The Afronista Rants #.05: Why Do I Get To Be Hyphenated?

How come if you’re not white you have to be a hyphenised something? Like, why am I stupidly referred to as an African-American? Why is the lady that cleans my house a Hispanic-American? Why is the girl who does my nails referred to as Asian even though she was born here and so were her parents and grandparents?

What am I talking about, you ask?

Okay, so, I was just on CNN.com and the question asks whether those that fit in the category would rather be called Latino or Hispanic. I only read about 10 responses, but the majority of them were like, “I would rather just be called American.” There were a few people who tried to incorrectly explain the difference between Hispanic and Latino, and then there was one guy who said he was Latino and some other girl who said she was Hispanic.

But, responses to surveys like these are usually lopsided because, if you think about it, who responds to CNN surveys? Moderately educated people who read a lot and pay attention to the news. Maria Vega, your average chola probably doesn’t log onto CNN everyday. Same with LeRoy Jackson from the corner, Gong Li from the nail shop and Bobbi Jo from the trailer park down the street.  I’m sure that sounds all very racist, but it’s true.

Several comments jumped out at me. Several people asked why do I have to either be a Hispanic-American or Latino-American? Why can’t I just be an American?

I’ve asked myself this question all the time. Why do I have to be an African-American? This term annoys me so much. It’s such a senseless ignorant term and so many people who use it don’t even realise it.

African-American. Just listen to the sound of it. AFRICAN-AMERICAN.

Half of us are still confused as to Africa’s state. It’s a continent, not a goddamn country. So to everyone going around calling themselves African-American, what are you trying to say? Are you trying to tell me where you and your people are from? If so, you still haven’t really told me. That doesn’t really identify you since there are so many damn tribes and countries in Africa. You can’t just lump them all together like they’re the same thing. What about the Egyptians and Algerians and Moroccans? They’re African nations too, but people who come here from those nations don’t refer to themselves as African-American.

Secondly, the vast majority of people who use this term are like 8th generation. I’m exaggerating, but seriously, look at it like this: unless you, your parents or your grandparents just got off the boat, you aren’t really [Insert name of African country here]-American. You’re an American, period, dot-com.

Moreover, some people who use this term don’t even know which tribes/countries of Africa their family has descended from. Yeah, yeah, I know our history is muddled because of the slave trade and all that, but if you really wanted to know you could try to find something. It would take a monumental effort and a whole lot of money, but you would find out something about your family’s history, at least enough to figure out the general region you came from.

Having said all that, why are people still using this ridiculous term? Even more, why do we have to be hyphenated anything?

The Hispanics and Latinos are asking themselves the same question. They’ve been here, their parents have been here and their grandparents have been here for years and years and years. All their children, even though they are named Jose, Maria and Julio, don’t speak a lick of Spanish, go to school in suburban Hartford, Connecticut, but they still have to be referred to as Latino or Hispanic.

First of all, just like we need clarification on “Africa,” we also need clarification on “Latino.”

All Hispanics are Latino, but not all Latinos are Hispanic. Latin/Latino refers to everything descended from the Latin language. Italian, French, Spanish, and Romanian are all Latino. Let’s not forget all the random side languages like Catalan and Bolognese. How come nobody is going around asking French-speaking Americans if they want to be called Latin-American?

Why aren’t white people referred to in the same way? Why aren’t they French-American? Irish-American? Scots-American? Welsh-American? Or whatever European Country They Came From-American?

Why do we have to be sub-categorised and white people don’t? And don’t think this is some kind of random racism, because we minorities started this crap up long before the white people did. Oh, we just had to make sure that they knew we’re from the Mother Land.

LIKE THEY CAN’T TELL JUST BY LOOKING AT US!!

White people are like, well, damn, nobody wants to be politically incorrect these days, so if you want to be African-American or whatever, we’ll call you that. Never mind how stupid it sounds.

I guess some of us feel like we need to have an identity when we really already have one, but for some reason or another we’re disconnected it from. Whether it’s by outside forces, or internal ones, some of us don’t feel like regular ole Americans.

Like I’ve said many times, I feel like racism and segregation are often perpetuated by our own stupidity, not necessarily white oppression. That doesn’t mean I don’t think some white people aren’t racist; I just happen to think that minorities segregate themselves by trying so hard to identify themselves as an entirely separate group.

Yeah, we are different. This much is obvious just by taking a look around, but if you were born here, immigrated here and want to live here forever and ever amen, and your parents were born here and so were your grandparents, you’re a GODDAMN AMERICAN and not a hyphenated anything.

That doesn’t mean forget about where your people came from and all your ancestral traditions. No, not by any means am I advocating this, but stop coming up with stupid labels to segregate yourselves and then start crying when you feel like nobody is including you.

You excluded yourself.

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