In response to the “Impressions” column last week “Put ‘African-American’ in the ash heap,” I beg to differ.
Nationality and race are two concepts used very often by the media. Though the words have totally different meanings, their use has created doubts in the minds of readers. Whereas nationality pertains to the country you were born in, or are in at present, race is the ethnic group you belong to.
The piece of land you were born in decides your nationality, so if your parents moved to another country just before your birth, you may have a new country for your nationality. The word “race” is used mostly in a negative tone these days to refer to discrimination going on in various parts of the world on the basis of skin color and facial features.It is true that African-Americans, blacks, Negroes, et all have been called by many names over the past 250 years of American history — everything except a “child of God.” But, more to the point of how the term “African-American” entered the lexicon of American dialogue, consider the ethnic groups that comprise our American society.
The terms Mexican-American, Italian-American, Chinese-American (and yes, African-American) have a common thread in that they represent people who are associated with a particular land mass, the ancestral homeland from which they emigrated to America.
Unless one is Native American (American Indian), we are all “hyphenated” because we (or our ancestors) emigrated to America from someplace else. To deny this is to deny one’s ancestral roots. This was another attempt by those in power to further belittle and suppress the sense of homeland for a people brought to America in chains and against their will.
The vast majority of the younger generation (black and white) do not remember (or choose to forget) the sacrifices and struggles for equality in America by those considered non-American or sub-human. Thanks to public broadcasting, a good history lesson can be had by all this month on WJCT TV.
Race should not matter, but it does and probably always will. If the truth be told, the only race that matters is the “human race.” Red, yellow, white, black or brown — and every variation in between — we are all God’s children and equal in His sight.
Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr., Jessie Jackson, Andrew Young and countless others who helped gain recognition for us as a people, a designation that for too long was denied.
David D. Walls Jr.
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