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Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I learned very early on that being Haitian wasn’t exactly the thing to be.  When my family moved to a new town, my older brother and I simply hid it. Nobody asked, so we didn’t tell. Then it all began to unravel. My third grader teacher assigned a family tree diagram which forced me to reveal our heritage  I recall coming home from school that day feeling dread as I told my older brother (by two years) that the jig was up. The tears came quickly, from both us, as we understood all too well what it would mean to reveal that we were Haitian. The teasing would be brutal, but tolerable. Feeling ostracized was what we feared the most.

But then we grew up, and like most people, the very thing we were teased about as children became the thing we cherished with the upmost pride. We embraced our heritage, and slowly the larger West-Indian community began to accept us. Gaining this acceptance, however, came at a price. While I had always heard family members speak with disdain about Black Americans, it wasn’t until I was a teenager when I learned that this us vs. them mentality spanned across West-Indian cultures. When I’d hear West-Indians attributing certain stereotypes to Black Americans,  I found myself nodding in agreement.  We were different, I insisted. We  were educated. Our children were better behaved. We were hard-working. Our food tasted better. African Americans gave us all a bad name, and while we would befriend them in public, in private, we’d deride them for being stereotypical.

I carried this belief with me to college. I was even proud when white people would praise me for being different from what they’d imagined. My French last name was also a crowd-pleaser. I ate it all up with a spoon. My false pride, however,  came to an abrupt halt towards the end of my freshman year when one of my white dorm-mates told me to, “Go back to Africa.” I was stunned. Surely, she couldn’t mean me? I had the perfectly straight hair. I dressed well. I made the Dean’s list. I spoke properly. How could she, in a moment of anger, reduce me to being a black face just like any other? I was different. Wasn’t I? It was a hard lesson, but she woke me up good and proper. I’ve never been the same and I’m proud that I did not go into adulthood carrying that load of self-hatred with me.

Recently, Huffington Post writer , who is of Cameroonian heritage, penned an open letter to African immigrants, urging them to not fall victim to the same belief system.  She writes:

White Americans will say you are better than American blacks, but please do not fall for this trap. You will be told you behave better, work harder, and are more educated than American blacks. You will be tempted to agree and will sometimes want to shout, “YES, I’M NOT LIKE THEM, WE AFRICANS ARE DIFFERENT!” Just don’t…don’t even think it.

The praise of your acquired characteristic and culture becomes a justification for white Americans to perpetuate discriminatory treatments towards American blacks. These statements of praise have an underlying message of, “If Africans can do so well then surely racism has nothing to do with anything, therefore, American Blacks are to be blamed for their condition in America”. This problematic line of reasoning sustains cultural racism. I beg of you, refrain from nodding in agreement when you receive such faulty praise.

Indeed, West Indians, like the African immigrants described in Seppou’s letter, are guilty of the same misdeeds. In wanting to carve out a place for ourselves in a society where being black places you on the bottom rung, we have perpetuated the belief that we are better than our African American counterparts.

Caribbean culture and African culture are different than African American culture. But when we celebrate our uniqueness, it should never be to shame African American culture.

I'm a Lipstick-obsessed Journalist and Fashion Blogger. You can find me over on my blog or youtube channel swatching lippies and strutting around in 5-inch heels. I'm a also a brand coach, specializing in video marketing and digital brand development. Find me @lisaalamode.

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325 Comments on "How I Learned That Being West Indian Didn’t Make Me Better Than African Americans"

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CameronJada
Thanks you for acknowledging that there is a difference between Africans, African Americans (or Black Americans, the name changes so much), and West Indian/Caribbean Americans. I don’t think one is better than the other. More often than not in big cities like NYC, Orlando, Miami, Atlanta, etc. we all live among each other and get along. We are all Black but have different cultures, ethnicities, come from different countries with different languages and histories. Sometimes, White America only wants to acknowledge the difference when they want to pose us against each other hahahhha. But otherwise, they treat us like they… Read more »
Bryce

We are all Black people however African American and Afro-Caribbean are separate and distinct ethic groups. The same way you have many Irish-Americans and German-Americans but they’re both White.

Melody Mise

Thank You!

