Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 8:39 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's in a name?

I am writing in response to the writer who complained that the name "African-American" did not include whites who were born in Africa, now living in America. Of all the names that I've been called in reference to my race (and not all very nice ones), the one I like most is "African-American" because it references both heritages: American and African. Not that either of those heritages are better than any other in the world, but simply because they are mine.

But I especially appreciate the "African" part of that name because, unlike those whites born in Africa to whom the writer referred, my family name of origin did not cross the Atlantic with my ancestors, as did Mr. Celtic's. A family name is a terrible thing to steal. But I can look at the color of my skin and the texture of my hair and know, at least in part, from whence I hail.

I think that is something we as human beings share a common desire to know our ancestry. I love those African ancestors of mine. I am doing family history at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and one day hope to find my family in Africa and restore my family name, then perhaps my name will stand alone as a testimony of those brave Africans who long-endured a lot of heartache and misery, that I may simply live.

Penelope Surratt Anderson

P. S. If those whites born in Africa, now living in America, want to be called African-American, they should.