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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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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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