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Ignoring or Appreciating Divergent Inheritances Among African Americans?

Intensive discussion, education, and legislation are occurring at all levels in our country on the topic of racism. We want to overcome this blight on our country, heal the ugly mistakes from the past. But are we getting it right? One basic feature of race in the U.S. is that Black Americans have two sharply distinctive historical inheritances: those who “came by boat” and stand on hundreds of years of slave ancestry, and those who “came by plane”, having immigrated from Africa or the Caribbean in recent generations. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is an example of the former; President Barak Obama is an example of the latter.

Some might say that we don’t need even more divisions. What is important is how black people in America are treated today.

Others would point to the lessons of “truth and reconciliation“ commissions in South Africa and Rwanda as proof that accurate appreciation of the past by all parties is an essential part of the process of moving forward.

What do you think?

What is your personal experience? Have you found there to be distinctive cultural or character differences between these two groups?

Why would appreciation of differences in ancestry be relevant in racial reconciliation?

Should appreciation of this ancestral distinction be highlighted in education or policy relating to improving racial relationships?

Please share your thoughts below.

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Robert Beebe
Robert Beebe
3 months ago

I find much of the ‘racism’ discussion taking place in America more to the point of dividing people, setting them against one another, rather than sincerely seeking for reconciliation and a way forward. There is no doubt that America is saddled with a racist history. At the same time we have to acknowledge there have been ongoing attempts to deal with this in accordance with the promising words of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We have definitely made progress over the years. The question is: what is the most effective way of moving forward from where we are today? I see little benefit is drudging up old grievances. It often results in living in the past as if no progress has been made and perpetuates artificial racial divides. Surely problems remain but most legal barriers to racial equality have been removed. The more we view things simply in… Read more »

Katherine Duncan
Katherine Duncan
4 months ago

Those who came by boat have a different culture than their descendants who were raped into existence, bred into slavery, separated from their families from birth, and trained to be docile slaves who then could be sold on the market as property. This group did not come by boat, they were made in the USA, for the USA, and by the USA. This breed of human is having the most difficult time in America. They are the ones who are involved in Black on Black crime, baby momma drama, the less educated, overrepresented in jails and prisons, and are still at the bottom of America’s economic ladder after having built the country for free. March 25th is the United Nations International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The aftereffect of slavery is the real issue in America and is the topic that must… Read more »

Denneze
Denneze
Reply to  James Edgerly
20 days ago

There is a reason I am not a fan of commenting on race issues. The presenters of these issues often give inaccurate information and comments are misleading. African and Caribbean people did not experience slavery any less than African American. The powerful evil of slavery was brutal and destructive to unfathomable degress everywhere it occurred. Moreover, it dominates Africa and the Caribbean today, even though colonialism has ended. I call it high tech, modernize slavery. The systems are not different from what happens in America and people lives are controlled even when the slave master does not reside in the country. It’s a long topic but I only want to say that the evil power of slavery does not differentiate which country or continent you are in, we all have the same Suffering PTSD and other ramifications.

Katherine Duncan
Katherine Duncan
Reply to  James Edgerly
3 months ago

Thank you Mr. Edgerly for responding to my comments. I make the distinction between those whose ancestors came by boat are no longer “African”. This group was bred with other races and introduced a new culture in America. I felt it was important to comment on this forum as a way of helping all of us to understand our personal responsibility to eradicate racism. We can easily point to our successes so that we can avoid the pain of the masses. In any situation there are exceptions and our bell-shaped curve is no different. There are exceptional descendants on both ends and I agree that both histories are important, however, the challenge in America with racism and the reason for all the unrest is not with those who are the exceptions. Take a look at Roxbury and Dorchester where I graduated high school after having lived on the Arkansas plantation… Read more »

Katherine Duncan
Katherine Duncan
Reply to  James Edgerly
3 months ago

Feeling the hearts of those who feel the pain of old wounds and as distasteful as the subject of reparations is, we must not allow our own personal comfort level to guide the unavoidable path we must take toward restoration. If you agree that our country is in a pitiful state of racial affairs that are impacting our world, then we must take the United Nations initiative seriously and finds ways to help rebuild those families who inherited and have been programmed for dependency and for subserviency. Not only are we faced with collective sin but we have to think about all that we inherited as well. Absolutely, building strong families is the key to healing our nation. Creating strong families comes from learning how to love within the family, however, we are faced with a culture of people who lack love for themselves and who therefore find it impossible… Read more »

Sandy Liu
Sandy Liu
4 months ago

You make an excellent distinction between Blacks who immigrated vs. descendants of the American colonial era. Some of the most highly educated and financially successful ethnic groups in America are Nigerians. I can attest, my parents came to country with nothing in their pockets, with just a hope and dream to make it based on education and opportunity. The idea of using race to promote “racial justice” and “racial reconciliation” is fundamentally racist. Dr. King said to judge people by content of character, not color of skin. People should be judged by character, actions, and their background circumstances. At the core of good personal development is the focus on family (Mormon’s “family first”) and Christian religion, which is increasing bereft in today’s society.

Bruce E. Smith
Bruce E. Smith
4 months ago

Race is a construct invented to control. One race the “human” race was created by the Creator, male and female he created them GENESIS 5:2 KJV “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” Genesis 5:2 “Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.” King James Version (KJV) So how did we get to this place called “race?” On the website created by the African American Diaspora Leadership Conference (ADLC), our Education Committee explores this issue and asks and answers some of the same questions that you do. GOTO: https://www.adlcendingracism.org/ Looking at the history of this topic, as a person who is called “colored” by some, “Black” by others, in a country with the “majority so-called White” people, I am biased against the ignorance of the… Read more »

CAROL D POBANZ
CAROL D POBANZ
Reply to  Bruce E. Smith
3 months ago

Dear Bruce,
Thanks for the push… I went to the website and also viewed the entire video on the site “White Like Me.” In that video the spokesperson Tim Wise says, “…the answer is not being color-blind…the answer is being color-conscious…”
I do however believe the goal is to be color-blind, but the means to that end is to be color-conscious. Yes, I am also grateful that the conversation has started. Work is needed on all our parts to untangle the threads of our history.

RL Randolph
RL Randolph
Reply to  Bruce E. Smith
4 months ago

Excellent response, Mr. Smith, incorporating astute observations and asking appropriate questions. My one preliminary reservation (not ‘objection’) is that I would question the premise of ‘race’s’ being a ‘construct’ — defined by Merriam-Websteras ‘a working hypothesis or concept’ and by Dictionary.com as ‘an image, idea, or theory, especially a complex one formed from a number of simpler elements.’ Race is a reality. Race is race. Certain elements of ‘race’ — skin color, national origins, educational and religious traditions, etc. — may be taken into account on the basis of external observations and made use of as contributions to a ‘construct’’; but the reality is the reality. I am pleased to note your referencing Genesis 5:2 — “Male and female created he them”— but would posit at the same time that had the scripture recorded another observation — namely, say, ‘Black and white and yellow, red, and brown created he them,’ it would be just… Read more »

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