I keep hearing the term African-Canadian used, usually by the white, mainstream, institutional types in their effort to be politically correct.
It annoys me, because it further plays into the ‘monolithic’ black culture that western society is trying to force.
Furthermore, it’s lazy. It’s nothing but a borrowed term from the United States, with little meaning for Canadian blacks. The fact is that 70% of blacks in Canada are of Caribbean heritage, and the other 30% is divided among those from Africa and those who are descendants of American slaves via the Underground Railroad. In fact, the last group is the only one of the three groups of blacks that actively uses the term African-Canadian. The term is rarely, if ever, gets used among Caribbean and African blacks, who identify themselves by their ancestor country first and their skin color second.
In other words, an black person from Nigeria calls himself Nigerian or Nigerian-Canadian, and a black person from Ethiopia calls herself Ethiopian-Canadian. Some may even use tribal labels like Yoruba, etc. Blacks from the Caribbean, who make up the majority, refer to themselves almost exclusively as ‘black’ or ‘black Caribbean’– never African-Canadian. And yet, the term ‘African-American’ is heavily preferred by media people, too embracing of a term that has more meaning in the U.S. than Canada.
I don’t want to negate the term, for it’s not negative. I simply find it inappropriate and dishonest. It masks the Caribbean heritage of the 70% black Canadians who are not directly from Africa, while erasing the individuality among those who are from Africa, further contributing to the monolithic culture myth.
Sadly, its usage may continue, ignorantly. As long as Canadians are too busy painting the picture of a perfectly politically correct society, they’ll never abandon the term, because it represents the impersonal formality that belongs in such a society.