Pan-Africanism : Are You African or African American?

Are You "African" or "African American?"

  • I am African.

    Votes: 83 46.4%
  • I am African American.

    Votes: 52 29.1%
  • none of the above

    Votes: 44 24.6%

  • Total voters

Jan 22, 2001
betwixt and between
Website Consultant
Hello Family,

Last night in the Pan-Africanism voice chat discussion, it was suggested that one of the most empowering things we could do individually, and easily, to help push the struggle of unifying us around the world ... is to say we are African ... instead of African American, or American, or Colored, or Negro, or Black, or any other number of things we've probably referred to ourselves as.

It was mentioned that all other people connect themselves to a land, except us. Ask a Chinese person, "What are you?" and they will say, "Chinese." Ask an Italian, "What are you?" and they will say, "Italian." Ask a Japanese, "What are you?" and they will say, "Japanese." Ask an African American, "What are you?" and many of us will respond with "Black," or "African American" or "i'm Black, but i've got some Indian in me" but rarely does our response fully and completely embrace Africa, by saying, "I am African."

I'm guilty of this. Until recently, i would have said, "African American" or "Black." I've been becoming more aware of a lot of things as a result of this community and all the many Sisters and Brothers that share with me. But what was really the clincher, was the opportunity i had recently of chatting with a gentleman from China in voice chat. He spoke a little English, making it possible for us to discuss a few things. I asked him did he know that he was in an "African American" chat room. He said no, he had been surfing, searching and just stumbled on us. He then asked me if i was a Negro. I said, "No, i'm African, i'm Black." (I was trying to embrace Africa, but notice i still had to throw that color thing in there, Black). When i said that i was Black, he responded by typing into the room ... "i'm a yellow-skinned-man ... lol" ... gosh ... it was very eye opening. I really don't think he meant it to be offensive, and of course i didn't take it that way ... but he was laughing at me ... laughing at the idea that a people would refer to themselves as a color.

Anyway, let someone ask me "What are you?" in reference to my culture, and i will say that i am African.

I had to grow into this and i would imagine that many of my Sisters and Brothers here in the U.S., must also go through some process to take off the old and put on new.

So, my question is ... how difficult would it be for you to refer to yourself as simply, "African," vs. "African American?" Would you be willing to do this? Do you see how it could help unify Africans all over the world, if we made this small little change in our lives?

Looking forward to any discussion this may stimulate.




Apr 22, 2003
To speak honestly. I dont know how easy this will come for me because if I went to Africa how will my people address me?
Will they accept me as African or will they say I'm American. Will the fine line be drawn there too? Don't get me wrong, Yes, I consider myself of African decent but will my people embrace me Or will they cast me as different too? It's just a question that I pose.


Well-Known Member
May 3, 2002
In Answer To Destee's Question

You can all me negro, black, or african-american; but I am not African, or a Person of Color.

No, I do not think that "calling" myself an African will help or make it possible for Black people around the world Unite. We seemingly love to romanicize Africa and Africans, as some glorious and righteous entity that can somehow transform us to the place where we should be; a place that we "actually could be" if we did the things that we should be doing to be just that. Our window of opportunity is small but open, and sometimes I feel as if, God, must be scratching his head wondering when and if we will ever get it!

I think that to do so would betray my foremothers and forefathers who suffered the reality of being sold--self, life, and limb, for trinkets, sugar, and gun "powder," to finish killing off themselves (kinda prophetic in a perverse kind of way; a blood legacy seemingly passed down all the shores the tears of OUR PARENTS graced with
their stripped humaness, into nothingness.) It would betray their strength and conviction to survive, to love and to live.

To call myself an African, would make me, an abused child, identify with my abuser; surely, you can liken that to those of us today, still reaching for labels to say who we are, what we are about... identifying with those who still wretchedly try to destroy us... it is a legacy that throughout history has provided us nothing but a self-imposed treachery that still serves to kill ourselves... we are easy. We, the black natives of this land give ourselves to all; including other "Blacks" who happily and willingly join hand in hand with our oppressors; yet, we are the ones that everyone comes to for help, for sustenance to get them through the treacherous waters of life, then after use, we are ridiculed and spit out... Our foreparents and God himself must be crying for us.

What I spew is only my feelings; I have no hatreds because I cannot hold it. I think that if some of you have found some empowerment in calling yourself African or anything else you may want to call yourself; God bless you, be happy. It is just that to keep going into a circle of trying to define self; without ever knowing self will always relegate us to the low rung of life. Maybe, I have become selfish, and if I am, I will accept that, and try to correct it; but What have they EVER DONE FOR ME, FOR YOU, FOR US? What except find satisfaction in joining hand in hand with those in helping to keep hurting us... a thousand year trial that has up until now not penetrated our armour... for now, our treachery is so evident that we have sold our very souls to one defined ideology or another, and allow ourselves to be used as todies and jiggaboos; spitting out limp-wristed emotionalism....

