WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN AFRICAN IN AMERICA?



Being black in America has it's benefits as well as it's down sides. So being the person I am I wrote an open letter to the creator of the famous T.V. show Roots.

Dear
Creators of Roots,
My race is black, nationality Liberian, and ethnicity the tribe of my parents. All blacks can not be labeled as African Americans because we’re not all the same.


I remember the very first time I watched the television show Roots. It was my second year in middle school and I was in a history class. We were talking about slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade. We took a week to finish the first season of Roots and the following week we discussed the content and analyzed some documents. While discussing one day my teacher asked what it’s like being a young African American woman and how does learning about slavery makes me feel. I was hesitant in answering because I didn’t know what it’s like being an African American woman.


I’m african; I was born  in Africa and I lived there for a few years before moving to the United States. I know nothing about slavery apart from what I have learned in school. I have no primary sources none of my family members experienced slavery at first hand to tell me stories so I was clueless. I smiled and said nothing, but I kept thinking about her question. I didn’t know that later on in my life that people would ask me the same question. I can relate to Roots on some levels; like starting off as a immigrant and going to a strange land but then again I chose to come to this land whereas they didn’t have a choice. I would relate to Roots more if it was not a story about slavery and freedom. In Roots America is shown as this strange land that is ruled by the white man, but I view it as the land of opportunity, a land of new beginnings and a land of freedom. America has given me more opportunities than my home country.
Liberia is a country located on the coast of West Africa; it was founded by freed slaves from the United states. Liberia is the oldest nation in Africa to gain independence. Liberians have suffered from the civil war which started in 1980 and ended around 2003. Liberians are known to be strong people because throughout the destruction and chaos from the war we still rise.


I am Liberian and I do not consider myself to be African American. African immigrants are not rare and there are hundreds of thousands of Liberians, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, Somalis, Kenyans and more living in the United states and other places abroad. Majority of us do not identify as African American but rather as Liberian-Americans, Nigerian-Americans, Ethiopian-Americans, etc. When people refer to me as African American I always correct them. My race is black, my nationality is Liberian, the tribe and county in Liberia my parents are from is my ethnicity. For African Americans, black is their race, American is their nationality and African American is their ethnicity.


Being referred to as an African American is offensive, because it doesn’t only discredit my nationality but it also disrespects the culture being mentioned. Roots contributes to that stereotype that because I’m black in America that I’m African American. African Immigrants as well as their children share a different culture from most African Americans; I feel like that’s something Roots should have promoted. I choose to be recognize my cultural identity before anything else. Overall Root promotes African Americans in America and not Africans. Roots promotes the stereotype that all blacks in America are African Americans.


Sincerely,

Jael Perkins

Come for me in the comments section and I promise I will drag you lol.

10 comments

  1. Very thought provoking. I was born in Ghana of Jamaican and Barbadian descent.

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    1. I'm glad! and you're from Ghana!!! I love Ghanaians, I live there a few years.

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  2. Identity is such a personal issue and has so many factors. I have friends who are black, born in America, and don't identify as "African American." I'm Jewish and Italian and visited both Israel and Italy. I so wanted to feel a sense of "these are my people" but I didn't. I don't always feel it in America because...well...I can't relate to all Americans. But the older I get, the more I travel, and the more different people I interact with, I feel most bonded to people who have more similar values and that often has nothing to do with their race, religion, ethnicity...

    But I appreciate hearing your perspective and hope you will take it with a "grain of salt" that some people are just ignorant to more worldly issues and you can enlighten them by sharing your personal perspective.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I agree identity is a personal issue and exactly what you said I find that I'm relating to people more based on their moral, values and religion. Sometimes it's not about color it's just about who you are as a person.

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  3. Very beautiful post,me too I'm African American Liberian woman!

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  4. Just like the movie said, your name is your spirit. Go African lady!

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  5. I am from Nigeria, so I understand you perfectly. Thanks for sharing.

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