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.