Does Race Still Matter for Blacks?

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Maybe race doesn’t matter anymore. Maybe we truly do live in a post racial America. Maybe the things that would lead one to cry racism are really just human failings not bound to skin color. Maybe it is inaccurate for blacks to call themselves “African-American”. I mean how many black folks do you guys know that actually acknowledge their African ancestry? How many actually know or for that matter care about Africa at all? We are several generations removed from the “motherland” and have no discernible connection to the continent or any of the thousands of cultures prevalent there. I mean really let’s think about this. African-Americans have no unique language and no consistent cultural traditions. Maybe we should just be Americans. Maybe we should completely forget about our ancestry and focus on the right here and right now. Does knowing you are descended from the Hausa, Akan, or Wolof really going to change your life? I know numerous blacks that actively embrace other parts of their heritage such as Native American but deny they are African at all. Most African-Americans have only between 1 and 2 percent Native American ancestry. However, there is a large percentage of blacks who wrongly believe that because they have a family member with long straight hair and high cheekbones they have significant native blood. The African continent houses the greatest genetic diversity of any place on Earth. There are folks with straight hair, curly hair, light skin, and dark skin, and everything in between. Despite this, many blacks would rather hold on to a myth than to embrace the fact they are(from a genetic standpoint) overwhelmingly African. The average breakdown go something like this: 79-80% Sub-Saharan Africa, 19% European, and 1-2% Native American. Despite these numbers, we still straighten our hair(as not to be “nappy”), accept westernized versions of indigenous African faiths, and in some cases bleach our skin to become lighter. We no longer continue the oral traditions that served to teach morality and cultural history. So why should we even bother to call ourselves African? I used to think that embracing your heritage would create some renewed sense of purpose and meaning. That purpose and meaning would then hopefully inspire others to achieve the greatness that their ancestors once did. However, I have come to think that this is an impossible task. Maybe blacks in America are not meant to have a unique culture. Perhaps our collective identity is forever bound to the identity of our current country of origin. Perhaps if we just ignore our genetic makeup and embrace the concept of being just American things will begin to work in our favor. I’ve devoted the last 20 years of my life to establishing that cultural connection with my African heritage. I’m here to tell you it has been a very lonely road. A journey that has seen far more criticism(often from other blacks) than understanding. At what point do you realize or accept that you are fighting a losing battle? Is it a battle worth still fighting? I don’t have the answers and am not sure I ever will. Maybe if I just cut my dreadlocks(certain people would be very happy about this) and forgot about “Black History” this road would be easier to travel. Maybe if I just concentrated on traditional U.S. History I’d be further along in my career. Maybe race simply doesn’t matter anymore. Maybe….

Dathistoryguy

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2 thoughts on “Does Race Still Matter for Blacks?

  1. History guy, I don’t think I could ever let it go. To do so would make me feel like I really am just meant to be a slave. We seem to be the only people criticized for embracing our heritage and you’re right. We even make fun of each other for embracing what others take pride in. This is a disgusting thing to me.

    • Well said Rick. I honestly don’t get it. We seem to not care at all about our heritage. We eagerly embrace almost all other cultures and have an apathetic attitude towards our own. I just don’t get it.

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