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

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D. Wole Murray-Ifa
Inter­est­ing take on things, Fran­cois. I would like to men­tion, how­ev­er, that ONLY approx­i­mate­ly 4% of ENSLAVED AFRICANS were brought to the US…That means that near­ly 96% of US, are “some­where out­side of their white bub­ble!!!” …Real­ly, I think MOST of them know that so-called “Blacks” exist out­side of the USA :-)!! Per­haps may­be, WE are the ones who SEEMS not to know that!! Oh, and just for the record, THE LONGER YOU STAY IN THE USA, the MORE you will come to act, behav­ior, and LOOK with the “DREADED AFRICAN-AMERICANS!!!” Doubt it? Just look at how each new gen­er­a­tion… Read more »
mhfrancois52
First of all I was raised until 19 in Haiti then I moved to the USA for col­lege and stayed for per­son­al rea­sons. This arti­cle is refer­ring to peo­ple like me. You’re telling me that my mind has shift­ed towards the “DREADED AFRICAN-AMERICANS!!!” men­tal­i­ty due to the fact that I’ve relo­cat­ed myself closer to them? So for­get about my abil­i­ty to make my own obser­va­tions with the data out there show­ing the unfold­ing of the oppres­sion of black peo­ple every­where on earth? To that I’m say­ing that white oppression/ignorance is true, it’s plan­e­tary, and that we should, as Afro immi­grants from… Read more »
D. Wole Murray-Ifa

You SEEM tru­ly lost!! HOW does being drop off from a neigh­bor­ing island make you a dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ty?? THINK!!!

HOW long will it take for you to under­stand that what whites think, OR how YOU may show your igno­rance about Asian CULTURAL dif­fer­ent, does not mat­ter IF IT IS NOT CORRECT!!! Your rea­son­ing how is sim­ply FALSE!!

I guess you just may need some­one of Euro­pean descent to tell you and you are wrong to under­stand it!! Good luck CameronJada…don’t get your­self hurt one day BY THE TRUTH!!

Janice Little

A dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ty denotes a dif­fer­ent nation­al­i­ty, cul­ture & cus­toms despite belong­ing to an iden­ti­cal racial group. Caribbean peo­ples have dif­fer­ent cus­toms from U.S blacks just as there are cul­tur­al dif­fer­ences between Irish, Ital­ians or whites of Ger­man ances­try. How­ev­er, in the U.S.A race is more impor­tant than cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty. Race is polit­i­cal & it trumps cul­ture in Amer­i­ca. There­fore, all blacks are lumped togeth­er just as all whites are lumped togeth­er as one.

Krokrokoto

This was a very sad day for me: I almost gave up my social media activism! Two unre­lat­ed inci­dents:

1.This black girl called her African boyfriend an African mon­key just because she was angry at my friend! 

2.An African female friend of mine called her hair dresser a cot­ton pick­er ( Akata) because she stood her up! 

I am dis­ap­point­ed at all of us!

So Raya

smh “AKATA” does not mean cot­ton pick­er.
It is a yoruba term which means “cat that has lost it’s home/wild cat”.

LetsTalkRaeStyle

What so many peo­ple fail to real­ize is that our ances­tors are the same! We were jsut dropped off in dif­fer­ent places. As an African Amer­i­can wom­an I absolute­ly hate that we dont have a real cul­ture to con­nect to like those from the West Indies, etc. We as African Amer­i­cans were stripped of our cul­ture and the ones that we cre­ate for our­selves is often mocked and then stolen by the dom­i­nant cul­ture. Know that we are all one!

Lavish D

Thank you for this time­ly advise & rule of thumb!
“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”.
Pass it along!!

Empathy and Love

I am so hurt after read­ing the­se com­ments look what they done to us. I love my African and Caribbean sis­ters and broth­ers. As African Amer­i­cans we were taught to hate our­selves. I’m so sor­ry we treat­ed you’ll with same nas­ti­ness, it’s the rem­nants of slav­ery and now your vic­tims of inter­nal racism. I want so much more for us as peo­ple, none of us want this oppres­sion it hurts so bad and it’s so deep.

Angela Bruce Raeburn
From the first day I arrived in this coun­try — my Guyane­se dad told me that I was not bet­ter than African Amer­i­cans. He told me that it was the strat­e­gy — to divide and con­quer. To con­vince us Caribbean peo­ple that were bet­ter so they could be absolved of the racism and the hate that defines this coun­try. Once I under­stood it — it was clear to me that Black Amer­i­cans have fought the fight — and we have come into their coun­try and we were able to thrive on the backs of the march­es, the dogs, the fire… Read more »
MyTake305

Smart dad!

blogdiz

late to the thread as a fel­low West Indi­an thanks for say­ing this

STOP

This is what hap­pens when you want to raise your child well. You edu­cate them to life’s real­i­ties. You have a good father and a clar­i­ty many lack.

SouthernBelle

THANK YOU!!!!! And God bless your father…,we love you guys and see you as our broth­ers and sis­ter but often­times the sen­ti­ment you just expressed is nev­er expressed.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

Excel­lent, excel­lent, excel­lent!! And, con­grat­u­la­tions on be blessed with a father who under­stood geo-polit­i­cal real­i­ties!! You can see after read­ing this Sista’s arti­cle, that your father’s advice has placed you are ‘WAY ahead of the game!’ Ase ooo

LetsTalkRaeStyle

Tell your Dad I said he’s awe­some!

Black Women

This is only a real fac­tor in NYC, true igno­rance. Oprah Win­frey is one of the rich­est wom­en in the world, and she still has prob­lems with racism. I guess she would­nt have those prob­lems if she was from the caribbean? Wake up peo­ple this is self hatred, and the need to put oth­ers down so you feel bet­ter about your­self. Mon­ey beau­ty nor fame will save you from the racism in Amer­i­ca. Edu­cate your­self because in oth­er states you expe­ri­ence more dis­crim­i­na­tion being a black for­eign­er.

Nunya Biznys

Hav­ing a supe­ri­or­i­ty com­plex is always tox­ic and it is always based on lies and false pride. I applaud thus writer’s hon­esty and courage on this impor­tant top­ic. It would seem that Indige­nous peo­ple and African Amer­i­cans made such huge sac­ri­fices to pave the way for oth­er minori­ties to expe­ri­ence greater equal­i­ty, only to slip fur­ther down the totem pole while they move up with ease. On anoth­er note, In col­lege, I spent time with both the African and Caribbean stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions. They were wel­com­ing to all.

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

We are ALL Africans, dropped off of the boat in dif­fer­ent locations.…that’s ALL!!!!

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.

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”.

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.

Melody Mise

Thank You!

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.

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

Drop the mic!!!!!!!!!!!!!

D. Wole Murray-Ifa

100%, Broth­er!!! :-)

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!

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.…

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 with… Read more »
LetsTalkRaeStyle

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

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

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!

dopper0189

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

LetsTalkRaeStyle

True!

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 peo­ple… 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 black,… 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 »
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.

AfroCapricornette

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

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!

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, State,… 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 »
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.

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 »
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 »
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.

Virtual Belinda

Stop speak­ing on things you don’t under­stand.

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 that… 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 »
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.”

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.”

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.

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 »
BlackAndBrilliant

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

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 »
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.

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 am an… 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.

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 »
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.

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

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.

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.

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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
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.

TWA4now

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

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