When it comes to certain labels in America, I am confused and I don't think I'm alone. It is not as simple as black and white, pun definitely intended.
The issue came up during our monthly genealogy meeting. I think it started because one of the members was displaying her DNA results. She was happy that her African roots had been identified but she was mystified that there was no trace of Native American DNA. She always believed she was part Indian. It forced her to accept her European ancestry. This led to a lively discussion about our collective identities.
I consider myself a Black American. Others see themselves as African-Americans. My confusion comes because I believe that anyone with ancestry from Africa and citizenship in America can be called African-American. Charlize Theron can be called African-American. And what about African slave descendants that live in the other Americas like Canada or Brazil? To compound my confusion, some people including some of my club members believe that Barack Obama can't be called an African-American or Black because he isn't descended from African slaves. But his father was African and he even knows what part of Africa from where he came unlike the majority of Black Americans. Crazy
When you add Native Americans into the mix it gets even more confusing. There are Black people with Native American genes and Whites who married Indians that are being denied their Indian heritage by the ruling tribal councils. Even though these individuals are descended from people on the Dawes Rolls (the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes) and have documented proof of their ancestry, they aren't recognized as citizens of their tribes. Those that are disenfranchised are accusing the Indian tribal councils of racism.
There are other divisions in our society and within the sub-cultures. It was pointed out at the meeting that someone knew a lady who was American but whose parents were from Japan so she considered herself Japanese not American. Puerto Ricans consider themselves Puerto Rican, not Black or African-American even if they have ancestors from Africa.
I guess it comes with our melting pot culture. And it is a testament to our democratic society that we all sort of kind of get along even with all the labels and hyphens. But it sure would be less confusing without them.