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

We are all AFRICAN PEOPLE!!! Because enslavers dropped one person off on an different island DOES NOT MAKE YOU A DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUP!!! At more, you may have develop some CULTURAL difference, and thus can claim a CULTURAL DIFFERENCE…But, “ethnic;’ can on — think about it!!! Angela Bruce Rayburn’s father got it right long ago…IT IS A “DIVIDE AND CONQUER” technique, which, unfortunately, has been working extremely well on us for CENTURIES!!! BREAK THE CYCLE, Diaspora, and Continental, AFRICANS!!!!

Bryce

We are all of African descent, yes! But if I were to walk into any country in Africa today, I would stick out like a sore thumb. I don’t know their culture, customs, or traditions. I am not African! My Ghanian friends are African, my Jamaican friend isn’t.

I understand we want to reclaim our heritage and I do. I love my Blackness and my African roots, but if you say I’m African, I’m going to correct you.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa
PS: Both Ireland and German could both fit into many, individual, African countries, old empires, and/or Ethnic enclave of today….A big problem SEEMS TO BE that only when Africa and its descendants are discussed, there is a HUGE confusion about the identities, and terms, or: CITIZENSHIP, CULTURAL GROUPS, ETHNIC GROUPS, and RACIAL GROUPS!!! The race is Homo Sapiens, unless people are trying to discriminate against certain groups FOR POLITICAL REASONS, usually!! The ethnic groupings are African, Europe, Asian, and other MAJOR phenotype-different groups!! The cultural groups tend to be those differences AROUND DAILY lifestyle uniquenesses, usually found WITHIN ethnicities!! Culture… Read more »
Bryce

You have no idea what ethnicity means do you? Race is a social construct that we all participate in. Our species is Homo sapiens. Our race (or rather mine) is Black. My ethnicity is African American and Afro-Caribbean.

If you think culture = lifestyle you are very misinformed. A culture is a way of life of a group of people, the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next. That’s much more than “lifestyle”.

Dee

I haven’t had any issues with Caribbean folks at all.

The only Africans that I have issues with are cab drivers in my area. One of them refused to pick me and other African Americans up (this was before Uber came about).

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

So what??? Does that mean that this is not an issue FOR OTHERS??? Dee, people will not tell you, but commenting on your SOLELY on your own PERSONAL experience shows a very limited outlook!! So, Please, please, please start thinking BEYOND YOURSELF, and your personal experiences!! Learn about the world outside of your own views, experiences, and beliefs!! There is actually more to the world than you: as my father used to stay, “What YOU don’t know would make a new world!!”

Sarah Swan-Yarrell
That isn’t only her experience. It is the experience of many African Americans here. They will look at your skin and gender and decide if they want to pick you up or not. Some have also harassed black women and have actually acted in what can be called a violent and harsh manner. I know of many and I myself had to have one taken before their taxi and limousine board. For taking my cousin and daughters on a very scary ride after he tried to over charge them. And thanks to cellphones I was able to get hold of… Read more »
mhfrancois52
As a Haitian man who graduated college I’ve been through the exact same situation when I moved to the United States. It’s like I had walked into a battlefield. It’s been 12 years, now I have an understanding of what has been going on. When they see or hear you with your different accent, your different sounding name, your different way of carrying yourself, deep down they don’t think any higher of you. They are actually surprised and angry to find out that somewhere outside of their white bubble, black people have managed to evolve and progress from the white… Read more »
James Morgan III

I love how we as Africans no matter where dispersed in this world, are trying to measure up a European standard of acceptability. As an African American I don’t understand this sense of trying to prove ourselves to anyone and while I recognize Africans in the diaspora and in Africa have had divergent experiences in the past few centuries, I believe we need to identify with Africa first and foremost as that is the base for our culture today.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

100%, Brother!!! 🙂

Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi
Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi

Drop the mic!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sdal

I think you need to speak for yourself and not stereotype West Indians in order to discuss stereotyping. Most don’t share your views. Your superiority complex is yours alone boo. Just speak for yourself.

mariebuch

You need to read the literature on Caribbean immigration to see that she is not just blowing hot air. I applaud you for being egalitarian, by not all my Caribbean people are like you.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

Try Dat, Sista!! Sdal, PLEASE, don’t get so defensive!! Look outside of yourself sometimes, too — you might find A WHOLE OTHER WORLD out there! All the best!….And, thanks Marie

dopper0189

Exactly. For me the biggest thing is food. As a Jamaican their is a lot of food that I like that African-Americans don’t and vice versa. There is a lot of just expecting I like some foods they do. It’s very annoying.

