The Obama election was a milestone in our country's history. Blacks danced in the streets, talked about feelings of finally being able to feel at home in America, and cried for the cameras. But as a black woman in the Age of Obama, I don't see anything that reveals that Blacks in America have anything to celebrate. I grew up in the Deep South during the 1960's, so I'm quite aware of the issues our country faced at that time. Blacks mourned the deaths of two of their most profound leaders, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This was a time when those who represented the leadership of Black Americans promoted a longing for the "Motherland."
There was propaganda promoting African ancestry, even the reclassifying of Blacks as African Americans. The establishment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred many of the practices of racial discrimination and Blacks began to believe that achieving the dreams that Dr. King hailed in his speeches was possible. Black leaders such as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael promoted the new image of the African American through the Nation of Islam and the Black Power Movement. Kimani Nehusi, a lecturer at the University of East London, writes,
Many Rastafari use the term ‘repatriation' to express this longing for Africa, and a determination to return physically. However, when we examine the practice of Rastafari, we can see that the idea of a return to Africa goes beyond just repatriation, the physical resettlement on the continent of our ancestors. It also means a return to the values, culture and history of Africa, and a particular Africentric way of seeing the world. Many of these ideas have also been expressed in the work of Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah and other leading fighters for the rights of Africans at home and abroad.
Fast-forward to November 4, 2008 -- America elects her first African American President. Now, one would think that all has finally been laid to rest and America has once and for all times achieved racial reconciliation. But it appears that this election has resulted in even more racial division. After observing the attitudes of African Americans and gaining an understanding of the drive to classify Black Americans as African Americans, I must now say that I can no longer identify myself as an African American because this classification holds several proclamations and principles to which I no longer identify with as a citizen of this country. This title holds anti-American sentiments to which I cannot embrace. I have never held to the viewpoints of those from the Black Power Movement, Nation of Islam, or the Black Nationalist Movement. I don't think about Africa, or what it would be like to live there, as I have always been content living in the country of my birth, where I grew up in a small town in Louisiana.
The classification of me as an African American says that although I live in America, my loyalty and allegiance are to Africa. My loyalty and my allegiance are first to Jesus Christ who is the Lord and Savior of my life. These same principles were those held by many of our Founding Fathers who held high regard for God's protection and leadership over this nation. These are the principles that are common to the foundation of Conservatism. As I think of my viewpoints politically, everything I believe about this country is wrapped up in my Conservative views. The tenets of the Declaration of Independence were set forth to bring equality and well being to all Americans. And those are the principles that I embrace as an American.
It is my faith that drives everything that I believe and hold as dear. The Founders of this country envisioned a nation that would secure the God-given rights of its citizens. The desire that every citizen born in this country would not suffer the oppression they endured under England's rule, set as the backdrop for guaranteeing freedom for all Americans. The Founders especially desired that our nation would be one ruled and protected by our Creator God. Many beg to differ, but the Founders' insistence that God guide the ways of this nation is apparent in their acknowledgement of His hand in the creation of life, the rights of life, and the prosperity of life.
It is these principles that make me proud to just be an American. So, I select for my identity the title of American. The radical ideologies of Blacks involved in the Civil Rights Movement gave birth to attitudes like those of Professor Henry Lewis Gates Jr., the Harvard professor who became livid when his identity was questioned by a white police officer. Those who embrace Professor Gate's sentiments and attitudes today are those who still believe that America owes something to the Black population for the horrors of slavery. They are the ones that continue to stoke the fires of racial hatred toward other races and promote the continued attitude of self pity within the Black community. They also hold to the teachings of Black Liberation Theology, a school of thought that I never knew existed until the presidential campaign of then Senator Barak Obama. The teachings of Black Liberation Theology run counter to the American way. They also are counterproductive to the love I hold for my country.
I began to think about how we all got to be categorized in the first place. I have not noticed on any forms that the category of American is an option to be selected. Is this division amongst us perpetrated by our very own government? It is obvious that the inspiration for the classification of African American has nothing to do with those born of African descent. It is a radical group of Black Americans who hold to the anti-American views of those shared by Jeremiah Wright, Professor Gates, Jesse Jackson, President Obama and many others who came out of the radical Civil Rights Movement.
Because of these things, I now part ways with the classification of African American because I hold no allegiance to Africa. I embrace the American qualities of freedom to worship, freedom to have my own opinion, freedom to express my views, freedom to achieve whatever it is God has created me to achieve. I hope that I will find others like me who are willing to break ties with the things that divide us, and embrace the timeless principles that have made this country the greatest nation on earth. That is why, when the next U.S. Census occurs, I will be making a new category just for me, the classification of being an American.
Mary Baker is a married mother of seven children, a stay-at-home mom who loves writing, and enjoys home-schooling her eight-year-old daughter, Krystal. Mary lives in Houston, Texas.