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What I have learned

This is not a new subject. There are many academics who have done a great deal of work on this issue, and I have gratefully borrowed from their work. The benefit of exploring this issue through a camera lens is that it captures emotions, reactions and conversations that academic research may not. So after more than 50 screenings, I have gained some key insights that I hope will inform further research:

  • that this is the moment for the conversation;
  • that the weakness of institutional memory among student groups creates a constant reinvention of the wheel among African Diaspora groups;
  • that black people are confused about what to call themselves;
  • that white people are confused about what to call black people;
  • that some people are quick to point out that race is a social construct; yet can’t tolerate people who don’t describe themselves in simple racial terms;
  • that identity is fluid and context-specific;
  • that Black is universal. In the year that I’ve been screening this documentary, I have met many people of African descent who are not quite at ease being called African-American, but most are comfortable with being called black, even if among other things. Makes you wonder about the ascendancy of “African-American” as the proper way to call black people in America; and
  • that, above all, people just want to be people. In the informal poll on http://www.neoafricanamericans.com, there are several options, but, for a long time, the option with the most votes was “A Person.”
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