Music too, but not to the same degree.

TWA4now

I like Jamaican food and music…it all depends on the person! : )

dopper0189

I just want black people of immigrant backgrounds to have their own census category like every other race/nationality does. Look at Latinos they can list Mexican/Cuban/Puerto Rican, etc Asians can list Japanese/Chinese/Indian etc, whites can list English/German/Irish/Italian etc. 12% of the US black population is now of foreign decent yet we only get 1 category!

Cosita
You need to check your facts. That is not how the US census works for race. Latino is not a race and is not among the race choices on the US census. In fact the US government’s position is that Latino or Hispanic can be of any race. This is what US Government defines as black: Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. These are not MY words but straight from the US Gov. Website which is why for the life of me I can’t understand how subsaharan descent… Read more »
dopper0189
You’re missing my point. I attached a link to the US Census form from 2010. Notice that whites, Latinos, and Asians are ALL given a chance to list their national origin. Blacks are not. THAT is my point. 12% of blacks in the US are from an immigrant background (1 out of 8) yet the census doesn’t account for it. Look at the form. I quite aware of how Latinos are listed on the form. Part of my family is Cuban. What is confusing you is that the census ask for both race AND ethnicity, that’s why it ask for… Read more »
Cosita
Ok. So am I right to say you want to be asked your race then go the extra step of asking country of national origin? Again Hispanic is NOT a race according to the US Gov. The form allows you to mark both race and hispanic. So a lot of the people who mark black can also be marking Cuban, Dominican, etc. Your family would not be left out. If I understand your complaint then if anything the blacks may feel left out would be the non latino ones. I looked at your link. I saw no boxes for nation… Read more »
Kellance Young

Enough with these racial classifications pink toes use these only to benefit themselves and continue to economically disenfranchise other groups 2020 census I’m checking off Native American because I was born here and no I’m not denying my African lineage many of my ancestors were most likely here before any Europeans ask Columbus

LetsTalkRaeStyle

True!

dopper0189

Just because you don’t like a difference, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist….

Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi
Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi

There is a huge difference between Native American and American Native. Unless your foreparents were original inhabitants of these lands, you’re not Native American. If you’re 1/128th or 1/64th Native American, doesn’t make you Native American. It makes you Black American Native. Huge difference!

LetsTalkRaeStyle

That should let you know how they view us. They don’t have a category for Afro-Latinos.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa
That’s called CULTURAL GROUP, dropper!! But, please, tell me WHY? Instead of looking for more ways to socially divide-and-conquer yourself out…why??? Look how the so=called “whites,” of different European cultural groups come together with the British (who have dogged us ALL — including the other “white groups”) to oppress us!! And those Latino grouping you mentioned are NATIONALITIES/citizenship differences — they are ALL ethnically either Natives (American), Europeans, and/or African-descendents, of variety cultural differences!!! Or, am I missing your point, and you are instead calling for us to get MORE involved with our African ETHNIC ancestry, so that we will… Read more »
dopper0189
D. Wole look at the census form. Whites are asked their ancestry (English, German, Irish, Italian, etc), Asians (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Filipino), as are Latinos (Mexican, Puerto Rican, etc). Blacks are the only group that don’t get that treatment. So yes, I think listing nationalities are important. African Americans have a unique culture formed by merging several West and Central African cultures, in the (mostly) American South. Same is true of the black Caribbean. The foods, music, and culture are different. We have all united as black people, but I also think it’s good to acknowledge it. Nothing to do… Read more »
Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi
Sharon Equality-Now Johnson Mi

This is the dumbest, most ignorant shyt I’ve seen written since the internet began. You could’ve kept that ignorance to yourself.

dopper0189

What ever….

