I’M African American. Am I African-American?

imagejpeg_2_38Dahomey Abanishe,
Secrest, FL.

As a child in Kansas, I always assumed I was African-American and not because of what I was culturally but because of how I looked. I am Truly a Nigerian American culturally. My father is Nigerian and I was raised eating pepper stew and listening to Fela. No one fried chicken and made sweet potato pie. My mom is biracial but was raised as white until put in an orphanage where she was told that she was black. All of my mom’s siblings are either white or hispanic. (This truly a whole nother race card project because as first-cousins we have appropriated three different distinct cultures). She appropriated the African-American identity only after she was separated from her family and told that the state was going to put her with her “real” family..

I was expected to be African-American by my teachers and neighbors because I was black. I learned the African-American experience from my friends.I craved the African American experience because that was what was expected from me so I looked forward to eating my friends mom’s fired fish with spaghetti and longed for the opportunity to attend African-American Church services. My friends told me what radio station I should listen to for Hip Hop music.

I did not fully became African-American by the time I was a teenager and did not disentangle the African-American from the African until college. Then I worked as a part time census worker. It was truly surprisingly to learn the many ways according to the US Census one could be a Latino….black-latino, white-latino, Mexican-American, Cuban-American, Spanish-speaking, Non-Spanish speaking…etc. However, when you fill out your Census report there is only ONE way to be BLACK. Not Nigerian-American, Jamacian-American, Yourba-Speaking not even a white-African. However, In college I started to really see that my family story was not was similar to the African American experience but was truly an immigrant story. In someways, more similar to a kid with parents from Vietnam than all of the African-American kids I hung out with. As an adult, I realized I had no choice but to adopt the African-American story.

I moved to the East Coast as an adult. There I connected with many cousins and friends who were the 1st and 2nd generation in America, but they never misappropriated the title, food, or cultural values of African-American. For them to be Nigerian American…was just that. However, they were able to do this because they had a community large enough to provide African markets, schools, churches and fashion stores. Their cultural experience could stay completely tied to their country of origin because they could surround themselves in that culture everyday. I don’t quite fit into that Nigerian-American group which was initially confusing because that is what I am on the most fundamental level.

I now realize that my appropriated culture is built into my core just as Nigerian-American is built into my cousins core. The difference is that the community of peers available for me to scaffold my cultural identity on in KS was my African-American peers. Therefore, I am African-American and I am also African and American because the culture I appropriated is my culture now. To bring things full circle. I now realize, I am like my mom. My culture and race is as much more of what others say it should be than what it truly is.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

23 Responses to "I’M African American. Am I African-American?"
  1. escabrosa1 . says:

    Thanks for posting this, I thought your story was very interesting. I think you should follow your heart in situations like this, but I know it’s hard because everyone want to be a part of something. It sounds like you have a good soul and a good mind and have made the best of it. Best wishes.

  2. tacco says:

    Terms like ‘media’ and ‘government’ are very broad LABELS; a deflection tactic.

    Let’s play a game called, “What Do They Look Like – How Do They Think” abbreviated as “WDTLL-HDTT”

    First up, the MEDIA. If you line up all their high-level executives and shot-callers, WDTLL-HDTT? What about the true owners of MEDIA companies, shareholders, WDTLL-HDTT?

    Next, the GOVERNMENT. If you line up all the highest officials in every government agency including the military (by the way Obama is as much white as he is black) WDTLL-HDTT? What about the high-level executives of the corporations involved, WDTLL-HDTT? What about the major shareholders of the those corporations, WDTLL-HDTT?

    After lining up all these people, 99.9%… WDTLL-HDTT?

    Nice try with your deflection tactics, by using LABELS, which you claim to hate.

    • barry irving says:

      …patriotic vigilante…that say’s it all…why not just write your manifesto ( you are approaching it here ) so we can properly classify you with the delusional mental types who need to be watched!

      • tacco says:

        barry… are you referring to me as the one sounding delusional?

        • barry irving says:

          …um, that’s about the size of it!

          • tacco says:

            How is what I said delusional? Looking back at what I wrote I can see how I could of worded it differently to better convey my point.

            BTW Who is “we”? Who needs to watch me? and why? I’m interested in hearing some reasonable support for your diagnosis.

          • barry irving says:

            …You put down a Rant – Ranters are delusional …you talk about “we” when really it’s “YOU”…where’s your support that confirms the WE?

          • tacco says:

            What are you talking about? Listen to yourself. “Ranters are delusional” You seem to have a habit of drawing quick conclusions, from little , to no information. You know… you (barry) and patrioticvigilante seem to adopt the same techniques as those you claim are bad.

            YOU said “… so ‘we’ can properly classify you with the delusional mental types who need to be watched”.

            So again, who do you mean when you say “we”? Or do you not understand?

          • barry irving says:

            …we the stable minded, non ranting people that’s who. You need to be watched because you may be “MURDER’IN LITTLE JOEY” or his Dad…who might get a hold a=of a gun and then there goes innocent lives.

            …get your panties out of that twist, you got a Turbo Super Wedgie dude…Ouch!

          • tacco says:

            LOL you’re funny bro. You watch too much TV, probably obsessed with the type of media your buddy patrioticvigilante talks about.

