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JLeslie's avatar

African Americans: Are you glad to be here in America?

Asked by JLeslie (47726 points ) January 16th, 2011

This question is a spin off of a question about reperations.

1. Even with the history of slavery, are you glad in the end you are an American?

2. If people were willing to buy you a ticket back to Africa, and provide some cash for expenses, and the African countries had open arms with offering citizenship, would you want to go and start a new life?

3. Lastly, feel free to answer if you believe there should be reperations, if you had not answered on the recent question previous to this one. And, how it would work. How much? To who? From who? Federal government, local governments?

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61 Answers

BarnacleBill's avatar

A bit of historical background, beginning the 1840’s, there was a law on the books in Kentucky and other slave-holding states that slaves who were emancipated could not remain in the state they lived in. Land was purchased by the American Colonization Society, and the colony of Liberia was founded to return emancipated slaves to Africa. If they refused to go, despite manumission, they ran the risk of being sold back into slavery. The history of Liberia and the United States are closely intertwined.

JLeslie's avatar

@BarnacleBill I was unaware of these laws in the states. Is that part of what brought about the 14th amendment? That Africans born in America are American Citizens?

funkdaddy's avatar

I don’t know who this question is actually directed at…

African Americans living today would not have come over on a slave ship, their parents wouldn’t have come over, their grandparents wouldn’t have come over. It’s something we all learn about in history class or someone might mention their great-great-great-grandfather was on a slave ship.

In the same way, no one living today was actually a slave themselves, their parents were not slaves, perhaps their grandparents.

What every African American does have experience with is the racism and generalizations that are left over from those times. At this point that has very little to do with Africa though. It’s like asking 4th generation Irish immigrants if they’d rather just go back to Ireland.

Judi's avatar

@funkdaddy; My son in law who is part Scottish would live to go back to Scotland.
The question is different however, since his Scottish relatives came here by choice and have an immigrant legacy of choice rather than one of forced labor.

JLeslie's avatar

@funkdaddy Actually, @Judi point is important. Also, think of it like Jews going to Israel, although that is a little different than Blacks going to Africa, or an American of Scotish decent going back to Scotland. Each circumstance is a little different. This question is about decendants of African slaves in America. It seems to me most would be glad at this point to be American, and continue to fight for equality here. But, some African Americans seem very interested in their African roots, and I wondered if they consider wanting to return, wanting to experience the culture. I know very little about African countries, and I would guess in America we hear mostly the worst according to the news, so it is very slanted.

For me, I can see the appeal of Israel, although I feel American through and through, and don’t desire moving to Israel. It is not where my family immigrated from, but it is perceived as a place Jewish people go when unsatisfied with where they live, especially if they want to live with many people they identify with.

bkcunningham's avatar

I believe one of the main confusions in the discussion of slavery in America comes in not knowing or understanding that not all Blacks in Colonial America were “slaves.” Only about one-fifth of the population of African Americans were slaves. A study of the Black Patriots in the American Revolution is a good starting point to understand the history of this period.

mammal's avatar

i have trouble with the use of immigrate, shouldn’t it be emigrate? that aside, this is quite a cute question because it is naively asked, but there is an assumption within it, that America feels at home with it’s whiteness, like Europe or the Slavic states. However, despite mount Rushmore, and every other monument to European physiognomy, American whiteness is adventitious and grounded upon the most tenuous roots, that is something to bear in mind when bringing up the subject of Afro-American roots.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Well, I am ok with the idea of offering the ticket and money, or including the question to, black people who did not have family members who were slaves, all who came to America more than 2 generations ago from the African continent, for purposes of this discussion.

@mammal Can you expand on your point? I am trying to get the African Americans perspective, not the white persons perspective. Not that I mind at all that white people are offering their opinions and some history. I am not making any assumption of how black people will respond. It is not that I feel at home in my whiteness (I realize you did not accuse me of that, but rather you were making a general statement about Americans). Even though I am white, I consider myself a minority, I feel very in touch with the fact that my family just came to America two and three generaions ago. I am married to a Hispanic man. I view America as a melting pot for everyone no matter what race, ethnic background, or religion.

Is it emigrate? I have been meaning to look that up, because I have seen migrate, emigrate, and immigrate used. Thanks for the correction.

anartist's avatar

Africa is a big continent. After generations of intermarriage in this country, not just with members of other “races” but with persons who came from different parts of Africa, genuine roots would be hard to find. Only someone in a situation similar to our president, Barack Obama, would have an easy chance to discover “roots” [as he did by visiting his father’s village]. Ways for black Americans to learn about Africa today would be travel, Peace Corps, various NGO volunteering, business enterprise or study.

[And not all Scots and Irishmen came over freely. Some were sentenced to indentured servitude by the courts or sent as an alternative to the workhouse.

