Many centuries ago whenever two alien nations were confronted with the benefit, or necessity, of nurturing a binding alliance between their two people, one way to consummate such solidarity was to intermarry. To ensure the significance of the marriage the couple would consist of persons of stature within the two nations. This meant a prince (or equivalent) of one people would wed a princess of the other. (Politics of the time dictated that the prince came from the “apparent dominant” culture.)
Eventually the couple would give birth to a child; the personification of the merged nations. And this child, through the teachings of its parents and mutual elders, would mature in the intricacies of both cultures, while mastering both tongues. Thus this child will not only become the first translator of the two languages, but the major plank in the bridge between the two nations.
In a similar way, such are my African-American children.
I say “my African-American children” in a prideful way. And I mean “my African-American children” in a literal way. See, I am a human being by race, an African [heritage person] by ethnicity, and an American by nationality. I am each of these, and all of these things; without apology. I am American without hyphen.
I am not an African-American anymore than white people are European-Americans; as it relates to nationality. America is my home, my country. But my daughters; my beautiful children who are also American by nationality have the privilege of being the product of two nations. They are the merging of two bloods. Planks in the bridge between two nations.
The term African-American has (without malice) been a misnomer for my race and nationality (again, I am human racially and American nationally). However, I now know it is most fitting as an ethnic designation for my daughters than what I am. So when I challenge the term it is not for controversy sake. Nor is it because I am ashamed to be recognized as an (ethnic) African. Far from it!
Lord knows the enemies of African people have tried to beat every ounce of African pride out of me; from within and without the black community. But despite generations of ego lynching and character assassinations, a sliver of this pride has survived; and has in recent years flourished to produce not-so-strange fruit with clenched fists held high. Still I reserve the designation of African-American primarily for children like mine, born of both continental African and black American lineage. It is they who have earned the hyphen because it is they who are the planks in the bridge between our two nations.
With the changes already witnessed in the world since 2008, e.g. the sociopolitical impact of President Obama, use of DNA to determine tribal lineage, and increased engagement between Africans and African-Americans, my daughters will grow to have all the strengths of both groups with almost none of our weaknesses—kind of like the Marvel Comics© character Blade™: By weaknesses I’m referring to the insecurities and side effects of navigating through an ethnic-centric world with knowledge of one’s ethnicity. My daughters are able to point at a specific country in Africa and proclaim, “my people are from here!”
Due to these changes, my daughters will be far less Negro than I and far more Geo-African than their Liberian mother. With the right nurturing my daughters and children like them will have that much more incentive to reach out to African immigrants, be far less inclined to stumble over the history of American slavery, and give birth to children who will be far more indignant when speaking up and out against those who would antagonize their African immigrant playmates.
And they will continue to grow…
Some of them will become the greatest ambassadors in our sibling rivalry here in America. Others may even relocate “back home” to change the face of African politics on the continent; as reformed government officials and grassroots social activists. Their American upbringing has laid the foundation for such a future.