The more I hear about the need to be an “unhyphenated American”, the more I know that I can’t help African-Americans as one.
Every now and then, I get a chance to hear from a well-intended patriot that tells me why he or she enjoys listening to me speak. I got it again recently as a person came up to me telling that he was glad that I was an “unhyphenated American.”
Sadly, as much as I love the sentiment, as a Black man, I cannot fully embrace the identity. It may work completely for some, but it may not work for Black leadership to embrace becoming “unhyphenated Americans.” If anything, at this point of time in our nation’s history – with the level of challenges we face in Black America – it is time that we re-embrace ourselves fully, not reject any aspect of ourselves or what makes us strong as a nation.
I know that some may not appreciate my position and I apologize if they believe that I am looking to promote division. I do not. Further, I speak out of love – for a stronger America full of more working Americans, more stable American families, and healthier American communities throughout the country.
As a Black political activist, I have to embrace the challenges within our communities. Sadly, the ratios go up in a negative way once we incorporate the “hyphens”, notably the one of “African-American.” Therefore, that means for me, particularly as a Black conservative that sees a need to improve America while balancing the dynamics of Black politics and urban policies, I have to claim “the hyphen.”
Looking at the conditions of our children throughout the nation, I personally have no other choice but to “claim the hyphen,” especially if I love my people – black, brown, white, young and old – and particularly if I love our Black youth and want to see things turn around.
Don’t get me wrong. I fully believe that we must love each other as unhyphenated Americans. I embrace the intent and need to love as “unhyphenated Americans.” That is the ONLY way to love. That is the only way to be truly patriotic for America. Further, we must debate with a common tie between us that fosters respect during our passionate advocacy for our positions. I fully believe that we must not discriminate on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, or place of origin. That is the only way to honor our soldiers and our forefathers. In the regard, we must be “unhyphenated Americans.” We are all American citizens and, thus, have a right to be loved and protected equally in the United States. In that regard, there is no need to have a hyphen designating anything about us as neighbors in this great land.
Yet, as a Black man, knowing what Black people both confront and endure in this nation (be it due to racism or – more often today – due to the breakdowns within our families that are in our control), there is no way that I can fully consider myself an “unhyphenated American.” And I won’t anytime soon – not until “the hyphen” stops coming with such negative connotations.
Whenever “the hyphen” is added to the term &ldqu