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Are You A ‘Regular Black’ and ‘Ethnic Black’?

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Screen-Shot-2014-04-08-at-4.20.37-PMBy Dr. Sinclair Grey III

Is there a difference in being ‘regular black’ or a black American? At first glance, this question could seem a bit confusing, so I will pose it another way. Does it make a difference if you’re black with one parent who migrated to the United States or if both parents were reared in the United States?

The term ‘regular black’ has ‘become a sort of declaration used by some native black Americans to distinguish themselves from first-generation black Americans—those whose parents migrated to the United States from Africa or the Caribbean.’

In a 2007 study of enrollment of people of color at Ivy League institutions, it was concluded that at least 40 percent of the black students had at least one parent born in a foreign land. On the other hand, at mainstream colleges and universities, about 20 percent of the students had one immigrant parent.
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Does a problem exist between the two groups? Can one just be called American and feel comfortable with it? For many people of migrant parents, that doesn’t seem to fit the bill. At cultural events on campuses, you can see students from different countries proudly waving their country’s flag, singing songs from their country, and even speaking in their country’s dialect.

As one student attested, ‘they had a strong sense of nationalism and cultural pride that evaded regular blacks.’

Here’s something else to think about. According to an article in The Root  on this subject, ‘there’s also the age-old affirmative action debate about whether ethnic black students are taking up admission slots that were intended for “regular” black students. If affirmative action policies were created to curb the discrimination that black Americans faced as a result of slavery and Jim Crow, the argument goes, why should colleges count black immigrants—or their children—toward their affirmative action goals?’

Did the parents of first-generation students receive better economic advantages? Do they truly understand the negative stereotypes that American blacks face?

Let’s consider what 17-year-old high school student Kwasi Enin did. He applied and was accepted into all of the Ivy League Institutions. Now, it’s just a matter of picking which one to attend. Does that say something about his cultural upbringing as compared to American blacks, even though he was raised in America and his mother is West African.

Does this make any sense in the end? Will there be divisions of ‘blackness?’

Source: The Root

Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, activist, author of (5) books, business consultant, life coach, and liberator of persons from all intellectual, social and cultural walks of life. He is a committed advocate for change. Email: Follow him on Twitter @drsinclairgrey. Visit his website: