Yesha Callahan

Here We Go Again: Whoopi Announces She’s “American, Not An African-American”

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If you ever wondered why Whoopi and Raven don’t butt heads much on The View it might have something to do with the fact that they’re cut from the same anti-African American cloth.

During a discussion on immigration on the talk show Tuesday morning, co-host Joy Behar made a joke that people may want to flee the United States given Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Whoopi didn’t find anything funny about the crack, instantly chiming in:

“You know what uh uh! This is my country.”

“My mother, my grandmother, my great grand folks, we busted ass to be here. I’m sorry. I’m an American. I’m not an African-American, I’m not a chick American, I’m an American.”

That declaration was, unsurprisingly, music to Raven-Symoné’s pro-American ears, which is why she eagerly chimed in with, “I’m an American! I’ve been here too long to not just hold American.” Whoopi then added:

“Since the 1700’s my people have been here, so I’m an American alongside of the Native-Americans. That’s the bottom line.”

While I get the point that conservatives often use descriptions like Muslim American and African-American to separate ethnic minorities from so-called real (read: Caucasian) Americans, being an American in nationality and an African in ancestral ethnicity are not mutually exclusive. We seem to be the only ones who run from this type of co-identity while white Americans proudly proclaim themselves as German American, Italian American, Irish American and the like. While none of us is naive to the different experiences of these ethnic groups in America, to eliminate one’s ancestral background as a means of cultural assimilation suggests you’ve bought into the lie that being African-American somehow makes you less than. I’d far rather identify with African-Americans  — people who built this country and progressed from not even being considered a whole person to earning a position in the top political role in the country — than simply American — individuals who stripped Native Americans of their land, transported Africans from theirs and established a nation on the blood, sweat, and tears of everyone but themselves. This is my country and self-describing as African-American doesn’t make that any less true.

  1. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    People who identify as German-American, Italian American, Chinese-American etc may do so because they have a more recent tie/connection to their country of origin. I’m not going to sit here and act as if it’s the same as someone like me whose family has been here so long that no connection to another country really exists. Also, how someone identifies is their business. How Whoopi sees herself has nothing to do with anyone else

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @_a_

      I agree I never liked being called African American,
      I prefer black and I am American.

      • January 6, 2016 - Reply

        @OSHH

        Agreed.Everyone has their preferences regarding what they like being called.Everytime someone states a preference that is different from the majority folks get up in arms.

  2. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    The problem is whites are viewed as Americans as soon as they get here. They don’t need to know a single word of english. White and American have become synonymous while black people who are descendants of slaves are not viewed as true Americans.

    • January 15, 2016 - Reply

      @joe

      Anywhere in the world minorities usually get the “hyphen”, and it’s not necessarily a negative thing.

      For example, in Canada White French-speaking Canadians are a linguistic minority, and they interchangeably refer themselves as French-Canadians, Quebekers, Francophones, and sometimes just French (even though they aren’t citizens of the French Republic, and their French is way different than the French spoken in France).

      I honestly don’t believe mainstream America doesn’t view Black Americans as not being Americans. There may be racism but AA are Americans, and nobody can change that.

  3. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Shrug. Whoopi said this years ago. Been saying it. When the ratings are low on The View, they choose a hot topic that they think will get black social media ignited. They need us to pull their boring show into into the headlines.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Prof. Genie

      Sad, Cooning for dollars

    • January 15, 2016 - Reply

      @Prof. Genie

      That’s probably it, and it looks like it did work.

      • January 16, 2016 - Reply

        @Zorino

        Disappointing. I’ll be glad when we learn.

      • January 16, 2016 - Reply

        @Zorino

        Even gladder when they stop that mess. I hate that they use us that way.

  4. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Please don’t give this woman any more shine. Thank you.

  5. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Funny how White folks don’t dispute the moniker, “All American” they use to describe themselves.

  6. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    S/N: How many of you have heard that the first Americans were Black, not Native American?