@JLeslie “emigrate” is to leave a country seeking a new home, “immigrate” is to enter a country to start a new life, migrate is just to move—migrant workers are workers who go from place to place.

flutherother's avatar

Why shouldn’t they be glad to be in America? They live here. Just because their ancestors had the profound misfortune to be brought here as slaves does not make them any less American. This is their home and it is very misguided to think that Africa is a viable alternative for them. The cultural differences are enormous.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist @flutherother Again, I am not saying they should feel one way or another. Not sure if you are assuming that I do? For me personally, my personal experience and opinion, I would think they feel very American, I hope they do, but it I would respect the opinion of someone who feels misplaced. This happens to people. My husband came here, because he felt it was a better fit for him than his country he was born in, but it had nothing to do with the roots of his family. Everyone has a different experience.

It would not matter to me if they were only 1/8 descended from African slaves, it has to do with how the individual himself identifies.

Judi's avatar

I think it’s funny (sad?) that we still don’t appear to have a real answer to the question. We’re just a bunch of white people speculating. ( correct me if I’m wrong. )

JLeslie's avatar

@Judi I was thinking the same. Not sure if it is because we don’t have many African Americans on here? And, they just have not stumbled on it. I hope it is not because the question came across as offensive.

takaboom's avatar

okay, I’ve been looking at this all day and this is what I say and then-some:
i’m breaking the questions down bit by bit
1. Are you glad in the end you are an American?
For me, it’s okay. It isn’t something that I’m saying, “omg, I’m an American.” Honestly, for me I don’t care. It is what it is; nothing super special and nothing that I see myself cursed with. This is where I was born, this country is all I know
→ Even with the history of slavery: History is history. I cannot change it but it does make me feel proud that so many people that looked like me stood up for what they believed in and tried to get out of that horrible ‘life.’ Slavery is definitely nothing to look at with pride, but most people do not think that way anymore. I don’t hold a “grudge.”

2. If people were willing to buy you a ticket back to Africa,—
Now I only speak for me, but BACK means that I have been there before. The only things I know about Africa is what I have read and what I have seen on television. Other than that, I know nothing. Put me and plenty of other black people into Africa, and we will be lost; that is not home. That is not what we, as a whole, are used to.
→...and provide some cash for expenses, and the African countries had open arms with offering citizenship, would you want to go and start a new life?
No because I, myself, have no intention of going somewhere don’t want to stay in, let alone know nothing about. Now with that being said, I would love to visit Angola, Ethiopia, Chad, and other countries, just to visit. Go up and stay? I think not, and that is for all countries, because the United States is all I really know. Maybe I would change after going there, but as for right now, no I don’t want to stay there permanently. My US citizenship is enough.

3. Lastly, feel free to answer if you believe there should be reparations, if you had not answered on the recent question previous to this one. And, how it would work. How much? To who? From who? Federal government, local governments?
No I don’t think there should be some sort of reparation (I’m guessing you mean a reimbursement, or pay back.)
When we are born, there is no kind of pay back you are entitled to. You are born debt free, and you reap exactly what you sow. You take the good with the bad and you get on with life. NO one owes ME anything. If anyone is owned something, it is the people that came before me, who worked and slaved and sacrificed and suffered and were dealt so many bad hands just because they were black, they suffered so I didn’t; THEY are owed something if anything is owed. WE, this younger generation, aren’t owed a damn thing. Most of us don’t have to deal with racism and bigotry everyday we walk out the door. We as a whole don’t have that torment and hatred and I thank God that I don’t have to deal with that.
Most people talk about going back to the ‘good ol’ days’ when it was a simpler time. I’m 20 and my parents are in there late 50s. There “good” old days were picking cotton and tobacco among other things, sun up to sun down and looking forward to a good Sunday dinner because everyone ate so skimpy during the week. They weren’t slaves but that’s what they had to do because they were poor and that was what they needed to do to. My mother never talked about good old days because those days were hard working days for her, and my dad. They looked at other people who looked like they had so much more than what they had because they didn’t have to work, and had better opportunity, and “looked” better than what they had. In the end they think they got the better end of the stick because a lot of those people that they thought had better lives are either sick or already dead.

To conclude, No one is owed something, no I don’t want to live in Africa for all the tea in China, and being an American is okay.
Sorry for this long as heck story, but that is what came out of me.

JLeslie's avatar

@takaboom Don’t apologyze for the long story. I appreciate your thoughts. One thing I have found when I speak to black people (do you prefer African American or black?) in the midsouth, where I live now, is they feel jipped out of knowing their heritage, and don’t feel a strong connection or pride in being American. I find it interesting, and wonder if it psycologically holds them back. What I mean is I feel when I talk to them, hear their words, tone, that they don’t feel part of the fabric of America like other people. I don’t find this to be true among my northern black friends. Of course, this is all generalization, and just the people I have had this sort of conversation with, which is not many people.

