Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Redefining the definition of black

The word black used to describe a culture and history of a complex group of people is inadequate when defining human identity. 

Words fail. The word black used to describe a culture and history of a complex group of people has failed. It is detrimental to rely on words with negative associations such as the color black to express human identities. Black is far more complicated than a simple definition. The Black population of the United States is diverse. A little more than 47 million people self-identified as Black accounting for 14% of all people living in the United States. 

In North America, there are 47 million African Americans, 2.1 million people from Africa and 4.4 million from the Caribbean. Jamaica and Haiti are the two largest origin countries, accounting for 16% and 15% of Blacks all of whom are lumped under the label black but have a unique history and culture. The word black puts people in the same group or category indiscriminately. 

Black immigration to North America would be expanded by adjusting the refugee ceiling with the Refugee Assistance Act of 1962, the Refugee Act of 1980 and the Immigration Act of 1990 which created the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

According to Pew research, 10% of the Black population was foreign born as of 2019. Texas is home to the largest Black population, at about 3.9 million. Florida comes in a close second with 3.8 million, and Georgia comes in third, with 3.6 million. 

The most populous metropolitan area of residence for all Black people in 2019 is New York City, with 3.8 million. In second is Atlanta, with 2.2 million, and then the Washington, D.C. area, with 1.7 million Black residents.

Defining black

Black is a color which symbolically and figuratively represents darkness; the absence of light. The color black symbolizes suffering and death; used to represent mourning. The color black also represents fear, death, and evil, none of which describes the African Diaspora. Black is far more complicated than a simple definition.

Today, one in ten Black people are foreign born. Before and after the Civil War, leaders of color debated what name to call themselves as a race of people. The term African was debated however many felt no kinship to Africa as Africa was the only homeland they ever knew. 

Many wanted to adopt the term Colored, for example the NAACP founded in 1909 is America's oldest civil rights organization and has kept the word colored in its name. In 1988, Reverend Jesse Jackson lead the way for the renaming of America's black population to adopt the term African-American.


Using the term Diasporan instead of black.

What is a Diasporan? In the early part of April 2005, the African Union Commission defined the African Diaspora as - Peoples of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent.

Diasporans are not limited by time or history. Globally, Africans in the diaspora are spread out across the continents. The three D’s about Africa, death, despair and disease still prevail in the minds of many people in the world, the definition of Diasporans, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of Africa.

Foreign born Blacks, particularly those from  South America, Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and African nations are a growing share of North America's Black population however, oral and written record of the African Diaspora possess of the strength of the principles of freedom, and the indestructibility of coast-to-coast kinship. 

The bones of  Diasporans who labored and loved, and of those who died for freedom, rest in unmarked graves around us; and we have still among us the inheritors of their blood, their name, and their spirit. 

The word Black is inadequately used to describe a culture and history of a complex group of people since today, one in ten Black people are foreign born. Using the term Diasporan instead of Black embraces culture, history, citizenship and nationality not solely a color.


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