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      I think I recall hearing something about the Moors being here first.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      Yes, I heard of it from either Moors or many black scholars.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      I’ve heard it, too; Moors, explorers and scholars.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      I think i read that in They Came before Columbus

      • January 13, 2016 - Reply

        @Mary Burrell

        Great book, by Ivan Van Sertima. Ocean currents travel from the African coast to the Caribbean.

    • January 8, 2016 - Reply

      @Noirluv45

      Africans, yes. I’ve read of Mansa Musa from Senegal who set sail with his 200 man crew or summat like that. Then again, a lot of foreigners popped in here before Columbus. It is said that there’s lots of evidence that the Chinese or some other Asian group, regularly sailed to the West Coast waaaaaaaay before Columbus. Heck, it’s recorded that a number of Englishmen reached the New World years before Columbus. American textbooks are so outdated.

  7. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Humanity is of African descent. Everything else is just redundant.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @tinycurls

      Amen.

    • January 6, 2016 - Reply

      @tinycurls

      Thats what I’m talking about!

  8. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    She has the right to call herself what she wants. Yet, to me I’m an African American or an black American and I’m proud of it. I am of black African descent. Whoopi has the right to stay in America. Our ancestors were in America for a long time. Likewise, I don’t agree with her views on other issues, but that’s another matter. Just because some black people want to identify themselves as African Americans doesn’t mean that we want to promote unnecessary divisiveness. I don’t worship America. I am more than what’s found in America. I am part of a world community. Our ancestors didn’t just built America. We also worked in liberation movements throughout the Americas and Africa. I believe in having international solidarity with the Afro-French, the Afro-Brazilians, the Afro-Caribbeans, the Black Africans, and all people of black African descent.

  9. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    I really am disappointed in Whoopi

  10. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    The writer of this article made it up… I have never heard a white American claim to be anything other than an American — unless they are fresh off the boat.

    • January 15, 2016 - Reply

      @TivoliEclipse

      Some White Americans do use the terms Irish-American (especially during St. Patrick), German-American (Oktoberfest), and Italian-American. in Canada, White French-speaking Canadians refer to themselves as French-Canadian or simply French although they aren’t citizens of the France.

  11. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Okay, here’s what I *think* she was saying. We’re called African-Canadian, so I think the reasoning is the same. I’m not even saying I agree with it, this is just what I think she means:

    I don’t think that she was disowning blackness, I think was rejecting the othering that is automatically applied to it. White people came to America (Canada, too, Canada likes to forget that it was very much a part of the slavery game until about 30 years before America stopped) at the same time as did black people but they don’t have to qualify their American-ness (Canadian-ness) the way that black people do. It’s as if white people belong here, they’re ‘girl/boy next door’ and ‘All-American’ but black people still get the ‘where are REALLY from’ question all the time. I think she’s asking how many more centuries do black people have to be on this continent before they’re seen as part of the fabric of the land the way that white people are. How long will it take before they belong and don’t have to explain their presence to white people and for them to remember that they aren’t any more America’s Sweetheart than are black people? Maybe she thinks it creates an unconscious divide between black Americans (Canadians) and REAL Americans (Canadian) by reminding white people that they aren’t really one of the tribe so they don’t have to be fully accepted. Maybe she thinks it putds black people in a netherspace of not belonging anywhere, so if they don’t have a nation, no has the obligation to see more than black skin.

    Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans who once weren’t white, got to be plain old American once whiteness deemed them acceptable enough to be worthy of being thought of that way, so if they refer to themselves as a hyphenate it’s a flourish, it isn’t the entirety of who they are. They aren’t race first and primarily and everything else is an afterthought because it’s taken on its face (literally and figuratively) that they’re supposed to be here, that they *look* like they’re supposed to be here. An American is an American is an American for them and that’s assumed, but with black people, that’s all you are, that’s all people see and you don’t have an identity outside of it, you’re just a black, but with the ‘African-American’ title, there’s always that reminder to white people of, ‘Right, the slavery, you’re the slave people and, oh yeah, you’re people. Almost forgot about that.’