NikkiNYC

As an African American H.R. Coordinator and Jr. accountant I have been asked often if i’m Caribbean. One prospective candidate for employment so far to say “I’m suprised you are American. Most American people don’t have high ranking positions. They don’t work very hard either”. This sickens me to see the onward trend of bashing. These stereotypes discrediting my history, my ancestors, my culture who’ve faught damn hard for every minority to reap benefits of our suffrage leaves me speechless.

Tracienatural

NikkiNYC, don’t get offended if you are mistaken for another group of African people. You are African, too. When people tell you they thought you were of another group, just laugh and tell them your excellent because it’s the African in you!

AfroCapricornette

If this was a candidate for employment, did you just sit there and take the insult or did you do something about it?

Elodie Careme
Looking at the comments, I really feel like people missed out on the real topic here and are jut falling into petty unnecessary arguments. Maybe the article is a bit confused and clumsy at times, it is often the case when someone relates her story with very personal anecdots, feelings etc. I am both from Martinique and Guadeloupe (call it West Indian, French Caribbean as you like as I don’t care) and I do know about this hierarchy between the African diaspora. Martinique and Guadeloupe still being French territories benefit from the better living conditions in the Caribbean (public transport,… Read more »
Helix Powers
Good luck trying to convince most of these bougie Black people that they are inferior you’d have better luck at a homeless shelter in Manhatten. Most Black people will never look at themselves as being inferior and rightfully so. Everybodies in this screwed up world together and guess what everything in the world is pegged to the PETRO dollar which is rapidly declining! Hold on to your weaves, fake eyelashes, make-up and hair products ya’ll better stock up now because its going to be some rough looking people out here when this dollar collapses. Show me someone who does not… Read more »
Southern Black Belle
I think you missed the most important fact (amongst many missed) you forgot to mention that were it not for us uneducated, ugly, misbehaving African Americans YOU would not be welcomed here. Not sure if you’ve heard of this little thing called the civil rights movement that paved the way for YOUR acceptance here in America. Not sure why your parents didn’t fill your heads with that concept – speaking of uneducated. Yes it inflames me that West Indians come here from extremely poor THIRD WORLD countries to turn their noses up at African Americans and put all of us… Read more »
WebGarv
Southern Black Belle, just so you know, my Caribbean compatriots as well as my African friends have a total adoration for Dr. King and other Black American greats. We celebrate their landmark achievements in and out of the US. During the Civil Rights era, the President of my country even went so far as naming the main avenue from the airport to downtown “Dr. Martin Luther King Avenue”, so visitors knew where we stood. We black foreigners also admire your sports, artistic, and philosophy greats (Dr. Maya Angelou comes to mind.) My personal gripe with Black Americans is their obsession… Read more »
Virtual Belinda

Stop speaking on things you don’t understand.

STOP

“My personal gripe with Black Americans is their obsession with blaming
white people for everything. Your people must find a way to move on…”

Please have two seats. Stop while you’re ahead. You have NOTHING to offer about the policies and legacy of this country. ONLY the Amerindians and the indigenous Black population are in a place to speak on the legacy and policies of the African Holocaust in the United States. You have no place and it’s not your damn business.

I don’t tell a jew to just “move on” when speaking on the Jewish Holocaust. Again, KNOW YOUR PLACE.

Tracienatural
Southern Belle, try not to worry yourself so much with what you think others think of you. I don’t believe most Caribbean and African people think African Americans are ugly and uneducated. How? You’ve lived in the wealthiest country in the world, have internationally known HBCUs that Caribbean and African foreign students have attended for decades, and some of the most beautiful and talented black people in the world are African Americans! Love, there will always be haters, backwaters, coons, sellouts, and ignorant unconscious folk. Just focus on the positive, conscious and loving black people who knows they’re African and… Read more »
Jamilah Hamilton

I’m glad someone brought this thought out. It was definitely not clearly acknowledged in the article. Blacks from the Caribbean and African countries should acknowledge what Blacks in the US did for them by setting the foundation for their acceptance here instead of looking down their noses at them.

