Coming from a discussion that the brother _Praxis_(I’m sure the ladies of Asylum remember Dingane1) wrote on Twitter, I wanted him to extend Asylum his thoughts in long form. I am always enlightened by the brothers insights and knowledge of politics, and I know Asylum is due some discussions regarding the issue. The brother is a dear favorite of Asylum, so as always, please extend him your courtesies.
I want to start off by thanking Owl for allowing me some space on his site for this discussion to take place and giving my thoughts a signal boost. I’ve found that kinda love hard to come by and I do appreciate the opportunity.
In this essay I seek to do 2 things, explain my reasoning that the “Black (non-immigrant stock) Americans” are a new ethnicity and that our engagement of ancient ethnicities and kingdoms with black skin constitutes a sort of plagiarism that is often referred to as cultural appropriation.
The “Black American” in my mind is without a doubt is a new ethnicity. Given the intermixing of preceding African ethnic groups due the practice of tribal as well as familial separation in the institution of American slavery, the geographical separation of those African ethnic groups from Africa due to the Atlantic Slave Trade, and the shared history that we have as a result of the above, in my eyes is evidence enough. (I could split hairs about the one drop rule which allows for a very wide interpretation of what is “black” and frankly in my humble opinion that’s a topic worth discussing but the functional reality is whether blue black or high yellow they are accepted as “black”.) But let us take it a bit further if my memory serves me correctly and I’m sure I will be swiftly corrected if it doesn’t, but I believe John Henrik Clarke has said and im paraphrasing here “…To speak of a people without talking about the land in which they inhabit is to call them out of their name”. When I think about that statement in context with who are as “Black Americans” the land that makes us distinct is America. Now before you stop reading, consider that not only do you speak English, you also think in English, most of our underlying assumptions about just about everything are characterized by our existence here. That is not to discount our African ancestry and the pieces that we have been able to maintain but it only functions as part of the equation. In a political sense when we look at our attempts to blend into American society versus endeavors like repatriation or at least connecting ourselves diplomatically to a sympathetic African nations much like the Rastafarian people have with Ethiopia further reinforces the connection to this land.
I really don’t see this as a contentious issue. However, how we as this new ethnicity go about defining culture around us is; which brings me to my next point concerning how we currently address defining that culture. As I have said in opening, it is my assertion that our engagement of ancient ethnicities and kingdoms with black skin constitutes cultural appropriation.
Let me make a comparison to further illustrate that point. West Asia, what is now known as Europe, upon booting the moors and other Muslim groups from power and beat them back to North Africa and the faux-discovery of what was to become known as north and South America was a time of much upheaval in their world. They were no longer the west in a geographical sense but the center. These events constituted a reorganization of their world and how they thought about themselves, it became a time of redefinition. It was at this time where west Asia became Europe after manufacturing kinship at least on the intellectual level with the Greeks and the Romans, who ironically really would have absolutely nothing to do with them had they still been around to have a say in the matter.