In last week’s post titled "Your 'Black' Ain't like My "Black'," we shared how people of different cultural backgrounds had differing definitions of the term “Black.” Surprisingly, they had differing definitions of the term “African” too. Some people reserved the term "African" specifically for people whose families came to the Americas voluntarily and therefore know the specific African countries or cultures their families come from. On the other hand, some people whose families were forced here explained that they very purposefully use the term "African" to describe themselves as a way of showing that their hearts will always be with the continent they were forced away from.
We thought for sure that everyone would agree on this term -especially since a number of people during our test run in May said it was always important to describe oneself as "black" to show solidarity when it comes to social justice issues. It turns out, we found these two conflicting definitions:
Many people whose families had been in the US since slavery tended to define “black” as a unifying term that encompasses anyone of African descent, no matter how distant or unknown the lineage.
Conversely, a number of people whose families immigrated voluntarily from African countries defined “black” as a specific segment of people: only those whose families were brought to the US via slavery.