value to the Black community. The debate divides Black people and at a time where racial tension is so high in America what good can her declaration do? Who does it help and how does it hurt? These are the questions one with great influence like celebrities must consider when speaking on such topics.
Secondly, you can’t have a tree with no roots. Your branches might be American but your roots are African, hence the term African-American. Yes, Black people have great shares in this country and have helped build this nation to what it is today. But how does that fact make you not African-American? One can argue that by saying you are not African-American slights your very heritage. How can you totally disengage yourself from something that makes up so much of who you are like your hair, your skin, your look, your experience, your culture? Long before America, there was Africa.
The reasoning Whoppi Goldberg used is that her people have been in America too long to be anything but American. But being called African-American doesn’t make you less American than any other American group, it just speak to your ethnic lineage. African- Americans are no less American than White Americans who largest ancestries are German American, Irish American and English American. In fact one can argue that the term African-American makes Black people more American. First African slaves arrived in Jamestown in 1619, 50 years before German immigrants. German Americans are the largest ethnic group of White Americans according to the US Census Bureau and comprises of 50 million Americans. So time wise, African-American have been in America longer than many other immigrant groups. Regardless, the words African, German, Irish, Asian or Latino before American doesn’t take away from being American but instead reinforces it. Other than the indigenous people of America, the Native Americans, none of us are completely American. We all have an ancestry, a heritage, a story that goes beyond America and that is what makes us who we are.
Whoopi Goldberg born Caryn Elaine Johnson you are African-American. Your roots are Africa and has given your tree life and strength. You can call yourself just American but the roots are quit evident and cannot be denied.
“A tree stands strong not by its fruits or branches, but by the depth of its roots.” – Anthony Liccone
Happy New Year folks. 2016 will be our best year ever & remember
“You can’t praise the branches and then deny the roots”- Mobetter
Knowledge is power and power is possibility!!!