It seems to me that some people have an issue with Jamaicans, and probably most other stereotypically Afro-Caribbeans, who do not regard themselves as black and are hesitant if not upset that they are most times required to fill out the “Black/African American” slot on Government forms and questionnaires.
On behalf of Jamaicans, I will be happy to clarify what we mean by this; I would also like to mention that this problem only occurs by United States standards – the most backward nation by far in my opinion.
From observation, I realise that skin colour matters the most in America. Those little “ethnicity” surveys are not really about where you are from, they are about your skin tone. (They only put ethnicity because putting “race” or “colour” would be far too controversial.)
I disagree with everyone who would look at dark skinned Americans and seriously call them black – or worse African-American. African? Really? How many “African Americans” do you know who have actually been to Africa? Or know for a fact which part of Africa their ancestors came from? I am going to jump out here and say that probably 97% of the people that this nation regards to as “African Americans” have absolutely no link to the culture, language, or anything else besides skin tone and features of Africa.
But if the U.S can look at them and call them Africans, then why can’t the U.S look at white Americans and call them Europeans?
Black is not a race. It is not an ethnicity. It is not a nationality. Black is not even a colour — and neither is white. This is why Jamaicans who have migrated have a problem with being “black.”
(By the way, everyone who is not an American Indian is a migrant. That includes the majority of the population of the US.)
No one is denouncing the African influence of our Caribbean culture. In fact, majority of the population is African; but for those of you who have never been, not all Jamaicans have African in them — the same goes for other Caribbean countries. We believe, as do other countries in the world, that nationality is most important — not skin colour — and we were never trained to look at people and determine what they are, or who they are, because our motto is “Out of many, one people” — and we are just all Jamaican.
If you ask me what I am, being Jamaican should be good enough. The fact that I am 1/5th African should not just automatically outweigh the 4 other cultures that created me. And even then, the only culture I am tied to is the Jamaican culture — which happens to influenced by Hispanic, Indian, Chinese, European, and African peoples.
Africa has “white” looking people too, you know. Does it make them any less of an African? No it does not: because for generations and generations they have been living in Africa and the African way of life is the only one they know.