WHO AM I: THE IMPORTANCE OF IDENTITY

“Does where you come from matter?”

I have heard my whole life regarding heritage as a African American to forget about it. You’re an American, who cares about the past. And that makes sense if not for other groups of people holding on to their heritage. Another thing I’ve witnessed in my life has been the festivals and carnivals held in the name of other people’s heritage. So if everything revolves around America, how come no one ever tells Irish, Italians, Jews, Polish, Germans, English, to abandon all beliefs from those regions. In America we still celebrate these groups with events each year.

As a matter of fact the Confederate Flag, representing a group of men who aimed at keeping us enslaved is seen as a proud heritage symbol. But when I flag the Pan-African, African American Liberation flag there is an issue. So I started to think, why? You would think we are the only group seperating, but living here in New York City gave me an insight into multiple groups who still hold on to their own groups’ heritage. Well, why is it such a problem?

For starters, having a strong ethnic identity is power. Look at the groups of people with a strong cultural and ethnic identifier: Chinese, Indian, Nigerian, Jews, and Italians. These are just a few groups who take pride in their ethnicity. So much so, that their is a preference of their children marrying within the group to guarantee the continuation of the group. But the previous groups I just named are very powerful. They are rich in success, self-respect, discipline, and feel less inferior as it pertains to others. Not that they feel they are better, they just expect more.

When I look at the population of Black people in America, we use t have this in our community. But something took place over the past 30 – 40 years that changed all that. Not to mention, Jim Crow and Slavery. We are the only group in America without names, religion, homeland, military protection, nor government that will rally for the community. Yes, we are Americans by way of legality, but in order for the system to move, it usually has to involve a victim from the White community before they act.

So it brings up the question, who am I? When you live in a world where you are so frowned upon you start to search your lineage. Hoping to find something, anything that will give you an insight into where you come from. Why is it important? Because my whole life I have been reminded that you’re only a visitor, this really isn’t your country. Then if not here, where? Free slaves founded Liberia, and they have their own country. But what is our land? If I leave America, I’m still a visitor somewhere else. So I go where do I go?

In the recent years, companies like Ancestry and 23andme have aimed to aid people in their search of self. I have often contemplated using one of these services. Researchers have spent years testing groups throughout the globe. So there is a very strong confidence in the test accuracy. People may say, who cares, but I do. Like I said earlier, I am constantly being reminded either you don’t belong or you have no history. And the more disdain you receive the more you want to find out. And I am not asking for anything any other group has: cultural identity and their “own” base.

EXODUS RELOADED: WILL THERE EVER COME A TIME WHERE BLACKS WILL HAVE TO LEAVE?

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“Could it happen again?”

11% of America, this is the percent to which the African American population is made up of in this country. Now I make this statement, especially with everything that has been going on over the past few years. Will there ever come a day when we will have to leave this country and find land elsewhere? And what I mean by everything that has been going on, I’m talking about the topic of racism. Is it still an issue or not? And if it is, then you’re talking 400 years in the making since the original Africans were brought here as indentured servants. But if we do leave, where do we go? Every stretch of land is controlled globally.

What brought me to write about this topic, is that the Black experience in America is quite unique. And the context to which I am using unique is not necessarily good. Why is it unique because we are the only ethnic group with no connection to anything: language, religion, country, and government. Well everyone says this is your country. But it seems at every turn there is a constant reminder that you don’t belong. So where do you belong if not here? I mean, it’s easy to say Africa, but where? We in America are the only group without a country of origin.

People whose family came from Ellis Island (Polish, Italians, Jews, Greeks, Irish, Sicilians, etc.) have a country of origin, Mexicans, Middle Eastern, East Asian, but where do I turn. You see, when I was a small child, I would often contemplate taking my knowledge and going to aid some African country. Growing up in school I had always been academically sound, and thought, “Wow, my intellectual capital could be used in a poor African country.” Then I thought to myself, what about America. Even though you grow up with the idea that it’s possible, you really don’t think it is possible to become successful until you’re there; and even question once you’re there. There is the feeling that eventually you will get to a point where if you’re too successful you have to be brought down. Sometimes Black people will even sabotage our own successful before it can be taken from us.

In addition, I often thought, let’s assume I did leave America, how would I be received? Would I show up and people become more enraged that I am there, or would people be gracious to have someone willing to build their country? Even in this questioning I said build, “their” country. Emphasis on the word, “their”. Walking this planet as me, is like a nomadic individual looking for a home. Even when I look at the American flag, I don’t feel hate or dislike, rather I don’t associate Black people with it. I see White men and women. If you asked me what does an American look like, I would say White men and women.

