When the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909, it was clear that the term “colored” applied to Negroes. That was evident in the leadership, membership and the issues the NAACP advanced. For many years, “colored” was the perfectly acceptable and polite appellation, just as “black” is today. That was before Jesse Jackson introduced the geographical identity of African-American to a population of folks who mostly had no roots to the continent for hundreds of years.
It was a political designation that had no validity in biology or the contemporary history of the individual. I have a daughter who is considered African-American by today’s political standards. She is actually Jamaican and her ancestral ties to Africa were severed hundreds of years ago. But she looks the part and that is all that matters in our current political identity culture.
In the days of slavery and black oppression ruled over by our currently sanctimonious Democratic Party, a person was demeaned, shunned, outcasted for having Negro blood – even a small fraction. In polite pre-1960s southern plantation society, it was referred to as having “a n****r in the woodpile.”
(Personally, we Horists are fortunate that DNA testing was not possible in those antebellum days of yore or my family’s Nigerian ancestry – yeah, I took the test — would have put me in great disfavor.)
Because it is purely a political ethnicity, there is an absurdity inherent in the African-American designation. A lot of people who have recent ties to Africa cannot be African-Americans. This included the Arabs, the white Afrikaners and even the Israelis. Apart from Sammy Davis Jr., there are very few Jews who qualify as African-Americans.
For political reasons, the politically correct left has taken on the old racist rule that any portion of Negro blood will make you a person of color – as long as you have at least some residual physical traits. That is why Kamala Harris is being touted as one of the African-American candidates for President. Her mother is Indian (as from India). Not the ones claimed by Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Kamala’s father is Jamaican, like my daughter. He is only part African Negro, also like my daughter. That means Harris is only POLITICALLY an African-American. If she is to be known by her predominant ancestry, she is Indian or Asian-American. To resolve the issue, Harris likes to call herself black or “a person of color.” And then there is the question of why we place so much importance on that – but we’ll save that issue for a future commentary.
You cannot have tribalism via identity politics if you cannot maintain, manage and politically juxtapose groups based on perceived identity — or they start to assimilate– and that is something the authoritarian left cannot allow.
According to genetics and biology, there are three notable ethnicities within the human species — Caucasian, Negro and Asian – with most of us some combination thereof. Before progressive politicians started to play geneticists, Arabs, and our South American neighbors were considered to be a group within the Caucasian ethnicity – and especially true of the Castilian Mexicans. Asians were just Asian.
In radical liberal land, the only thing that matters is what you look like and what you might choose to self-identify as. So, if you are from Egypt, you cannot be an African-American in the United States even though you come from Africa. If you come from India, you are not considered to be black or Asian, but one of those persons of color. Turks are not considered to be Asian-American or African-American even though they could qualify as one or the other.
And what about the Italians and Greeks. They have a characteristic skin tone that is far from that of the stereotypical Irish lad. Are they people of color?
“People of color” is just another political designation that is designed to create a grand division between those of color and the white folks. You can see this being played out in left-wing politics daily.
The irony of all this identity politics crap is that it does not respect a person’s ethnicity and background. It obliterates it. In identity politics, there are not Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, Cubans, etc. They are all lumped into the Hispanic column. All people who manifest Negro features are deemed to be African-American regardless of their ancestral homeland. Politically, there are no more Chinese-Americans, Korean-Americans or Vietnamese-Americans – just a lot of Asians.
And now – under progressive thinking and Democratic Party policies we have reverse assimilation with America being seen as just two masses of conflicting people – white people and people of color, whoever they are.
It is one thing to celebrate our ancestral histories and quite another to make them the foundation of our political and cultural thinking. We should be pursuing policies based on beliefs, principles and a COMMON political culture, not our biological ancestry. This cannot happen if we cling to identity politics as the new American culture. I think we should have a designation for both me and my Jamaican daughter – and the rest of us, for that matter. We should be known as American-Americans.
So, there ‘tis.