I find it interesting that you say for you being American is OK. Of course there are plenty of white people born in America who are not thrilled with the country, but I am wondering why it is just ok for you? Is it because of race issues? Or, completely outside of race, and other reasons, like tired of the politics, see the country going in the wrong direction, something else? Or, maybe you just don’t think about it much. Don’t think about being American or not, or our country compared to others. Since you are 20, generally speaking you would be young to be pondering such things I would think.

takaboom's avatar

When I say its ‘okay,’ I mean that in the most bland, basic, generic way possible. I don’t hate it and I don’t love it, it is just some place I was born and where I’m. Honestly I don’t even like using the word “American,” even typing that is odd. I rather just call myself black.
I wouldn’t say I feel jipped (that is just me) but it would be nice to know more of course. I’m from the south and I wouldn’t say most of ‘us’ feel some sort of “American pride.” I know I don’t. Things are just different in the south with some things in life.

I mean ok in terms of all life. As a female in the united states, its okay. As a black person in the united states, its okay. As a southerner, as a young person, as someone who doesn’t associate herself with politics, its okay. Okay in general, nothing curse-worthy nothing special. I think about a lot of things most people my age won’t think about :D as an I’m only child that is pretty quiet and ‘different,’ I kind of stick out in my own odd way.

I would say there is a disconnect from a lot of things. Maybe that why a lot of black people aren’t all I’m so proud, this and that. We don’t feel represented in politics. We don’t feel like we get our fair share a lot of the time in life. We feel misrepresented in media. We see the way people act sometimes, and when I say people I mean everyone that isn’t black, may have the right intentions and may not mean any harm, but we still notice that we may get treated differently. It isn’t anything you think of a lot on a day to day basics, but you notice.

JLeslie's avatar

@takaboom But, such a contrast to so many white southerners who have flags waving. I think being happy to be in America and that anything is possibly because we are Americans gives people a feeling of power over their destiny. That is why I worry that is missing from black people, especially young black people. I grew up with my dad saying America is paradise for the Jews. Mostly referring to the separation of church and state, and that anyone can make it who works hard. That feeling of being greatful for this country, for its ideals and the ideals of its founders, even though we don’t always live up to the ideals as a country, makes me feel free. So, when I hear a black person not feel that it saddens me. I can understand why it is lacking, but I think it would be good for young people to grow up thinking anything is possile, and they have the same fair shake as anyone.

takaboom's avatar

True very true. I see where you are coming from. I think for the most part we do feel that anything is possible, we just may forget about that sometimes and focus on the bad a little too much, or get caught up in stupid crap.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@JLeslie, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments together abolish slavery, define conditions of citizenship and prohibits states from denying the right to vote based on race, color or previous condition of servitude. The 14th amendment establishes the rights of citizenship, due process and equal protection.

The three amendments were key to the redefinition of the United States during the reconstruction period, and shaped the migration from “the United States are” to “the United States is,” a unified country as opposed to a confederation of states’ governments.

anartist's avatar

@takaboom didn’t a long line of black political office holders and a black president change your feeling of being politically represented? I have never tried to look for statistics, but it seems that the percentage of black representation in the house of representatives, in mayoralties, in state politics is probably on par with the population percentage. [Governorships and senatorial seats may not be so evenly dispersed.]

I am not surprised, but definitely interested in @takaboom ‘s statement that a shared pride in being “American” is missing for many black people. And I find it sad, but still somewhat inevitable. It may change later.

But on a pragmatic level, do American blacks ever find it useful to be an American? That it gets you access to more things internationally, confers some sense of protection, or something else?

@takaboom you seem to be the ‘token black’ in a largely ‘white’ discussion. Where is everybody else? Or is this issue of no interest?

flutherother's avatar

@takaboom It is interesting to read your comments. I lived in the Deep South for a while and having come from the UK I was a bit shocked at the racism that still exists down there. We have racists here all right but they are a minority and their views aren’t generally accepted. Anyone in the UK can go anywhere they like but in Alabama black people seem to be corralled into black ghettoes and aren’t expected to mix with the whites. The beaches for example are playgrounds exclusively for the whites and you hardly see a black face there. So I can understand why you say you don’t feel that you are an American. But you are one.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist I can not speak for @takaboom but where I live, out in suburbia in the midsouth, I would not feel represented. The inner city has black elected officials, but not out here. Even I, as a Democrat rarely feel represented. The mayor one town up from me (you may have seen me tell this story before) wrote on his facebook page that we should go back to giving the vote only to landowners. Idiot. And, there were people below the status agreeing with him. Of course, also, there were people who thought what he said was awful. Only a southerner would even think to say something like that. I bet there are a bunch of northerners who don’t even know what that means. Here is the link to the article, with quotes from what the Mayor wrote…prepare to be shocked and disgusted.

I would just hope in the family and community there are enough voices saying, fuck those racist idiots. They are the ones who don’t know history, our consititution, or what America is. That is not America for me. I grew up knowing people out there were antisemitic, but I also had many voices of why America was great, and I grew up in a very very diverse area, so we were all one of the many. We were all different, and all the same.

anartist's avatar

@JLeslie Russell Wiseman sounds like a total asshole. However accidental it may be though, he hit upon a deep division between the north and the south that goes back to the founding fathers.

The south was first settled by rich younger sons of the British aristocracy, who were the plantation owners. They could not inherit the entailed estates back home, but could become wealthy in the colonies. The plantation life could not exist without labor [slavery].

