I recall a conversation I was engaged in with a few of my peers. I don’t remember what we were talking about specifically, but I can’t seem to shake off the end or how it made me feel. I gave an example of something I found to be a pattern in the black community and I explicitly said “black people” in my explanation. I watched one of the girls get uneasy. There was a pause, then she staggered to tell me that I meant to say African American. NO. Just no.
I can feel that some of you are starting to get offended, but stay with me for second. Both of my parents were born and raised in Haiti, but moved to the United States before I was born. I am Haitian American, preferably just Haitian. Some you of might say that a boat ride is the only standing in between our difference, and I wouldn’t disagree with you. My ancestors long ago could have easily been put on a different boat, but that’s not the issue here.
I have never and will never be hurt by someone calling me or assuming that I am African American. It’s not offensive. The problem arises when I try to proclaim my heritage and I get shot down, because it is mistaken as hatred toward the Black American community. It’s absurd. I am proud to be black. I am proud to be grouped with African Americans, Caribbean Americans, and blacks as a whole from all corners of the world. We all share similar trials, tribulations, and injustice; and through our struggles we also share support for one another and pride.
It’s similar to the “You’re pretty for a black/dark skin girl” paradox. It puts black women in a box. You’re pretty, but not enough to be with the other pretty women, so here is your own little demeaning category. Similarly, by generalizing all black people as African American, there’s a disregard for the countless places they could be from.
It was once socially acceptable to be called negro. Over the years, we’ve moved to the term African American because that is what people are comfortable with. I was not put on this earth to make people comfortable, and it is not my goal to be the average person that fits in and stays. I am working to have a platform where I can be a voice for the unheard.
My hair is nappy. My skin is bronze. I am proud to be Haitian. I am proud to be Black.