Broomy
Oh so a white person said “go back go Africa” and that somehow defines who you are? Why do we continue to see ourselves through the eyes (prejudices, hatreds, stereotyping etc) of others. mainly “da white peoples”? Persons of African descent are as diverse as any other group of people and there is absolutely no problem with claiming our diversity. Try confusing a french person with a German or an Aussie with a New Zealander…after you get cussed out come tell me there is no diversity in a race. As far as seeing ourselves as “better than”…it is my experience… Read more »
pail

West India is an European concept. When they discovered the Carribean islands they believed they were in India and when they find out that they were mistaken, the named the islands West indies to distinguish from the real India. Haiti being the first island colonized is actually the prototype West India.

Landa

Correct, you are.

S Dub

You need to know YOUR history. Google West Indian boo.

S Dub

There is a Dutch, French, and British West Indies….. They ARE just as west indian as the English speaking (British West Indies)… If you were an “Actual West Indian” you would have known that. Next time you want to spit your “erroneous” facts…. use Google.

Elodie Careme

I don’t think that the whole “West Indian” discussion is really just semantics and not the core of the problem. I believe she just meant “Caribbean”. There is no need to raise another argument here and start saying people they don’t know their origin etc.

maralondon
Being comfortable around many races has been and still is our downfall. To say that slavery wasn’t harsh in the Caribbean is a complete insult to the Ancestors. Murder is murder and abuse of the highest level is still abuse. Slavery was the most despicable crime committed on our people, it didn’t matter where in the Americas you were. Technically slavery had not ended until some 30 years after the abolition. The abolition was complete propaganda because it was all about Britain being in a position to industrialise their countries. Once the trade was no longer viable we were useless… Read more »
WebGarv

Lisa Jean Francois, this is a minefield. I am Caribbean. Black Enterprise posted these data: http://www.blackenterprise.com/money/black-immigrants-in-u-s-earning-30-more-than-u-s-born-blacks/. Oprah Winfrey herself opened a school for girls in South Africa because, she says, Black Americans are more interested in sneakers than in education. I have close Black American relatives, but I don’t feel that as a whole their culture is reaching out to white people who are reaching out to them. There is way too much unnecessary “us against them (whites)” going on in Black American culture, which may explain why whites are more accepting of black foreigners.

Bettina Burrell
You seem to have gotten caught up in the web that the writer is warning about. First, I tried Googling this quote you say comes from Oprah Winfrey because I find it completely unbelievable that an American black public figure of the multitude of Oprah Winfrey would make such an insulting statement toward her own culture. Not only would such a statement stereotype us as a whole but it would risk alienating a large portion of her audience. I found no such statement from Oprah Winfrey so you need to check your source. As far as your blaming my culture… Read more »
WebGarv

Believe me my culture has its weaknesses and I will be the first to acknowledge that. I invite you to do the same. Here is Oprah’s well known quote: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20005585,00.html. Also, to clarify, Dr. King couldn’t be successful if whites didn’t embrace his movement. Neither could Obama be President if it weren’t for the wide support of whites. Those whites are the ones I say are “reaching out” to Black America. Love & Peace.

1 of 2GallowaySisters

I’m sorry but white ppl killed mlk. And just because white ppl support the movement doesn’t mean black ppl are the cause of the problem . Have u heard of the tipping point? It suggests that 80% of the work is done by 20% of the ppl. Assuming that’s true, only 20%of racist white ppl are needed to be a driving force against the cause. This majority of white ppl that u are referring are not the problem, and are not the main subject of this topic.

Bettina Burrell
There is no culture in the world that is perfect, I never said that the American black culture did not have weaknesses but as stated previously, American blacks are working within the constructs of the society that was created by white people. Of course there have been white people that have been friends to the black community and they have been welcomed. But we have been here a long time so we know you have to proceed with caution. But this article is about how the author, as a black of Haitian origin, learned that she was not better than… Read more »
WebGarv

Following the race but not culture logic, a “ghetto” person would be as accepted as a doctor, an attorney, etc., provided they are both Black? I find it hard to believe.