Quite differently, the northern states were founded by the middle class, along with conscientious objectors to religious issues at home. The north has been mercantile, middle class, and not always landowning. Education, rather than birth, was the way ahead in the north. The rum-making businesses of the north purchased the raw product of the southern plantations for their distilleries. That’s why Eleazar Wheelock had good New England rum!

These issues have shaped the beginnings of the two parts of our joined nation, a nation that withstood the test of a civil war. Vestiges of the original situation remain.

For instance, slavery was almost [but not completely] non-existent in the north. The New England states have about the lowest percentage of blacks in their population. Correspondingly, southern states, most notably Alabama and Louisiana, have the highest percentage of blacks in the population. Alabama, Louisiana, and other deep south states were the core of the cotton and sugar cane plantation country in the US. And families, particularly of the poor [black and white] have never left. Old sentiments still smolder.

West of the Mississippi the population evens out more and the history does not go back that far. If I were black, I would not want to live in the deep south.

takaboom's avatar

Please note that I am one person and I should have laid this out this earlier but every time I have we this and we that, I am not talking about me and every single person out there, just as a whole. Every point I made (We don’t feel represented in politics. We don’t feel like we get our fair share a lot of the time in life…) does not mean I necessarily feel like that myself; I am just thinking of every possible factor.

Now as for me and me alone:
I don’t like the government as a whole. Never have and I don’t like discussing politicians or politics, so I will not get into that. I will say this: just because there are more black people in politics doesn’t mean that is enough.
I have never felt singled out because I was black, nor have I ever felt like I was mistreated or didn’t get my fair share. If I had been, I didn’t know. Also note that I am from a place that is predominately black.
Media – pretty much neutral. I think that there is an improvement from past representations. But there are a lot of “us” that are famous and have made it that could represent us better than what they are.
The way some people act – how I explained it the first time is a condensed version of exactly how I feel

As far as felling that being “American” is useful, I don’t know anything other than this country; I have not been outside of here. How can I compare and contrast if I haven’t been anywhere? No I don’t feel that being American is necessarily more useful because I don’t know how it would feel to be in another country anyway.

I don’t really think that there are a lot of black people in this website. It is certainly more than just me, I’ve seen a few but I wouldn’t say it is an overwhelming number. Or maybe the ones that see don’t know what to say. I saw this question about 14 minutes after it was it posted but didn’t respond until nightfall because I didn’t know where to start and wasn’t sure if I should say what I wanted or watch. Maybe a bad time to post? There is definitely interest, just not too sure of an answer or how to.
The south as a whole is not racist; however a lot of us do say racist things. Things are just different here in the south and there are some things I will not understand about some people no matter how hard I try, just as others try but will fail. I do agree that you will find more here though. I guess you could say southerners are more “wrongfully blunt” about some things. You notice things and you say them as you see them, things that are stereotypes but still wrong to say because of course everyone isn’t like that particular category.

I know I am an American. I see that. I get that. I understand that; I just don’t feel this red-blooded American pride thing. I also get very technical[?] with the world “American.” I preferred to be called US citizen or someone who is from the United States of America or something of that nature. That’s just me of course.

I went to a school(s) that was mostly made up of blacks. If I were attempted to put it into percentages, I would say it was 85% black, 12% white, and 3% ‘other’ (Hispanic, Filipino, mixed raced, etc ) When I was in school most black people hung around black and everyone who was white was basically with their own too, or as one of my English teachers called it “clustering.” Even though we mainly did this without racist intentions, it was still done and certainly had racial tension. It didn’t bug me in particular, I talk to whoever the heck I want to, I couldn’t care less about your color but it always annoyed me whenever a select few black people would say, Oh the white folks don’t want to talk to us, and this and that, and noticing every little thing but don’t notice what they were doing. At the same time, I’m like, um you can talk to them if you want to. No one is stopping you, stop complaining. And at the same time I heard some things that white students would say and that equally ticked me off as well. They do this, they do that and don’t like us. Ya both got issues, just shut up if you can’t get along and work it out.

JLeslie's avatar

@anartist I never thought of part of the difference between the north and the south had to do with who originally settled there, meaning which immigrants and the social class they came from. Interesting. There were certainly some very wealthy people in the northeast, but I do feel like immigrants in the last 100 years to maybe 50 years ago, through Ellis Island and other routes into the northeast were mostly poor, and there was a constant influx, and more diversity. We were Italian, and Greek, and Jewish, and Russian, and Puerto Rican, Irish, and more. I have said how odd it is to me living here, that people never talk about their families national background, when I grew up with everyone talking about the food and the holidays, and grandmothers that spoek different languages. But, I digress. And, I do say that the south just grew up differnetly, but never quite new or understood all of the complicated parts.

My parents are 67 years old, and they have never seen a sign that said “white only” or “no colored people.” As you said the northeast had a completely different experience.

Did I mention Oprah today? It was fantastic. Old clips of shows about racism. Incredible.

JLeslie's avatar

@takaboom You sound like a very smart 20 year old. I agree most southerners are not racist. I just think there are more down here than maybe other areas I have lived, and the history is here. Current day it is really more about social class than race in my opinion.

I will tell you this as a white girl who hears what is said behind closed doors. It is not about the color of someones skin. It has a little to do with conforming and atitude. White people think any group of teenage boys, white, black, Hispanic, Chinese, who wear clothing they associate with the hood, are hoodlums. It has nothing to do with race. But, I think if a black man overhears a white person say, “let’s cross the street,” when 5 black kids with pants on the ground and hoodies in 80 degree weather are up ahead…the black kids think it is racism. I am here to tell you I am nervous about any group of boys any race, that seem up to no good on an otherwise empty street.

What you said about being able to walk right up to the white kids, is so on point. And, I will tell you this, as an adult it is more true, what you said is so brilliant. Those other kids stop themselves from breaking the ice and making friends. A Rabbi once told a group of us college kids that Jews realized letting people get to know us, makes it harder for others to think of Jews as different, breaks down the us and them mentality.

If you don’t have barriers in your head and in your actions, there will be fewer barriers. My husband is Mexican, and it never plays into how he thinks about meeting people or is career or anything. I don’t think it occurs to him to think that way. His brother is the opposite, even changed his name to be less Mexican. He thinks everyone is judging him, has prejudices against him. He will sit back and say, “that person never said hello to me,” without taking responsibilty for not having said hello himself.

JLeslie's avatar

@takaboom Oh, and I once asked a question If other people in the Americas resent that we use America as our nickname. My sister-in-law, who is Mexican, was called the American by her husband’s family who were Italians (Italian from Italy, not from Brooklyn). I guess they used it like how we use European. Thought you might be interested since you mentioned being from the United States fits you better.

Dutchess_III's avatar

FYI…You immigrate TO some place. When you get there, you’re an immigrant. You emigrate FROM someplace. My Grandparents emigrated from Holland. They immigrated to ‘Merica. Birds migrate, which is something some animals do every year. But not me, much as I’d like to.

Well, I guess this question could be applied to just about every non-native American here. I don’t know much about Holland, but I don’t think I’d rather live there than here. Or maybe…Ireland. I think I have some Irish blood in me too because I’m not 100% Dutch, but I don’t think I’d rather live in Ireland. But, I don’t really know. This question is really unanswerable.

joni1977's avatar

No, I have not read all the responses, but to put the answer quite simply: I will be proud to be an American when I am finally accepted as an equal American. Hell no, I do not want to go back (to live) to a place I’ve never been. As beautiful as Africa is, America is where I was born & raised and plan to stay. I’d absolutely love to visit and maybe even own a small patch of land, but I am not a fan of the wild life, be it a small deadly bug to a ferocious man-eating lion. I still flinch just at the sight of a gnat from my bananas. I’m not so ignorant as to think that’s all Africa has to offer, but to most, home is not just where the heart is, but it’s where you leave your fingerprints…so to speak. I hope someone understood where I was going with that. And as far as the reparations, the jury is still out on that one…

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thank you Joni! That’s exactly how I feel…I’m of mainly Dutch heritage, and I have no desire to live in Holland!
Rumor has it that some of my great-great-greats may have owned slaves but they didn’t leave me any money to give you. I have no idea who they were, either. I’m sorry!

anartist's avatar

@Dutchess III sorry for the small print above, which is probably why you mised it:
@JLeslie “emigrate” is to leave a country seeking a new home, “immigrate” is to enter a country to start a new life, migrate is just to move—migrant workers are workers who go from place to place.

JLeslie's avatar

I find it interesting people are focused on the part of the question about moving to Africa. I realize now it might have been better if I had left that off, because it is so easy to dismiss. What I think is most important, and kind of supported by the African Americans on the thread, is they don’t really feel pride about America, or being American. It seems focused on where the country falls short, rather than where we are doing well. It just gives me the feeling black children grow up feeling second class, a feeling that they cannot do anything they want. I feel our constitution, and federal government consistently tries to acheive equality in the last 100+ even though they have fallen short or looked the other way at times in history. It is fucked up local communities that allowed separate but unequal live for so long, and continue to demonstrate policies that infringe on civil rights. I personally focus on America, not some idiot mayor in TN. I’ll move to a different state, if it gets bad enough. I have my whole country to choose from.

I remember reading something about people being up in arms that some state, maybe it was Texas? Wanted to take black history out of school. I don’t know if it is really true they wanted to eliminate black history, and I don’t agree with ignoring history, I don’t agree with not teaching it. But, I do wonder if the people who thought of that are observing generations of black people who don’t feel the personal power other Americans do, because they feel the weight of their history, and are psychologically predisposed to spot injustice at very turn.

