August 2, 2014

The identity crisis among the black community

By Jahnasia Booker
Special to the Chronicle

Who are we, and why should we care about what we are called? Although we are of the same color, people often divide themselves within the black race.

The controversial issues surrounding terms such as “black”, “African American”, “Afro-American,” etc., have been discussed for years.

“I am not ‘black.’ ‘Black’ is a color,” said Eloquence Rowell. “Social constructs affiliate [the black community] with something negative.”

But why is it that no one wants to affiliate themselves with being black? After all, there are many people who identify more so with the term “black” than with the term “African- American.” Why, as a people, do we continue to divide ourselves?

The black community still cannot come to a consensus as to how they would like to be identified. Even when the name changed from “black” to “African American”, the community was still not satisfied.

According to one modern theory, the entire human species originated from Africa, so doesn’t that make us all African Americans?

Because of the psychological damage inflicted upon our ancestors, the current generations are suffering. Yes, slavery happened many decades ago, but it still affects the way blacks view themselves.

“Black people honestly take everything to heart,” said Yejide Collman. “If we keep talking about our differences from everyone else, we ostracize ourselves more and more.”

There are foundations and magazines such as “My Black is Beautiful” and Ebony and Essence magazines  that not only use the term, but celebrate the different hues of black women. So is the term still deemed negative?

“Though I am not black, I do not agree with the term ‘black’ to be used to identify someone or to describe the color of someone’s skin,” said Natalia Alvarez-Plaud. “I am Costa Rican, and in Costa Rica there are people with dark skin, but we do not call them black Costa Ricans. [Also] after a while, that is no longer your culture. I can say that I am Puerto-Rican American because my family migrated here. But after a while, if you are born and raised in America with no relation to your ancestral culture, you are just American.”

The solution to this communal identity crisis is evident to some and obscure to others. How does the black community congregate to prevent future generations from facing the same identity crisis as the present and past generations?

“There is only one race—the human race,”said Elogance Rowell.

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