Bettina Burrell
That’s not my logic. It’s actually the reverse. I’m saying that many whites in the country make no distinction of any kind between black people; class or as you think, culture, does not matter to them. They think badly and speak badly of black people no matter who they are and what their station is in life. If you find it hard to believe, I have two words for you: President. Obama. Never has a president in the history of this country been treated so disrespectfully as our first Black president. And they call him a ni**er too. So you… Read more »
BlackAndBrilliant

You are a mental Muhammad Ali….I love it!!!

E[o

Well said! As a college educated professional myself, lest this WebGarv forget? “As Black people, regardless of the geographical region one came from, we are ALL equally hated under the same microscope.”

Epi

Well said! As a college educated professional myself, lest this WebGarv forget? “As Black people, regardless of the geographical region one came from, we are ALL equally hated under the same microscope.”

Cosita
Interesting point about regional differences among black Americans. I have noticed people on here from other countries who get upset if we lump their cultures together and rightfully so. But there seems to be no problem lumping black American culture as being all the same. Realize this is a big place and we have states that are larger than some of your countries so why would we all have same culture? For example where I live we are in the middle of Carnival season. Do you think black in Kentucky or New Jersey do this? Do you think they eat… Read more »
Cosita

You sound ridiculous and self hating. I am black American and I love being of African heritage. I went to the Bahamas on a family vacation as a teenager and it is beautiful. And the peope were wonderful.

Cosita
I have heard about this way more than I have experienced it. But I have close family from the Caribbean, South America and from Africa. We see cultural diffences but see each other as black people. I honestly can’t remember ever hearing my family say anything negative about West Indies people. I have also dated guys from South Africa and Dominican Republic and we saw ourselves as culturally but not racially different. . I seen more negativity from blacks in other countries toward black Americans and vice versa on this site than I have ever experienced in “real” life. I… Read more »
Kim

Haitians aren’t West Indians. Know your history.

Tiffany
Im not sure how I feel about the tone of this article. It suggests that carribean and african cultures are more synonymous than african American cultures vs african/Caribbean cultures. Why are african Americans outcasted? The whole discussion has many flaws. For one, it is unfair to judge all african Americans as the same. Last time I checked, there are 50 states in America and we are all different from the accents we have, food we eat (I.e. Pulled pork in North Carolina vs Cajun food in Louisiana). Also, it is unfair to judge *all* carribean blacks the same, and the… Read more »
Actual West Indian
Last I checked, while Haiti is geographically located in the West Indies, culturally Haitians are NOT West Indian. West Indian in a cultural context refers to the English-speaking Caribbean that was governed by the British West India Company. Thus, when one says West Indian they mean someone who is of English-speaking Caribbean descent, such as those from Jamaica, Trinidad, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Guyana, etc. Haitians are part of the French Caribbean, along with Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin, etc. and therefore not West Indian. So, Ms. Lisa Jean Francois was erroneously feeling superior of African Americans and united with West… Read more »
Sugabelly
I think part of the issue is that Africans who move to the US are put under a lot of pressure to assimilate to African American culture, and this comes in the form of people just mistaking us for African Americans, or making comments like “you’re all black anyway, so what difference does it make?”. Comments like that are very erasing, and people in America don’t understand that most Africans’ default identity is NOT black. Growing up in Nigeria, I didn’t wake up in the morning and think to myself, “I am a black person”. I woke up thinking “I… Read more »
Cosita
I get what you are saying and understand you want to identify with your culture and ethnic group. You also said you see yourself as black in comparrison to white people. The US is mostly white people. Seems to me anyone clearly of Subsaharan African decent who chooses to immigrate to a predominantly white country would arrive expecting to be considered black. I don’t understand the surprise. Of course the social dynamics are not going to be the same as in a predominantly black or black-mixed race country. That is not to say that race is all of who you… Read more »
Ganadora Loteria

I feel the same way. As a non-US black person, I have experienced more xenophobia from black Americans than any other group of people.

This article is based on someone’s personal experience but it fails to mention the other side of the argument, which is black American distain, ignorance and erasure of non-US black cultures.

Kendra

I grew up with a African American Father from Georgia and a West Indian mother. I didn’t see the difference between both sides pf my family until I got older.All I saw was BLACK. We’re all AFRICAN DECEDENTS. We need to stop perpetuating stereotypes among ourselves!!