joni1977's avatar

@JLeslie First, please understand that this in no way turns into a debate. However, unless you’re among the monirity, esp blacks, you have no clue! The last thing a black woman or a black man wants to do is focus on the feeling of being inferior to his or her country or as you say “feeling second class…on where the country falls short…”, etc. But it gets thrown into our faces every single day! Praying I don’t start an all out war Just look at the way the Pres is disrespected over & over again. Whether our opinions of him are good or bad, he’s still our Pres., but the general public is allowed to disrespect, ridicule and mock him. No other President has dealt with such intolerance. And I won’t get started on the constitution & federal gov’t. I’ll just say trying is not doing and in many cases “looking the other way” wasn’t really looking at all! What did you think of the story of the two black women (sisters) who were sentenced to prison for life for robbing a man of $11 and later released due to the sister’s health? Here in TX a black man was released after spending 30 years of his life in prison when DNA evidence finally proved his innocence. He was just one out of the many black men that have been released for crimes they didn’t commit, due to DNA evidence. Yet he holds the record for the longest time spent in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The sad part was most of them were convicted due to mistaken identity. I could go on & on, but I don’t have that kind of time. But I see and live the inequality everyday at work, in dept. stores and when I find myself in certain areas of town well known for racial profiling. And it’s not just because I’m from the south, because the city I live in is very diverse & multi-cultural. All that being said, I still love America and I love being an American, but again, I don’t feel like a proud, equal American when I walk past a causasian family on July 4th waving my American flag and I get a disapproving glare. I’m sorry, but it’s the sad truth.

Judi's avatar

@joni1977;
Thanks for being so honest. These are the conversations we need to have in order to heal.
As a white person who was very young when MLK and JFK were assassinated, growing up in the middle of change, getting mixed signals even from my own family as their opinions were evolving, I still get confused sometimes about what it means to be respectful. I grew up with a lot of “white guilt,” and as a child, learning about civil rights as it was happening, and being faced with unspoken attitudes, even from teachers was really confusing.
When you say, “you just don’t get it,” I believe you. That’s what makes me sad. I want to “get it.” I don’t ever want to contribute to hurt, but I sometimes wonder if my ignorance does just that, and I wonder what I can do to change it.

JLeslie's avatar

@joni1977 I have no argument really. I accept everything you have said. I also always say it is the experience of the minority that matters most. When a Native American tells me using the term Indian giver is offensive to them; I don’t try to argue that they should not be offended, but I might explain I have no ill intent. Many of them will not believe or accept that I am not prejudiced possibly. I think it is important that they realize I have no ill intent, and not think everyone who uses the terms is hateful or prejudiced towards Native Americans. It is an old expression, that has basically lost its connection to Native Americans. Those who use it, don’t even know the real history behind it. So, I submit they might feel anti native Americans things all around them in their local communities, but it might not really be there in sentiment. This is why conversation is important, as @judi mentioned.

I cannot remember if I wrote on this thread that I am Jewish, grew up knowing my people were sent to the ovens, and that anti-semitism is still alive. When the KKK comes to March, I am just as disturbed as you. When I see a Confederate flag, it makes me feel vulnerable too. When I walk into a synagogue, I think, if they want a bunch of Jews here we are all in one place. And, in fact there have been several incidents in the last few years at synogogues. not to leave out the shooter at the DC holocaust museum a few years ago. My first year at Michigan State University there were a few incidences of swastikas being drawn on dorm room doors in the “Jewish” dorm.

I am not trying to compete, I am only saying I think I have a partial clue. What I don’t have is the idea that my family was brought to this country as slaves. But, they came poor, and from horrific circumstance in their former coutries.

If you live in the south, or even near Detroit, and some other cities, I get why you feel it every day, because I feel the race issues here to. If you are poor, I also get why you might feel it more. My experience is color fades as we move up the class structure.

I think what I am trying to say is there are are idiots out there, and it can be scary and unfair. But, Obama was voted in. A bunch of people in the US are not looking at his race. My point is, focus on that, and the other idiots, they are idiots.

mattbrowne's avatar

Last summer I learned that many African Americans do not feel welcome in Arizona and Utah.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@anartist Yeah, I missed it! But glad to to know I was right…
@mattbrowne…NOBODY feels welcome in Utah andArizona!
@joni1977 I agree with everything you say, but that’s how humans are…as with anything, if you aren’t part of that minority you really don’t have a clue. That goes not just for Blacks, but for Asians and American Indians and cancer survivors and parents of missing children. Others really don’t have a clue simply because we can’t understand. Men don’t know what it’s like to have a very valid and intelligent suggestion or a comment dismissed simply because a women said it.

I am also appalled at the way President and Mrs. Obama are reviled, and I honestly believe that most of it is due to the fact that they’re black, although all the Obama haters I know would vehemently deny being so idiotic over something so stupid as that. It’s….frustrating and embarrassing. However, the majority of Americans did vote for him! (And I think we did good!!)

And I also agree that Blacks are treated unfairly in the court system, although I’d like to think it’s getting better.

However, it’s not just the white people who perpetuate the stereo type. I see instances where the race card is being played when race has nothing to do with it. There is a black teenager who went missing. People are comparing her with Natalee Holloway, and saying everyone went looking for Natalee because she was white, and no one is looking for the black teenage because she’s black. But that’s ridiculous. Teens and others go missing all of the time, and we rarely hear anything about them. The only reason Natalee was in the forefront of America is because her parents are very wealthy and had the money to put her in the forefront. It would have been the same thing if she’d been black and her parents had the money to buy who and whatever was necessary (...what are your thoughts on that, Joni?)

