Black and Ethnic
I gave a speech the other day in Iowa. One topic that came up was pride: ethnic pride, among black folks ... and whether that pride can actually be divisive.
A Haitian-American freshman said that Haitians were better than black Americans because they had kicked the French out of their homeland. (Read more about the fascinating rebellion led by Toussaint L'Overture. Danny Glover -- whose film company is called L'Overture Films -- is working on a film version of the revolution.)
I asked her friend, a black American woman, how she felt about the first woman's comment. The second student said she was hurt in some ways, but she understood. "Our pride gets in the way," she said. "Black people are proud people; and Haitians are proud people. And we should be proud of each other, but sometimes our pride gets in the way."
Inter-ethnic issues are increasingly big in the black community ... Take a gander at an article by one of our contributors, Meri Danquah. Recently, someone went off on her about Barack Obama not being black enough and then how haughty Africans are. She writes:
"I bit my lip and listened to his diatribe against African immigrants. Surely, I thought, he's forgotten who he's talking to. That didn't come as much of a surprise. I find that a lot of people forget I'm an immigrant; more precisely, an African immigrant."
I was raised to take pride in everyone else's pride. My mother took us to dance at the Greek festival and go to the Irish festival. Everyone's joy was our joy.
But too often the opposite happens. You see street fights breaking out between people of different ethnic groups on the edges of festivals, and any spark can light a fire ... not just something as big as Rodney King, but smaller misunderstandings.
Which brings me back to the big picture. What we're seeing now is the rise of the black ethnic ... you know how, in some circles, Irish, Italians, Armenians and other folks are considered "ethnic" whites.
Now we're seeing the rise of black ethnics: Haitian-Americans, Jamaican-Americans, Nigerian-Americans, and so on and so on.
If you're black American or ANOTHER ethnicity and black, what do you make of how we do (or don't) get along? Are we even the same?
It's a question that's come up a lot in this presidential race. Will it transform America?