Why is racial grouping of diverse ethnicities with different backgrounds still considered acceptable?

To me as a European who never went to America and living in a country where 95% of people are caucasian, race never mattered nearly as much as ethnicity did, because a Norwegian and Irish or Portuguese and Turkish person can stand next to each other and they might physically look similar, with even the same skin pigment, but they have almost nothing in common in regards to their history, culture, language, origins, traditions and so on.

In America it’s the other way round and race will always be more important than anything, to such an extreme extent, that an average person has no idea what the words Hausa, Orawa or Yoruba mean, even though they are the largest African ethnicities (after Arabs) with around 80, 42 and 40 million people respectively. There are also tens of millions of Hausa, Orawa, Yoruba, Igbo and other people in America, some of your favorite actors, singers, writters, scientists, sportists and so on are among them, but you will never know because they are just reffered to as Afroamericans with little to no respect to their actual ethnicities. Even the wiki article about Afroamericans doesn’t mention Hausa or Igbo people at any point, except all the way in the bottom in the footnotes which no one reads.

It’s not even just about respecting ethnic and cultural diversities (I mean, imagine calling pizza, egg benedict or croissants all together as simply “caucasian cuisine”), but it’s also about delegating responsibility for past events properly.

Whether it’s a 90’s show like Fresh prince of Bell Air or a modern like Brooklyn nine nine, there is always a segment in which “caucasians” without specifying ethnicities are guilty for everything, meanwhile, in those same shows, the specific ethnicity or country that did the absolute worst against Afroamericans is always glorified for their posh accent, manners, tea time, royal dynasty, but the elephant in the room is always completely ignored. Imagine you are a Romanian or Bulgarian in America, you are the second or third generation and yet you are by default presented in the same way as others sharing your skin color who lived there for centuries and whose ancestors took direct part in discrimination, segregation and even slavery.

That is why ethnicity matters far more than simple colors, otherwise we could do the same approach and delegate the responsibility for Pearl Harbour on Laotians, Vietnamese, Cambodians and so on, which would obviously make no sense.

The answer is because America’s history is built on racism, and American-style racism IS sort of unique in the world. The details of why/how that came to be I invite you to read more about American History to learn.

FYI Afro-Americans typically does not include Yoruba-Americans, Igbo-Americans, Fula-Americans, etc., even when they identify as Black. Afro-Americans are an American ethnic group. One cannot be categorical about this, however.

The Orawa are from Slovakia and Poland. Did you mean Odawa (NE US)?? You are not getting millions of people from those. Oromo? They are not Nigerian though.

It is going to be pretty hard to find anyone alive today upon whom to “delegate the responsibility for Pearl Harbour”.

American racism is not even 100% about skin colour, either; you cannot reduce it to just that. (Not that certain skin tones do not make it a lot easier to “pass”.)

In fact, one can say that Black Americans are an ethnic group indigenous to the Americas.

A heck of a lot of black Americans today have no way of knowing what their African ethnic heritage was. They might, 6 or 12 generations ago, have been e.g. Yoruba as the OP suggests. Or maybe not. And once their ancestors were in the USA, there’s been 150 to 250 years of mixing with black folks from other African ethnicities. Not everyone is a “mutt”, but nearly nobody is a “purebred”. The same muttliness of course applies to Caucasians in general, but perhaps in not quite so time-concentrated a fashion. Europeans been mixing fluids for millenia.

It might be nice to tag everyone regardless of skin shade with a detailed breakdown of all their contributing ethnicities. But that’s not really terribly important to moving forward from where we unfortunately find ourselves.

It seems to me the OP's real complaint is he wants the guilt for US slavery attached only to white descendants of English / British slave-owners and all other Caucasians should be given a pass. But especially Caucasian folks who come from countries other than the UK, and doubly so for those whose non-UK ancestors came to the USA after 1864.

Assuming I’ve accurately parsed the OP’s point, I do not find that a valid opening position, nor do I find the arguments made in favor to be persuasive.

If tru, many other nations are also built on racism, I mean look at South Africa foir a nation really built on racism (they got better). No, we are not unique in our racism. Racism is endemic even in the UK.