It frustrates me when the race card is played for no reason, or a person sees some small insult (like being given incorrect change, or their food order being wrong) as being racially motivated when it wasn’t…..it is detrimental in the end. It’s a set back, IMO.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III The people I know who say ridiculous bullshit about Obama like he is Muslim, and I truly believe that is not code for black, really believe he is Muslim and fear it. The person who starts the rumours might be racist, but it takes on a life of its own, and then I think people who are not racist jump on the hate wagon. There are plenty of people out there who hate taxes, and the idea of social systems, to get them to tag along, even if they are not racist. These same people talk about Clinton, and Gore, and Carter, just as viciously. I don’t care at all about the birthers, because most of them yell out Obama is not an American citizen, and those idiots don’t even seem to know that what they are questioning is his qulaification to be President, not an American citizen. His mother is American, he could have been born in Communist Russia, then moved to China for a few years, and he is still an American.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, except for the fact that Kansas is not a part of America. From what I hear. From what my internet friends tell me, anyway….

I know what you’re saying…..it’s so stupid. I still think much of it is rooted in the fact that he’s black. And you know, even if he WAS a Muslim (which he’s not—he’s a Wikken!)...so what??!!

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Oh, I agree…so what?! But, many of the haters are bible belters, Christian types. Some of them have grown past the race issues, but have to hate for some reason or another. Makes them feel better about themsleves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That’s part of it too…they’ll deny that their venom is fueled by racism….they’ll blame it on something else because it’s not “Christian” anymore to be racist (used to be if you weren’t racist you weren’t a good Christian.) Well, that makes them liars as well as racists. A lot of Christians just piss me off so bad. They are SUCH hypocrites….

joni1977's avatar

@Dutchess_III Although I witness prejudices every single day, I do try my best not to instantly play the race card. As messed up as things are in this world, chalking it all up to racism has become an easy scapegoat. And I agree with you. I hate nothing more than to see some lazy ass black man (because they’re usually the repeat offenders) sitting at home on his grandmothers couch, scratching his ass, yelling ‘the white man is holding me back’. That really pisses me off. That’s why I said I still love being an American, because no one can deny that regardless of race, this truly is the land of opportunity. And as a minority, I can testify that with proper education, even a child from the poorest family can succeed. It just all depends on how that minority child handles the adversity that’s sure to be present. Which is why I try each and everyday to chisel the importance of an education into my son’s skull. Because I’ll be damned if he grows to become that sorry ass bum on my mom’s couch hating everything but what he’s become.

mattbrowne's avatar

@Dutchess_III – Well, European tourists seem to be welcome. Our travel experience last summer in these two states were very positive.

JLeslie's avatar

@joni1977 Thanks for your answers.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well said, @joni1977! (Yeah….white men never sit around scratching their ass—They sit around scratch their scrotums and practice burping the Star Spangled Banner!)

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Fact from fiction, truth from diction. I am very thankful I was born in America and an American citizen. I may not like the way the government operates or runs the place but overall the most important part, capitalism, they can’t muck up so great as to make it not work.

I would not accept a ticket to Africa anymore than I would to England, China, Tahiti or anywhere else. I do not know the language or I don’t know the customs. I was born here. At least here I know what cow patties to step around and there are many. I would not accept citizenship to ANY other nation, only because I was born here and here is all I know, plus the capitalism is a big draw.

Do I think this government owes money for its crimes? Jury is still out on that. If they can pay the Japanese for locking them up during WWII and give Native American the right to have casinos which I support so they can even things up fleecing the pockets of greedy Americans I think they do owe African Americans. It may not be like the Jewish Holocaust but it was one hellafa cost. To have your whole history, culture stripped away from you as well as being pried from your family for money, then worked like a rented mule 6 days out of 7 no matter how sick. And if you were an attractive female I am sure the hell was worse when massa could not get none from his wife nothing to stop him from tip toeing down to the slaves quarters. They won’t tell less they get beaten, sold or worse. And when his son wants to sow his wild oats he wasn’t going to choose not upstanding Southern belle and a virgin to boot, he would fallow in the steps of his father. At the very lease I believe the US should have a national day of apology to publically acknowledge its crime. I don’t expect banks to close and mail not be delivered but a day that says ”we know we did wrong and we are sorry”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I understand all that you’re saying, but the message that slavery was/is wrong is sent out every day. What, exactly would be the point, really, of setting aside a whole day to think about it exclusively? I would think that would serve to just piss some people off.

