Why it matters

Black in the African Diaspora – Is that redundant?

It may seem like this title is a redundancy, but I want to signify the volatile nature of the term ‘black,’ which has many meanings and is situational. Mostly, I think about how the term ‘black’ signifies, in the United States, anyone with any African ancestor. But that’s not its only meaning. I might mean ‘black’ as in the name of an ethnic group ie “I am black,” or “I am “Black American” and not, for example, an African or Caribbean immigrant. But then, globally, there is the concept of ‘black people’ bringing us back again to the global signifier of African descent.

African American

This is another term whose meaning expands and retracts. Right now, African Americans might be any ‘black’ people who are American citizens. It might be a term for ‘Black Americans’ (as above), who I think of as part of the ‘historical core black community.’ Meanwhile, the population of African Americans (as a global term for blacks in America) is expanding and diversifying. Some find this unacceptable, or resist the idea that new ‘black folk’ can come to America and benefit from all the hard work and suffering of the historic core black community. This blog will address some of the conflicts and serendipitous aspects of the encounter of historical black Americans with black “Others,” especially African immigrants. I’ll also be writing about black Americans in Africa.

Political considerations

Hey – this is real. What are the policy implications of a diverse black population? Is it good or bad? What are some unintentional negatives that are occurring with this population transformation? Do we/should we blame somebody for inequities resulting from this change, and if so, who? What I do know is that social change is constant and right now, fast. Whatever black Americans (historical) have been trying to tell the world about being black in America is now known (and finally, believed) everywhere, especially since this last summer and the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, and others. The cat is definitely out of the bag.

Published by wendywilsonfall

Wendy Wilson Fall is Associate Professor and Program Chair of the Africana Studies Program at Lafayette College. Her research engages questions of socio-cultural change, ethnic identity, and multi-sited historical narratives. She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters addressing these themes in the context of nomads in West Africa and the African diaspora of the U.S. Wilson-Fall is from Washington, D.C. and has traveled extensively in Africa, particularly in West Africa where she lived for more than ten years. She's also traveled to Madagascar, Egypt and Morocco as well as in Europe.

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