By Vania Andre
Within the Black community, it’s common to hear discussions that evoke an “us” versus “them” sentiment while discussing the dynamics of the African Diaspora. Identity politics come into play as labels and categories get thrown around, causing, at times, tense exchanges which leave all parties involved feeling isolated and frustrated.
As a Black American of Haitian descent, I often find myself knee-deep in conversations with either non-immigrant Black or White Americans explaining the difference between my race, ethnicity, and nationality. I usually find myself at a loss for words toward the end of this explanation as it starts to dawn on me that just perhaps, especially as a member of an already marginalized community, that differentiating between all three categories has no bearing on my place in this country as a woman and child of Black immigrants.
In the Haitian community, and I suspect in other Caribbean and African ones as well, we place a great deal of importance on differentiating ourselves from other Black groups in America. It’s not an effort by any means that I believe is rooted in arrogance or a need to self isolate, but more so as a manifestation of the psychological and emotional trauma the community has undergone—both in Haiti and in the United States. To be a marginalized group within a marginalized group has lasting effects with the power to stretch from generation to generation. However, despite this, we and other Black and Brown immigrant communities must acknowledge and celebrate the sacrifices and struggles our Black American brothers and sisters made decades before our emergence on U.S. soil.We must work together to resist Number 45.
Although I personally don’t celebrate Black History Month black history is American history, period—I imagine this is the best time to launch a call to action for all members of the African Diaspora. Regardless of our ethnicity or nationality, we must join together and work against a regime that is pushing a resurgence of attacks on all communities of color. We do not have the luxury to watch passively as our worth and contributions as humans are questioned, our families are torn apart, and what little power we’ve gained is looked to be ripped from our hands through political maneuvering and back channeling.
The numbers are on our side.It’s time we exercise our right to be heard at the polls come midterm elections.