Are We Losing Our Identity?

By Roy Douglas Malonson

“We didn’t want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans.  In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves, without even realizing it.  Because you can’t hate the roots of a tree and not hate the tree.  You can’t hate your origin and not end up hating yourself. You can’t hate Africa and not hate yourself.”– Malcolm X

In my lifetime and even before, White folks have always been called, “White”; Indians have always been called, “Indians”; individuals of Chinese descent have always been labeled “Chinese”; the same for Hispanics/Mexicans and the other nationalities which are represented across this nation.

However, Black people have been called some of any and every thing since our entrance into these United States.  Notwithstanding the fact that we were once considered as 3/5tha person; even so, we have been called, “Boy”“Colored”, “Negro”, “Black”and “African-American”.   By the way, those are the “official” terms that were listed to represent us.  But, of course more obscene words have been used to define African-Americans.

I often make reference to the many identifying factors of race indicated on various generations of Blacks who have been birthed into this country, such as myself.

When my father was born, the race listed on his birth certificate was Negro.  My birth certificate has Colored on it, my daughter’s birth certificate has Black and my granddaughter is an African-American according to her birth facts.  Nowadays, with the mixing of various races, some African-Americans are even being identified as, “Other”.  Now ain’t that a real Mother For Ya!?!?!

Through all of the changes that Black people have been through since this country’s inception it is enough to have any person of our race struggling with an identity crisis.  But, it is one thing for other people to cause confusion within the Black race and to have Black folks confused about their identity.  But, many modern-day African-Americans are intentionally losing their own identity by choice.

We Must Understand there is a dire need for Africans living in America to not only embrace our culture, but, to learn who we are as a people and learn our history.  Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without knowledge of their history is like a tree without roots.”  Maya Angelou second his notion when she stated,“The more you know of your history, the more liberated you are.”

For this reason, it is imperative that Black folks learn Black history year round, because it is the best way to understand why we do what we do and why we look the way we look.  As it is, the real truth about the African-American culture in this country has been white-washed to depict a weak and inferior race of people.

But, if Black folks would resort to a path to find out where we come from, we would find that Black people are amongst the original race of people to not only inhabit America, but the world itself. Africans living in American stem from a strong and royal heritage, yet many refuse to study and research their heritage.

I have heard many Black people like, Herman Cain who choose to omit his African heritage.  Cain identifies himself as a “Black-American”opposed to “African-American”. I have heard people say, “I’m not from Africa, I was born in America; so, I’m not an African-American.”  The irony of such mindsets is that while Black people can choose to deny their African heritage, when those who do not look like us see us, they view us all the same.

William L. Jones noted in his book entitled, “The Importance of Black Identity to the Black Adolescent,” several points relative to this subject.  He notated, “The Black American, however, was brought to this country originally as a slave.  His families had been torn asunder and his origins had been deliberately obliterated.”

In fact, even before his arrival here, a fiendish White plot was fomented to blot out any vestige of culture and tradition for the African, and he was continually drilled in the belief that he was of a subhuman species and consequently had not actual heritage worth preserving.  All of the European nations were in on this insidious plot with the British Empire leading the way!”

It is for all of the aforementioned reasons that African-American News & Issues exist.  As the Publisher, I can state that this publication, was designed to not only address current and historical realities affecting our communities; but, also to give our people a sense of pride and to learn who we are.

So, while I pose the question, “Are We Losing Our Identity,” it is my sincere hope and desire that we are not.  Because at the rate that we are evolving and with so many of us disregarding and having a lack of concern about “Our Story”, if we are not careful we will lose our identity.