TWA4now

So true…in my family we. range from passing white to blue black…we are ALL beautiful…we need learn and appreciate that ASAP!

Reina

Definitely grew up in a Haitian household, in a West Indian-esq neighborhood… and it was definitely an us vs them mentality across the board. But what I ended up telling my parents was that ever generation birth onto American soil is now going to be labeled as African American… better known as American Black, so the people they are criticizing are literally their own children.
That concept was too hard for them to adjust to

Bryce

The reason why I still don’t accept that is because African American is an ethnic group and is not synonymous with the term Black. People need to understand that. It’s like saying every White person is Irish American. That simply isn’t true.

We’re all Black but Afro-Caribbean people are not ethnically the same as African Americans.

cici

How carribean people are not the same as african americans?

Bryce
Racially most are the same, however ethnically they aren’t. They don’t share the same culture. A culture is defined by language, traditions, etc. While both groups can trace a large portion of their heritage to Africa, their foods aren’t the same and they don’t have the same cultural traditions. My mother is from Trinidad and my Father is from North Carolina. Both sides of my family cross over and interact however neither side knows the slightest thing about the culture of the other. It’s the same way that someone from Spain and someone from Germany aren’t the same. They’re both… Read more »
Reina

But African American IS synonymous with the term Black, along with the Caribbean and African cultures. Black is the category, Nationality is the sub-category and any traceable lineage. Just like White Americans are under the category White and sub category is wherever their family came from pre-columbus. And a lot of white people know where their family lineage is from.
Just like Christian would be the Category, and then the denomination: Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Evangelical, Protested… etc is the Sub-Category. Its all still Christianity in the end.
So we are all still Black at the end of the day

Bryce
I never said we aren’t Black, you’re not arguing with me there. I said we aren’t all African American. African American and Black aren’t the same thing. African American is an ethnicity, Black is a race. That’s like saying Spanish (Spain) and White is the same thing. I’m Black and I am both African American and Afro-Caribbean among other things. My mother is Black but she is not African American, she was born in Trinidad and is culturally different from my father who is African American and whose family is from North Carolina. Yes, at the end of the day… Read more »
Bryce

To sum up my longer comment: Someone who is descended from slaves in the U.S. is considered African American. If you aren’t from the U.S. but you are of sub-Saharan African descent or you are descended from slaves brought to the Caribbean or Latin America, you are Black, but that ? African American.

Ganadora Loteria

How can African-American be synonymous with the term Black? Do black/African Americans own the patent on the term ‘black’? No.
And this is the issue, when you say that black and African American are synonymous, you erase every non-US black person. This is why most non-US black people do not identify as black when in the US because of this constant erasure and centering of black/African Americans within blackness.

Chantell Bent
IFirstly I am Jamaican and not all west indian or caribbean people have what I call identity issues. I know who my people are and where they came from. I am proud to be of african descent. Now I seriouslyp have an issue with you calling us names and demeaning my country and culture. Now i have a question do you not have poor people everywhere? Does not every country have it socioeconomic issues. Do you not have crime in the US with curropted people? We seem to like perpetuating a cycle in the days if slavery field slaves distrusted… Read more »
Pamela A

Exactly, I’ve seen the same thing happen in some black Americans attitude towards black Africans. No one is a saint here.

Pamela A

Most African countries have safe drinking water and improving electricity. And many Africans are making a difference in their countries and the countries they go to. And not every black immigrant looks down on black Americans. You’re making the same racist generalizations as those misguided people.

tracienatural
*Sigh* This is such a heavy topic. When I first saw the article, I wished the author didn’t even write it, much less publish it on this blog. But, a few minutes later, I realized that sometimes you have to reveal the skeletons in the closet in order to sweep the closet clean. I might be one of the older posters here (70s baby), and I too am from lovely NYC, where a lot of these isms began. I don’t want to make this too long, but I understand how this has happened in recent history. West Indians, and some… Read more »
TWA4now

Drop the mic! Thank you! WOW, I’m blown away!!!! Key words: “Unapologetically African, love all black people.”

