“But you’re not ‘really’ black, right?”

163391_357043487692251_48711793_nDanielle Petterson,
Tampa, FL.

I have light brown skin and I consider myself to be mixed. Most people have a simple-minded belief that “mixed” means that one parent is black while the other is white. To me, it runs so much deeper than that. I have 4 grandparents from 4 different countries: Puerto Rico, Curaçao, Guyana, and the US. Therefore, my background is a mix of Puerto Rican, Dutch Caribbean, and Native North and South American Indian: THAT’S what I mean by mixed. However, I don’t speak Spanish, Dutch, Papiamento, or any other languages my ancestors may have spoken, I was born and raised in Florida, I check “African-American” on applications and surveys, and since race and ethnicity are two separate things, yes, I really am black. I am not obligated to answer the question “What are you, really?” with a full explanation of my family background and my many ethnicities. My mother, with skin lighter than me, considers herself to be black and my father, who is darker, considers himself to be black, thus I am black. Yes, really.

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  • barry irving

    you have it right on your family identification…but you used both Black and African American. most of us do, but African American is or Caribbean American is more accurate. You named African descended people. West Africa is the most common root of all those people. Black is a Racial term. We need to not use it as our primary identifier because it is the same as white…a color caste term. in America, our official designation is African American or Hispanic not of African origin.

 

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