This is not my opinion of what I think America is, but rather a feeling. I just don’t think America was meant for us. People may project that as hate, but I don’t hate. Now what do I do moving forward. There are a few options: stay in the country and continue to question, leave the country and go where, or stay and get lost within the future of America. Because by the year 2050, America will most likely be a Spanish speaking country. Now the plot thickens because not only are we lost in a country, but the language barrier will cause further confrontation. Because then again, this is the native land of the people speaking the language.

So I ask, will there ever be another Exodus of people. If so, will it be us (Black people) or where will we go? Our connection across the ocean has been lost in time and no where else would be as open. And if they are open, could we really call that place home. And will it only be a continuation of America? Or there is another option, purchase land on some island land mass and restart fresh. We are roughly $3 trillion of American spending, so it is possible to start our own country. Could we potentially buy our way out, or maybe that would be a reparation. America’s reparation to Black people is that we will sell you an island not charted by anyone. It’s yours to now build your future. That’s how Liberia was formed, from free Black people after slavery.

All of this sounds crazy to the average person in the world. That’s because the average person has some sort of connection to something. Growing up in school I always was one of the only Black students. And watching my White classmates, it’s almost like they just knew this was there country. Their pride made it easier for them to come into the world with confidence. I am almost 30 years of age and still trying to figure out how to fit into an environment where everything you do seems to be turned into a fault on some level. In the end, I often contemplate what my life will bring. But most of all, us as a group. Something tells me it’s not going to look good in the future. I just have a gut feeling and some may call it paranoia, but it’s my gut feeling. Throughout history man has always had to find uncharted land, so over the next 100 years I wonder what will come of us.

What Is Heritage Really: The Confederate Flag Argument

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“Is it about segregation or self-sustainability?”

Throughout the United States history, the Confederate flag has long been a subject of a lot of debates. What does this flag truly mean? Some say it is the flag that is representation of people who wanted to keep slavery going; in addition to the fact they lost the war.  Others state that it is a representation against the government not allowing the southern regions to express the freedom of the states. Then you have the those who are more overt that feel it is segregation and proud of it. I myself have views on what the Confederate flag means and why people still today fly it with pride.

In my view of what the Confederate flag means, I first try to look at the side of people who are for the flag. All throughout my own life I have heard the words pride. People state that, “It’s not racism, it’s heritage.” Now I have disagreed, but as a rational thinker I have to understand what it is before showing resentment myself. So I observe the history of the south. At the height of not only slavery, but Jim Crow, the south was the dominant region. You could almost say, if not for the most part, it’s what built the United States. Toward the end of slavery, America was the wealthiest country in the world, and it came in part because of the strong leadership of the men who built and maintained the Confederacy. (We’ll come back to the slavery aspect later).

Not only did these men lead the Confederacy, you could almost say they have taken the blame for keeping slavery going. In their defense, they would say yes we did, but the north benefited as well, if not more. To call these men in the south a bunch of hillbillies who hated African Americans was just inaccurate. Especially considering it’s what provided so much economic stability for the country that gave the men up north their power positions. Not only that, but Confederates wanted to express their own freedom of the places in which they dwelled. They felt, “We have our own government, our own self-sustaining economy, our own trade deals.” “Why should we be forced to conform to the North’s way when we obviously can have our own state.

Well this is where the idea of racism comes into play. That strong leadership, that strong economy, that strong self-sustaining system was due to African Americans being held against their will. Slavery kept the machine motors running. But in today’s society, people fly the flag and say it’s not hatred, it’s heritage. Tough to say considering the subjugation is what kept the system strong. How I see the matter, is if the Confederates would have been told, “Fine, keep your system, keep your flag, keep your everything.” “But, you can not hold these group of people against their will.” “We are not saying you’re forced to employ them or give them anything, but they are no longer held to service you.” There still would have been resistance in telling these men how to run their region of the country.

And that is what makes the heritage argument so difficult for me to understand. Because I have always asked the question, what is heritage really? It’s tough for people to explain because keeping the power was keeping Black people against their will. Now had the Confederates have said fine, we’ll free them, but we want our own system from here on out in the south. We want our own power base. Meaning our own trade deals, currency, farming techniques, government structure, and so forth. Had they have done this, the resistance would or course be there. Hell, I might even disagree, just off of the fact that we would have a split nation, but then I could to a great degree remove the slavery aspect.

And that is what makes the topic so divisive. I’m sure there are people who fly the flag as a symbol of wanting more freedom of state, or even in rebellion against our current system’s policies. But the fact remains that the men who fought so hard “did” want to keep slavery going. They “did” want to hold a group of people against their will. And whether you want to believe it or not they “were” bigoted and lost the war. So today in the year 2016 is that the case, I can’t say for sure. But in that time period it “was” about slavery as well as a symbol fighting desegregation in the south during Jim Crow.