I’m black, but not “African American”

Danya Granado
Aurora, CO

If you must place me in a racial category, then call me black. And no, I’m not offended when you say it.

My family is from Trinidad and Tobago.
I was born in England.
I have a Hispanic last name.
I get a lot of questions.

Culturally, I feel as though I barely have a link to “African Americans” or American-born blacks. We may have the same shade of melanin under our skin, but we are so different.

I get annoyed when applications offer “African American” as the only option under ethnicity or race. Once I’ve seen “Caribbean” placed in the same category as “Latino/Latina”. That doesn’t really fit me, either. And though my heritage looks like a tossed salad, I’ll never mark “other”.

But see, the term “African American” comes with an interesting set of expectations, cultural connotations and stereotypes that people place on me. Those can be good or bad.

No, I don’t like basketball. Never really played it.
No, I can’t rap. Wish I could.
No, I can’t really sing too well.
No, we don’t dance and shout and sing Gospel music at my church. In fact, I was raised Catholic (as many people of Caribbean descent are).
No, I’m not “sassy” and I don’t go around snapping my fingers, calling people “sistah”, and making up elaborate handshakes.

So I understand that it’s confusing for some people to comprehend this, but I’m not
African American. And don’t assume that I am because my skin is brown.


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