A Thought on Racial Nomenclature

The descriptor “African-American” is mainly used because the vast majority of black Americans cannot trace their roots to any specific place in Africa. All most know is that they are the descendants of people from the western part of that immense continent.

This makes me wonder why Barack Obama has always been referred to as an African-American when we know his roots are in Kenya. Why isn’t he described as a Kenyan-American?

Italians and Irish who settled in America became Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans. Only if they had been kidnapped and brought to the United States as slaves (before the advent of the nation state in Europe) would there be any reason to label them European-Americans.

The term African-American represents something more than simple geography. As a phrase it embodies the history of a people forcibly transplanted to another continent, sharing in everything from slavery to the jazz age to emancipation. When Rosa Parks refused to give up that bus seat in 1955 Obama’s father was living in Kenya under British rule, recently married in a tribal ceremony. Barack Obama Sr. did not inherit African-America’s cultural legacy based on the fact that his skin tone resembled that of Malcolm X. Nor does his son. For the same reason, it would be disingenuous for white South African-turned-American citizen Charlize Theron to identify as an African-American.

The use of “African-American” in describing Barack Obama when Kenyan-American is both available and more accurate reflects, first of all, Western ethnocentricity. Ignoramuses see Africa as a homogeneous, poverty-stricken landmass with the Senufo people of West Africa no different to the Baganda of the East, when the truth is it’s the most ethnically diverse region on the planet.

But how can anyone complain about such ignorance when the left has decided that asking a person where they’re from is a microaggression? Instead of applauding people’s interest in and curiosity about the world they’ve decided to denounce such questions as “racist” in a celebration of superficial idiocy.

America’s political system is not racist but it is obvious that the Democratic Party overplayed the idea of “Barack Obama as African-American” in order to tap into a vast reservoir of white guilt and black racial affinity at election time.

That is bad enough. What’s worse is that people fell for it.

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