R&B - I have heard the term roll off the tongues of Caribbean and African students at my school usually when referring to someone they did not like. Being late to the trend, as usual, I was thoroughly confused; until I was informed that it meant regular and black. That’s when I could not help but let out a heavy sigh.I understood.
‘Regular and black’ meant African-Americans. I hate this term; let me count the ways, mostly because it’s used to insinuate that African-Americans have no culture. Which I always argue is virtually impossible. The definition of culture is a way of life and you have to be dead no to have that. Yes, many Black Americans have lost some of their original culture from Africa but they created their own meshing in some of the American culture. To my Caribbean people, sound familiar? The Caribbean culture has a lot of African influences and traditions that were passed down through the generations, but we did lose a good amount and we mixed our cultures with those around us, whether it is Spanish, British, French, or Indian. What makes us any different?
I’ve been noticing that people relate culture, ethnicity, or heritage with anything that is exotic or foreign to the majority. For example, the idea that if you speak English you don’t have your own language. This is not the case at all. The African-American culture goes beyond southern foods, unique colloquialisms, slavery, and Jim Crow.It’s not easy coming to this country being made fun of because of the way you talk, what you eat, the music you listen to, or the way you dance. When your own culture is constantly misunderstood or being offended, the immediate reaction is to be offensive in return. When terms like “African booty scratcher,” are constantly thrown around, stereotypes are used as your mouthpiece, and the only images you see of your country are ones of the impoverished, you tend to retaliate. A black American woman once asked my mom if her people, meaning Jamaicans, “still lived in trees.” A Haitian friend of mine, heard girls laughing and making jokes about Haitians having to eat dirt cookies. When this happens constantly, the defensive response is always “Well at least I have a culture!” Now I know this term was created as a defense mechanism, however, it’s the wrong one. What the black diaspora needs now more than ever is unity. This does not mean to completely forget your own specific culture or nationality nor does it mean to merely be tolerant.When we step outside that door, we are Black American by default. No one knows your nationality and most don’t care. “Their” issues or stereotypes are yours as well. I understand that many have been hurt due to ignorance but let’s not spread it. When we use such an ugly term like R&B to refer to people that look just like us, we hurt ourselves in the long run, because at the end of the day many of us came from the same place, the boat just made different stops.