Most Racist Countries in the World (WaPo and BT results combined)*:

  1. India
  2. Lebanon
  3. Bahrain
  4. Libya
  5. Egypt
  6. Philippines
  7. Kuwait
  8. Palestine
  9. South Africa
  10. South Korea

Yeah, but you put a Norwegian-American, an Irish-American, and a Portugeuse-American in a room together, and the differences are a lot less pronounced. Hell, you put a Norwegian-American, an Irish-American, and a German-American in a room together, and it’s just me, sitting there all by myself. When you start getting three or four generations removed from an actual immigrant, the differences between where they immigrated from start to matter a lot less.

I said American-style racism, which IS mostly simply color based. Not what caste you are in, not what your religion is, not your ethnic background, just plain old color. I will give you Apartheid South Africa was probably the closest parallel.

Nope. Look, Mexicans are discriminated against but their skin color is similar to white dudes with a tan, Italians, Spanish, Greeks, etc. UK and the EU it is also skin color. We are not unique.

Mexicans are referred to as Brown --both by racists and sometimes by themselves. Plus a large percentage of Mexicans have indigenous roots, so they’re closer to American Indians than Europeans.

I am as brown as most Mexicans. White dudes with a tan are also. Its not skin color.

Lots of ethnicities are discriminated against in the US. Almost every immigrant group after the Pilgrims were seen as lesser. Skin color is only one factor in this. But Black slavery is a separate category. African people did not immigrate here. They were captured, ripped from their homes, and turned into property in a foreign land. Even historical slavery in other cultures was rarely this thorough, this degrading, this hopeless, the chasm between the enslaved and the owners so deliberately made unbridgeable.

It is a fundamental underlayment of American life in a way that permeates every aspect of our history. This slavery also changed the enslaved in deep and permanent ways. It’s just different.

Somebody like Barack Obama may be able to identify with his Kenyan roots. But most Black Americans don’t have that option. Their ancestors came here as slaves not as voluntary immigrants. They did not have the option of setting up ethnic enclaves in America. So their original ethic heritage was lost and a new ethnic heritage, indigenous to America, developed.

This is an interesting idea that had never occurred to me. I imagine they would trace their roots back to West Africa somewhere, but yeah, a new indigenous ethnicity seems possible.

That sort of slavery is by no means unique to the USA. Arab slave traders were doing it before Columbus even, and a good number of South and Central American states used Black slavery also.
Slavery was prevalent in many parts of Africa[36] for many centuries before the beginning of the Atlantic slave trade. There is evidence that enslaved people from some parts of Africa were exported to states in Africa, Europe, and Asia prior to the European colonization of the Americas.[37]

The Atlantic slave trade was not the only slave trade from Africa; as Elikia M’bokolo wrote in Le Monde diplomatique:

> The African continent was bled of its human resources via all possible routes. Across the Sahara, through the Red Sea, from the Indian Ocean ports and across the Atlantic. At least ten centuries of slavery for the benefit of the Muslim countries (from the ninth to the nineteenth) … Four million enslaved people exported via the Red Sea, another four million[[38]]…(Atlantic slave trade - Wikipedia) through the Swahili ports of the Indian Ocean, perhaps as many as nine million along the trans-Saharan caravan route, and eleven to twenty million (depending on the author) across the Atlantic Ocean.[39]… The first Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans to, primarily, American colonies of the Portuguese and Spanish empires. Before the 1520s, slavers took Africans to Seville or the Canary Islands and then exported some of them from Spain to its colonies in Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, with 1 to 40 slaves per ship. These supplemented enslaved Native Americans. In 1518, the Spanish king gave permission for ships to go directly from Africa to the Caribbean colonies, and they started taking 200-300 per trip.[59]

During the first Atlantic system, most of these slavers were Portuguese, giving them a near-monopoly. Decisive was the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas which did not allow Spanish ships in African ports. Spain had to rely on Portuguese ships and sailors to bring slaves across the Atlantic. From 1525, slaves were transported directly from the Portuguese colony of Sao Tomé across the Atlantic to Hispaniola.[60]

A burial ground in Campeche, Mexico, suggests enslaved Africans had been brought there not long after Hernán Cortés completed the subjugation of Aztec and Mayan Mexico in 1519. The graveyard had been in use from approximately 1550 to the late 17th century.[61]… Until the middle of the 17th century, Mexico was the largest single market for slaves in Spanish America.[66] While the Portuguese were directly involved in trading enslaved peoples to Brazil,… Unlike all of their imperial competitors, the Spanish almost never delivered slaves to foreign territories. By contrast, the British, and the Dutch before them, sold slaves everywhere in the Americas.[68]

The second Atlantic system was the trade of enslaved Africans by mostly English, French, and Dutch traders and investors.[69] The main destinations of this phase were the Caribbean islands Curaçao, Jamaica and Martinique,

Take a look at this chart- Destinations and flags of carriers–

Atlantic slave trade - Wikipedia.

and lower down- this chart- Distribution of slaves (1519–1867)

The USA got less than 10% of the black slave trade to the new World.


You’re derailing the thread with your efforts at making a “both sides” argument. Drop it now, please.

Um… are you aware that the slave owners in the Western Hemisphere did everything possible to erase the language, culture, and history of the people they enslaved? And that slaves were deliberately mixed to avoid having too many from one area/village together to make it harder for rebellions to occur?

Aside from some very recent immigrants (such as the father of one of our recent presidents) people of African descent in the Americans have little to no idea of what ethnicity/tribe/nation their African-born ancestors came from.

African-Americans are referred to as such because so much of their personal past history has been lost. Deliberately, by the people who enslaved them.

I don’t have to imagine - I am a 3rd/4th generation descendant of European immigrants. With a complexion pale enough to be a vampire I’m definitely identified as White. I have definitely been lumped in with various unsavory types based solely on my superficial skin-color resemblance to them.

My ancestors did not own slaves. They arrived here after the Civil War. On the other hand, I do have White privilege. I don’t have a problem getting a cab to stop for me on a city street. I don’t fear the police nearly as much as my darker-skinned neighbors. I get why there’s anger and resentment, it’s because there are genuine grievances that haven’t been fixed for centuries. I like to think we’ve made some progress in the last 50 years but it’s not enough.

I’m not sure who you are addressing here. Do you think that either African-Americans or Euro-Americans are unaware of what you are saying? We live with it daily.

^ This.


And, as @Alessan notes, it’s not just the US it’s all the Americas.

No, for the most part the descendants of the enslaved can not trace their roots back to anywhere in Africa except in the most vague and general terms. People from Africa were first brought over to North America in the 1600’s, there’s been over 400 years of lost family history, forced removals, and mixing of groups here.

Genetic testing can give some information but it can’t connect individuals to a particular village, often not even a particular ethnic group or nation.

Also, don’t forget that a fair number of African Americans have ancestry other than just African - lots of European ancestry in some Black family trees, along with Asian and Native.

In the Deep South - actually somewhat congruent with the former slave states - there are also White people who are just “American” or “White”, their ancestors having been here for sufficient centuries all memory and history of where the original immigrants came from has been lost. And ancestral genetic testing has revealed a certain number have African ancestry a lot more recently than anyone would have guessed by looking at them. Along with a dash of other groups here and there.

This. My ancestors came to the US after 1900, and were not from any of the main slaving nations (which include Spain, Portugal, and Belgium to as great a degree as England, but all those people are dead today, so… moving on). But they were allowed to acquire property and get ahead in ways that were still being denied to Black Americans in the 1900s. And today I am the beneficiary of that. I am seen as “white” (most of the time). I have white privilege.

My ethnicity also matters to me – I’m an Ashkenazi Jew. But honestly, in day-to-day life in America, being White matters more.

Apart from whatever clue they get from their surname, many white Americans don’t have a clear grasp of their ethnic lineage either.

American assimilation - the so-called “melting pot” - applied only to European immigrants. The goal of the melting pot was to remove ethnicities and create “Americans”, i.e. people of the white race. Even this much leeway was too much. The Immigration Act of 1924 basically eliminated immigration from eastern and southern Europe.

All other races were lumped together by skin color and treated as non-Americans. We’ve already mentioned how the slave trade deliberately erased tribal, ethnic origins. But whites also tended to lump all Native Americans as just “Indians”, especially after direct contact decreased. Whites tended to lump together all Asians together, no matter what country they came from or their ethnicity. Whites tended to lump all Hispanics together, no matter what country they came from or their ethnicity. Today whites are tending to lump all Muslims together, no matter what country they come from or their ethnicity.

As a result, it’s quite common to see peoples who have been lumped together to lump together the people who denigrate them. “Whitey” is an enemy just from the fact they escape the systemic discrimination that pervades American society. Why should blacks, Indians, Asians, Hispanics, Muslims etc. care about the ethnicity of people who are treated otherwise equally and superiorly?