America: The Myth, The Legend, The Blacks

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, May 12, 2009 21:16 EDT
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Walter Williams writes a lazy variation on the lazy argument you’ve heard at some point in the past: if we call blacks African-Americans, then what do we call white Africans who come to America? Or Arab Africans? And if we call them by their country of origin, why don’t we call Barack Obama a Kenyan-American?

(The correct(ish) answers: [Country]-American, most likely Arab-American, and Obama grew up black in America, which, in our nation’s construction of race, makes him more African-American than anything else.)

But, alas, Walter Williams is a Black Republican (do we call him something else these days?), and to be one of those, you have to pretend as if American race relations started when Al Sharpton discovered the power of relaxer.

Are black Americans a minority group? When one uses the term minority, there is an inference that somewhere out there is a majority, but in the U.S. we are a nation of minorities.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2000 census, where people self-identify, the ancestry of our largest ethnic groups is people of German ancestry (15.2%), followed by Irish (10.8%), African (8.8%), and English (8.7%) ancestry. Of the 92 ethnic groups listed in the census, 75 of them are less than 1% of our population.

Because when you walk around in 2009 America, and a racial classification is made of someone of Caucasian origin, their particular country of origin is oh wait the fuck a minute, it’s not! We’re not a nation of minorities in any appreciable way yet, as there’s an undeniable white identity in America that lumps together virtually everyone with a certain skin type and automatically confers upon them a set of benefits that goes often undescribed, yet well known by anyone who cares to pay attention. “African-American” may not be the most technically accurate nomenclature, but it quite clearly delineates a certain set of people with a certain set of experiences in America; to pretend otherwise is to be deliberately obtuse in a way that itself borders on racism.

Of course, we must keep in mind that I’m being the real racist by bringing up race and insinuating there are still disparities based on that effluvial quality, and you’re basically participating in a Klan rally by commenting on this post, you magnificently sexy bigots, you.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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