Coffee is for Closers
Coffee is for Closers
I’m also a 70’s baby. I’m curious where in NY you grew up? I grew up in Brooklyn where Americans and Caribbean people lived in overlapping neighborhoods and American blacks participate in Caribbean celebrations such as labor day and eat the food regularly. There were a lot of just pro black events at Brooklyn Academy of Music during memorial Day weekend, June Balloon at the Bk Children’s museum etc, Street fairs with African vendors, Soul food and jerk chicken. In spite of that, I do feel some Caribbean blacks – not all, act as if they are superior to American… Read more »
Tracienatural

Just saw your question. I’m from the NE Bronx, bordering Mount Vernon. You are right about Brooklyn, it is much more mixed. But my area was predominantly Jamaican. NY Times dubbed it “Little Jamaica” in the ’90s. You can look up the article if you want. Of course, I lived it, so I don’t need any validation from white media lol but maybe you didn’t know about my area (had a good friend from Brooklyn who didn’t know until she came to visit ). Blessings, sis.

Pepie
One of the posters did say British Caribbean people can sometimes be haughty and this is true up to this day. I came to NYC from the Guyana 10 years ago. I traveled my little region and I love my West Indian people but sometimes we get head of ourselves. I dated an AA while doing my first Masters Degree here and i was embarrassed when she said West Indians think we are better than them. We need to be more cognizant of the things we say and the way we think about people who have sacrificed much and continue… Read more »
DreaMLC
I don’t mind your long post at all. In fact, it has saved me from writing a perhaps even longer post, lol. I too am a 70’s baby born in Brooklyn to Jamaican ( products of the British Caribbean) parents, but raised primarily in Jamaica, Queens. My early experience in Brooklyn was fine, I was very young and hadn’t even realized that we were “different” until we moved to Queens, there were still many blacks there who’d migrated from the South. They were not very welcoming at first, and I was ridiculed for the food I ate, how properly I… Read more »
L
Thank you for sharing this. It is truly a serious issue. As an African-American, I have encountered Carrbbeans and Africans with that ignorant mentality, and it makes me nauseous. I immediately lose respect for individuals like that. We are all black in the eyes of white people and they do not know the difference unless you tell them your nationality. We need to stick together and end this stupidity. I’ve had many experiences with this and unfortunately lost a great and close friend who is Afro-French and have had to put people in their place, and “surprised” people because I’m… Read more »
Nola Q. Darling
Don’t worry- we blk Americans are taught the same things about Africans and West Indians- that they are ignorant, they think they are better than blacks, and that they come to the US with an entitlement complex. Conversely, we’re taught not to date or commingle with people who aren’t born with American citizenship. We are taught that islanders are savages. Goes both ways. I’m 33, I’ve traveled the world, I have professional certifications and I’m in IT Management. After four years of living in Florida (I was raised in the north), I still have yet to make friends with Caribbean… Read more »
Tracienatural

Sorry to hear this, sis. I live in South Florida now (from NYC). Too bad we don’t know each other. I’m sure we’d be friends, or at least happy acquaintances lol. I hope you get to meet more of the kind, accepting, and conscious Caribbean and African people. Ase.

I'land Gyal

I feel so sad for you. There’s more to the world than your small, sad existence. Take a trip, read a book, and FORGIVE yourself. It’s going to be okay! 🙂

ibutcherii
rainbow

Not all black Londoners know their background. Immigrants from the Caribbean don’t know what part of Africa they are from.

lis

Hmm…I see some of your points but as a Jamaican you should know that slavery in Jamaica was noted for its brutality…..In fact for a long time there was more foreign born Blacks than native born because soo many died young and it was cheaper to import Africans than to take care of the ones already there….and Jamaican slavery was only a few decades shorter than American slavery….A Mixed people?….Ok…….The few…..but I see some of your points.

lis

Yes but those are the foreign born Blacks they let into the country. …The educated middle class ones who would thrive in any country……less in numbers….(especially when the way was made easier by the native born Blacks)….and they and their children can be contrasted with the Blacks in say France who are African and West Indian background but are not doing as well….and that is not to take away from their success?

lis

‘We have nothing’……oooohhhh?????????

lis

Milly….it is human nature and it is disgusting. …isn’t it?

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