Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Not Sure What to Call Myself........

Me and Tatiana after dress rehearsal
for her recital..night #1
Daddy and Daughter after a long night of
dancing at her recital....night #2 of 3
Recently a comment was made on a previous post by a student who found my blog while doing research at her campus library for a class project. She said she wasn't sure what to call herself..."black" or "African American." This is one thing that my husband has always been very clear about. He said he was not born in Africa, he was born in Indiana, so he does not want to be referred to as African American, he wants to be called black. Now I know this is controversial among some, and that some are adamant about being called African American, but he says, "I have never been to Africa, I was born in America, I am American, period." I guess that would be similar to me saying I'm Russian American or Swedish American, (I'm half of each by the way) that just sounds funny and long winded if you ask me. Don't get me wrong I'm proud of my heritage, especially since I'm adopted and it's one of the few things I know about my background, but I just don't refer to myself as either unless specifically asked. What does one call themselves when they are a mix like our daughter? She would have to say I am Russian, Swedish, African, Creole, Indian, Caucasian, Black, American! Now that's a mouth full! It's funny because when I refer to my husband, if race does comes up, I always say he is black because that's what he prefers to be called. However, I do get the irritated look, or on some occasions, "correction" by black people who let me know I "should" be saying African American. If my husband, who IS African American does not want to be called that, is it okay for me to refer to others as black, or do I have to call them African American? To me it's just one more thing that separates us from each other by worrying so much about the distinction. So, when you are not sure what to call yourself, be proud of your heritage, and respectful of others, but call yourself whatever makes YOU feel most comfortable, just like my husband does. Me, I am a white woman, married to a black man, with a black and white daughter. But really, I am just a woman, married to the man I love, with a beautiful daughter!


"J" said...

Funny , this " Politically Correct African-American" thing and the reality of Your husband calling himself "American", with good reasoning behind it!
My mixed BFF always refers to herself as "Dutch" while she refers to her mom as "Rhodesian" because her mom is ,indeed, born in Africa/Zimbabwe.
The nicest bit of all of it? My BFF has always been more connected with her "white side" and mostly been seen as pure Dutch(except by some really bigoted people, but they rear their ugly heads everywhere..)although she wears her frizz "natural". While her sis connects more with her african ancestry, yet stretches her hair to smithereens. Both self-images are completely accepted. (though, again, we do not have any foms or official documents that require You to fill in race/fenotype, so the race-question is moot anyways ,at least officially) They are both considered "Dutch" .Race does not come up in the equasion. Place of birth and religion are considered more important overhere.

read ya,


Amy said...

Hey J!

Interesting that place of birth and religion are the questions in the Netherlands. Here you are not even allowed to ask religion. Place of birth yes, religion no. It is that whole seperation of church and state in the U.S. I love that your BFF and her Sis connect with different sides of their heritage! That is what I am talking about when I say do what makes YOU feel comfortable. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks it matters what makes YOU (them) happy! I think my daughter connects more with her black side because people just assume up front that is what she is. Remember my post about me having to "prove" I am her Mom? "The Big Surprise!" Again it is whatever makes her feel the most comfortable. It's funny though because everyone says we act and sound exactly alike! Looks she has Daddy and personality she has me....the best of both!!! =) Thanks again for reading!


Kim said...

I remember having some friends over a few years back, and raising the question African American or Black? I recall Jamie's response was, "I would like you to call me Jamie". That summed it up for me. After we all stopped laughing, and I took my foot out of my mouth I wanted to thank Jamie for putting it back in perspective. Who do I love? Jamie, Amy and Tatiana. What do I call them? My good friends. Love you all, Kim

Amy said...

Kim!!! Hello my dear dear friend! I forgot all about that conversation! I love that one! "Call me Jamie!" Leave it to him huh!?! Perfect answer. I love you guys right back and am blessed to call you my friend!


fb said...

My daughter (5) always ask why do they say black? daddy is brown!
She's right and identity is multiple, we have layers of it.
I have no problem with either term, but I don't like the reductive idea to be define primarily by your color.
Even if, in reality, it has a huge impact in how we are perceive.

Amy said...


My husband's response pretty much sums it all up. =) Just call me Jamie. Thank you so much for your comments.