JLeslie's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I agree with all you said about women being raped and general abuse of men and women who were enslaved. But, about the loss of their culture, pretty much all people who came to the United States became “Americanized” or assimilated. Even when parents were not happy about there children typically let go of some traditions of the old country. Some people encouraged their children to fit in as much as possible and purposefully did not use their primary languages with their children once here. I realize there is a difference between having a choice and being stripped of these things so to speak, but over time it happens anyway. I only bring it up, because I don’t think it should feel like such a big loss. The vast majority of the Polish, Hungarian, people who fled the Russian Empire, Italians, etc., who came over 100+ years ago; their descendents in America don’t speak the languages, and have not kept up with most of the traditions, except for a few big ones here and there by some that are many time Americanized anyway. Like a certain food on a holiday for instance.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The Irish fled their country in 1845 because of a government who just about tried to kill them off. The potato famine was only part of i. The government’s response, or lack of response, was even more telling. Should the Irish government stand up and say, “We were wrong!” I don’t think so simply because…I don’t think any of us have any idea if our relatives were among those who were persecuted! If African Americans didn’t have dark skin and can therefore assume their ancestors were slaves, they wouldn’t know if they, personally, were descended from a slave. My family records certainly don’t go back that far.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Well, some can be sure. They know they had great gandparents born into slavery for instance, or their family name was the name of the plantation owners, etc. A close girlfriend of mine knows she is the great granddaughter of a slave women and white master. She is actually the darkest in her family, her siblings were very light skinned, and she had an uncle who lived as a white doctor. Just how the genes worked out with all the mix.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie some sure! There are some folks who can trace their ancestor back to the Mayflower! I, however, can only trace my ancestry back to Texas in the 50’s! But most have no idea, really, where their folks came from, unless it was really recent.

joni1977's avatar

Not only that, but slave records were not kept, unless done so by the slave master and most of the time the only recordings were date purchased, date sold and/or time of death. We should also remember some native americans were slaves, resulting in some serious interracial populations. Just as JLeslie said, I couldn’t trace my family past my great grandparents either. But my naturally curly/wavy hair and the pointiness of my nose with a sharp curve upward at my nostrils, is a clear indication that I am not completely of African descent. But who’s blood is pure these days?? I saw a show a few years ago that traced the most racist white families ancestry and they discovered they had black or African great great grandmothers and grandfathers. Shocked the living sh*t outta them and of course they became angry and denied it all…said the historians didin’t know what they were doing…I thought it was hilarious! We totally digress…

bkcunningham's avatar

@joni1977 not all blacks were slaves. Not all slaves were black. Even the slaves, Free Negroes, indentured servants and Free Colored people kept records of births and deaths and had cemeteries. Have you ever listened to or read Born in Slavery: The Slave Narratives? It is actual recordings and transcripts of slaves being interviewed. It is a Federal Writer’s Project and contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black and white photographs of former slaves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@bkcunningham Right on! That answers that!

@joni1977 That IS hilarious!! I was at a family reunion in Texas once, looking at pictures of people who are no longer with us. One gal, some great great Aunt or something, looked so dark, and her hair…well, I wondered, out loud, “Was Aunt So and So black?” Uh….break out the ice pick. You could hear a pin drop. I felt like screaming “WHO THE HELL CARES??? WHAT DOES IT MATTER??” Pffffffft.

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III Some people just get weird when something contrdicts how they identify themselves, even when they aren’t racist. A woman I worked with is Catholic, very Catholic. She married her first husband becuase they wanted to have sex, so she wound up married at 19. She was divorced within two years. Needless to say as she got older she questioned some of the beliefs and expectations of the church, but still had a very strong Catholic identity. When I knew her, she was awork colleague, she was in her late 20’s early 30’s. During that time she found out a relative on one side, cannot remember which side was Jewish. She was shaken. I don’t think she had an antisemitic bone in her body, but still shaken. She said she had just always thought her entire family was Catholic. A few years later she married someone Jewish. Kind of interesing when you know ghe whole story.

Recently someone wrote on Fluther that they had read most Jewish people are only 70% Jewish, that kind of surprised me. I always think my entire family is Jewish. Not that it matters.

joni1977's avatar

@bkcunningham Thanx for the insight. Sounds very interesting. I was not fully aware and will definitely look into it.

takaboom's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve been thinking of something you said in one of your posts “I find it interesting people are focused on the part of the question about moving to Africa.”
What I think is I and others may look at as you kind of partial answering your question without even realizing it. Your question seems sincere but then putting something like “back to Africa” makes it look like we aren’t suppose to be here and maybe we would be better off in somewhere else, where we came from just a thought

JLeslie's avatar

@takaboom I guess I just worded it poorly. If you spent time around fluther you would know I ammall for the melting pot of America, very pro-immigration. My husband immigrated here, my paternal grandparents, many of my friends. I don’t see any group, nationality, or ethnicity in America different from another in terms of their right to be an American and live here. The only exception is the Native Americans who obviously did not emigrate here, and deserve every acknowledgment of being on this land before us. I realize black Africans were brought here, not necessarilly emigrated here willfully, they certainly deserve to be here, I don’t have an ounce of me that feels they should be somewhere else. It was just a question, a curiosity. I know several black people who seem very interested in their ancestors and what part of Africa their families might be from.

Dutchess_III's avatar

If my ancestors were from Africa I’d like to find out more about them. But they aren’t. They’re from Holland so I keep trying to find out more about them!

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