Trinkets, sugar and gun-powder; the Bling-Bling of yesteryear that enslaved my people... that still does ( aren't labels bling-bling?)


Well-Known Member
May 4, 2003
Originally posted by happy69

To call myself an African, would make me, an abused child, identify with my abuser; surely, you can liken that to those of us today, still reaching for labels to say who we are, what we are about... identifying with those who still wretchedly try to destroy us... it is a legacy that throughout history has provided us nothing but a self-imposed treachery that still serves to kill ourselves... we are easy. [/B]
happy69, I don't understand your logic. Can you please clarify.....


going above and beyond
Feb 9, 2001
"Just remember that you don't have to be what they want you to be." - Muhammad Ali

"There has never been another you. With no effort on your part you were born to be something very special and set apart. What you are going to do in appreciation of that gift is a decision only you can make." - Dan Zadra

There's no right or wrong in how a person perceives their self. It may seem trivial to some as to how some of us view the world and ourselves in it, but our consciousness has to start somewhere and in some, it matters a lot that we connect to a place of origin that conjures up more memories of who we are than memories of pain. Romantic notions? To some degree probably, but I don't think romantic at the risk of being ignorant of the politics involved in our slave experience. No, in fact, it might be the opposite.

What have THEY ever done for me and us? Well, I guess that would depend on how a person thinks who THEY are. What are WE doing for us? No group is perfect and neither are Africans. To be blind to this fact is to be ignorant at its most basic level.

What I see when I think of Africa and the more I learn about her is a NATION built with strong, proud, and intelligent who historically have come through a lot. I see a nation of greatness and extreme potential.

Thinking of the greatness of Africa and it's potential helps me to clear my head and let go of racist programming that I've been exposed to ALL my life and a victim of here in America. This is all that I know, unless I make a concerted effort to find out the truth. I wear the badge for me and for my ancestors who couldn't claim it because they would be beaten, raped and killed if they did.

If my ancestors were alive today, I wonder what their thoughts would be and how they would want to answer this question. Deep inside I'd like to think I already know the answer.

happy, to answer your question sis...I don't see labels as "bling-bling." It may not make sense but in our world today, people tend to identify with groups by labels. I see this as another example practiced by us and others around the world.

Just my opinion.



Well-Known Member
May 3, 2002
to me it is simple. To call myself an African is to betray my foremother and forefather. As an empathetic people, sure, they would have forgiven the treachery... I do believe that; but I also feel that they would have been hurt the rest of their very lives for the treachery of their own basically giving them away to suffer; for SUGAR,AND TRINKETS... it is logical to me, and that is all that matters.

that is your right. I have no qualms with your rationale. But, just like we have both espoused in the past that we need to rethink who we fight for , and what we fight for, and let no fight get in the way of our progress... I feel the same about "Other" Blacks. Not that they shouldn't fight for the things that they want and are right and just--- do that, it may work! I think that we need to take a break... We are the ones who lobbied for them to even be here; we still lobby--- and I feel that the dissipating level of that lobbying is due in part to US waking up to the fact that sometimes Black ain't Black--- and that is okay, but we have to think about it... Hell, we even lobby for Hispanics!

The absolute last time I raised my voice against anything was the Anti-Apartheid movement; it was wrong, it was unjust... I still have my pins, and "act-so" letters, etc... until I began to think; how could it happen, how could a people in a place where they outnumber those in charge by 1000 to 1 be enslaved? I think that our reticence to join with anybody is a light into the fact that we are wakening up to some very real facts; we are willing to help anybody and we do; nobody helps us... not other blacks, not anyone.... it is just the truth... you tell me of anytime when others did (and I am not talking Marcus Garvey, different time, differing people); and I will give you times when we have helped them..... and all the lies/liars that they ally themselves with... against us.

Your question should be Why Are We Not Doing It Just For Us?
Happily, I would say, that we are beginning- and that is good--start.

When I think of Africa... I think of the cradle of civilization, that gave birth to a great people... who were light years ahead of the rest of the world... who cursed itself and it's people by being blinded by "Bling-Bling;" And I am not just talking about their children they sold to Whites---and burdened them with unflinching hatred that still swirls around us each and everyday... they have put that caste upon their own children with unbidding greed, and hatred...

Just because the way we all are may be comparable, does that mean that it is right. I was trying to paint the picture that our seeming affiliation for Bling-Bling may be hereditary?

Consciousness Raising Online!

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