(see pt 1)

We Black Americans are Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, Jewish, and Atheists. Our first languages are French, Spanish, Arabic, English, Swahili or Portuguese. Or another language entirely.

We may be the descendants of enslaved people. We may be the descendants of people who have *always* been free.

Still, African American or not, Black people in America are all subject to the same racist beliefs and systems that led to the enslavement of *some* of our ancestors in the first place. That is the reality of having visually perceivable African ancestry in the U.S.

It is also true that Black Americans reap the benefits of the sacrifices and contributions made by our African American brethren. African American people have paid an innumerable price for the freedoms and dignity that they’ve continuously demanded and that all Americans — Black or otherwise — enjoy.

I haven’t always had strong feelings about being called “African American”. Growing up where I did, I was indifferent to it. There, it was understood — even to people outside of the Black community — how diverse the African diaspora can be. Nigerians, Haitians, Jamaicans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans — first and second-generation Black Americans were prevalent and their distinctive cultures celebrated.

These are my opinions. Ask another Black person and they may believe something different. They may even be angry by what I say. I don’t speak for all Black people.

But, as this city matures and attracts all kinds of new people, we must, as a region, resist the urge to shed our cultural identities for simplicity’s sake. We should encourage newcomers to retain some degree of connection to their heritage — regardless of their race.

This mindset of acceptance will attract the diverse perspectives and innovative thinking our region needs to tackle its most vexing problems.