The United States is basically a “melting pot”, a multi-ethnic society composed of various races, cultures, and religions. Thus, labels are imperative in establishing an identity to both individuals and groups. Specifically, Blacks/African-Americans take racial labeling to a different extent based on the past. The typical racial label for Blacks has altered throughout time from Colored to Negro to Black to Africa-American. The Black/African-American race has endured so much over the past century that defining ourselves through a label may be more difficult for some as opposed to others based on background, age, and personal beliefs. The many revisions to our racial label may be a result of us being unsatisfied with the amount of respect received by others races, notably whites, and our yearning for equality. No one desires to feel subordinate in a society that has deemed or deems them inferior.
North Carolina State University is a predominately white institution with few Black/African-American students. However, among this small group, are individuals with diverse perceptions on racial labeling. Many Blacks/African-American students would rather be labeled as African-Americans simply because Black is a color and not an ethnicity or race. When faced with the label of African-American versus the label of being a Black individual, one would question what is Black? Often times, people may associate skin color with race, and many can concur that just because your skin pigmentation is dark does not make you Black/African-American. Conversely, several individuals would rather be racially labeled as Black. Among countless reasons, they don’t know if they are of African descent. Some may argue that everyone is of African descent. If this is true then every American citizen should be racially labeled as African-American, not just the people that look the part.
Personally, I was born in the “melting pot”, America, and so were my parents. This does not make me African-American, Black, Colored, or Negro. It makes me an American; however, I candidly embrace my cultural heritage. Both labels, Black and African-American, symbolize strength, courage, determination, passion, rhythm, vitality, and confidence. Consequently, racial labels only sustain American inequality barriers, such as comparing people (Americans) to a majority and a minority, which we so avidly oppose. In order to encourage equality racial labels must be eliminated and only used in individual discretion. In reality, an individual cannot be an African citizen and an American citizen simultaneously. The “melting pot” must not call the kettle black or African-American, but American.