            You resort to name calling… really? LOL Bro, I’m from Miami and grew up playing all type of sports since I could walk LOL you’re too easy dude; actually it’s been quite amusing. Thanks for laugh! Toddle-loo… gotta go wash my pink panties

          • barry irving says:

            …seriously, I’m not your Bro…good idea about the Panties though… got enough soap?

          • tacco says:

            (LOL I can’t resist. you’re too funny) Yeah bro… I mean dude… I mean sis… I mean yes B arry I got a whole box of OXY-clean and lavender-scented fabric softener and yes you can borrow some; By your response I see your panties are getting all bunched up.

            Anyways. Time for some good ole American, Thursday night football. Have a good evening bro! (oh no he didn’t!)

          • barry irving says:

            …i guess that when you run out of stupidity, you just get even more stupid…so embarrassing….for you!

          • tacco says:

            What a great Thursday night football game, Saturday Edition that ended on Sunday… They went into overtime!

            Ah now let’s see what Barry’s up to… more name calling? Do us a favor and ‘Google’ the reason why people name-call, you’ll find one reason is because they have no logical argument. Get help. I care about you.

          • barry irving says:

            …a little too much…stop acting like a stricken little girl with a wet panty spot. I’m not Gay!

          • tacco says:

            Wow, you’re sicker than I thought; belligerent. Perhaps like an alcoholic who doesn’t recognize he has a problem.

            Why are you such an angry person Barry? Are you able to recognize the stuff you right as not relating to anything, except that which is made up in your imagination?

            Due to the possibility that you might suffer from mental health issues, I am going refrain from continuing this dialog. I look forward to reading your reply, and will take your last insult with a grain of salt. Take care Barry.

          • barry irving says:

            …OK here it is…”DIE SOON GEEHUH?”

    • Fed Up with BS says:

      You’re not even shooting the target. The point is that media executives and government officials push labels to “pit an us vs. them mentality.” Media executives do this to influence the public; after all, that is why the media is there. Government officials do this to get elected. By mentioning corporations, you’re going off-topic. You’re not even attacking the argument that division between certain groups of people makes them easier to control.
      By the way, the proper name for “deflection tactics” is the red herring.

      • tacco says:

        Where do I begin? I personally know people in the media and people in the government (not to mention the students in college pursuing those careers) and believe me, they are not on a mission to “pit” anyone against anyone. Referring to terms like “government” and “media” as bad entities is just as irresponsible as those who refer to “blacks” as being this and “whites” as being that.

        Secondly, as I’m sure you’re well aware, corporations are very much tied to government and provide a whole lot money to get those government officials you’re talking about, elected. Right? So, how is that off target?

        Yes, divide and conquer (control) is a strategy. However, are you implying that the reason why we have this racial divide is because the government and media?

        And lastly, a**, buttocks, or gluteus maximus, does it really matter? Show me where it says I’m incorrect for using “deflection tactics” instead of “red herring”? You understood what I was saying, right?

        • Fed Up with BS says:

          To answer your second question, you are being off target because corporations and the government are two separate entities. Corporations are not officials elected to serve their constituents. To answer your third question, let me give you an example of the role of the government and the media in promoting racial divide. Back in 2012, Joe Biden told a large group of blacks, “They’re going to put y’all back in chains,” in Delaware. This was covered on C-SPAN. Biden implied that Republicans were out to enslave black people, which any reasonable person knows is nowhere in the Republican platform. Your acknowledgement that divide and conquer is a strategy proves my point.
          Nowhere did I say that you were wrong for using “deflection tactics.”

          • tacco says:

            I get what you’re saying regarding the separate and different roles of government and corporations in a ‘perfect world’. However in reality, they’re both just made up of people and the two intertwine. For example, in 2000 when PCRM sued the USDA (federal government). This is when members of government had vested interest in the meat and dairy industries, so they constructed the food pyramid and recommended daily amounts of meat and dairy in a manner to boost sales of meat and dairy.

            My thing is, racial division and division in general has always existed as far as recorded history reveals. To me, government is simply a platform that people can also use to further their agenda; which is no secret. Likewise, media is a powerful tool that people use for the same reason.

            I get what you’re saying though. People buy into what they see on TV, even though they might know it’s BS., just like reality shows. people know it’s BS, but they still believe it. I think ‘we’ as individuals are accountable as well. Thanks for elaborating.

  3. barry irving says:

    …Do you know the term Diaspora?…people who are separated from their original culture or geography by force or immigration?…that’s who we African Americans are. African American as a term is often confused. Nationally we are African Americans, but ethnically, ancestrally and genetically we are African people.

    …The only real genetic difference between African Americans and Hispanics of the Caribbian and So. America are the particular European or Spanish Colonial genetics that we possess. The most identifying characteristics are language and culture.

    …officially in the US we are classified as African American / Black or Hispanic and Hispanic not of African origin. What anybody else says should not be taken seriously. To identify as just American is to allign with Whites who have thrown away their connection to any European ethnicity and prefer to be White…a color.

    …that is color casting and it had Racist roots that are centuries old. Black as an ethnic term came about in the 60’s Civil Rights Movement as a counter to White. It is considered to be a Regional Vernacular, “Slang” term .

  4. Mr.Golstein says:

    Latino is not a race…it is an identity, based on culture centered around language. Latin is a city in Italy. Nigerian = African. If you are born in US, you are African-American…specifically Nigerian American…the true distinction is your skin, which gives genetic evidence…its like Lupita Nyong’o…she was born in Mexico…but is clearly Kenyan.

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