    That’s what I’m picking up from her. If Whoopi wants to clarify, she can look me up.

    • January 15, 2016 - Reply

      @Jo 'Mama' Besser

      I rarely ever come across the term African-Canadian. Is it really used that often as in the US? Canada always comes across as non “racial with no slavery past”.

      • January 15, 2016 - Reply

        @Zorino

        Yes, it’s around, even if it seems a bit off, even to Canadians who are used to hearing ‘African-American’. Canada LOVES to pretend that it’s more progressive and tolerant than it is because when compared to America, it can look decent. Well– I’m not going to say ‘no offense’ because that’s useless–with the race to the bottom that characterises American racial politics, it’s not difficult to look better. ‘Better than’ isn’t the same thing as ‘good’ though and our last Prime Minister was so racist that even white people got tired of him.

        • January 15, 2016 - Reply

          @Jo 'Mama' Besser

          I like the ‘Better than isn’t the same thing as good’ phrase.

  12. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    As much as I generally dislike much of what comes from Whoppie Golberg she has a very valid point. Yes black people here are of African decent, all of humanity is. But this dual labeling is an attempt to create an “other” class who doesn’t belong and who can be used as a scapegoat.

  13. January 6, 2016 - Reply

    Africa: land, history, identity, mineral rich, identity connections, prospective black trade markets, international economic and political power

    Black: a color.

  14. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    Hyphen between African and American not required or desired.
    Write African American just as you did when you wrote Irish American and Italian American etc. Also capitalize Black when referring to people. For instance use
    Black American instead of black American. I recall reading and L.A. Times article about “Korean Americans and blacks” I consider the use of lower case black when referring to a group of people, their history, and their culture.

  15. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    I am much more concerned about the use of the n-word.
    My question to Whoopi is what does she feel about the entertainment industry promoting the use of the slave word, nigg**, and killing Black people, and only Black people. The same music executives that push gangsta rap kill nigga lyrics into minds of people would not distribute one song about killing Jews or gays. Imagine if Berry Gordy put out songs about killing Jewish people. What would be the reaction. Now think about Jewish music excutives like Jimmy Iovine at Interscope pushing song a about kiling Black people. We allow the music to dehumanize us, and then act surprised when Black Americans are murdered, everyday 97% of the time police don’t even have to stand trial. Even people that don’t use nigg* are being programmed to think it. That effects the way people are treated. It’s literally a matter of life and death.
    The eaisiest person to toss into a grave or into prison is a nigg**. Don’t be one, don’t answer to the word, don’t tolerate the use of the word our future depends on it.

    • January 15, 2016 - Reply

      @MrUniteUs1

      I agree with you. Plus, Whoopi supports the use of the word nigga. She even said that White reporters should be allowed to actually pronounce the word nigger not N-word (the censored version) while reporting on a story.

  16. January 15, 2016 - Reply

    «being an American in nationality and an African in ancestral ethnicity are not mutually exclusive. »

    I have to agree with author on that one. Saying you’re AA doesn’t mean you’re anti-American. It’s all about the CONTEXT. Also, you can use Black American, American Black, African-American, Afro-American, Negro. Well, people don’t really Negro any more. You can use different terms interchangeably. No big deal.

    While Caucasians in the US don’t use the term European-American, I do SOMETIMES hear the terms Irish-American, German-American, Italian-America, etc. Heck, even Donald Trump has referred himself as German stating that his great-great father who immigrated to the US from Germany changed the name from Trumpf to Trump. He also claims his Scottish heritage on his mother’s side. He has even acquired a vast land there.

    Since most Black Americans can’t trace their origins to one single country in Africa, it makes sense to say AA otherwise people would use Nigerian-American, Ghanaian-America, etc.

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