Being Black: A study of Black panethnicity in the United States



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While the examination of Asian, Hispanic, Indian, and white panethnicity abounds, systematic research on black panethnicity is surprisingly absent. This research is the first comprehensive study of black panethnicity in the United States—the oldest form of panethnicity in America. This study traces the origins of black panethnicity to black arrival and slavery in colonial America, follows its evolvement in historical periods, and analyzes its current status.
Comparative-historical methods were used to assess the creation and evolution of black panethnicity, and compare it with Asian American, Hispanic American, American Indian, and white American panethnicity. To evaluate the current status of black panethnicity, fifteen in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with native blacks and black immigrants who self-identified as black and lived in America. The analysis of historical and contemporary data reveals three critical junctures in the development of black panethnicity. 1) In the first critical juncture, black panethnicity emerged out of black slavery as a result of the racialization of distinct African tribes into the category of black and the resolve of those people to survive. 2) In the second critical juncture, black panethnicity evolved during the historical periods of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and Civil Rights. a) During Reconstruction, the black elite class helped newly freed blacks navigate through the “cultural trauma of slavery” by advocating for agency.
b) A spirit of inclusiveness and a celebration of black culture increased racial pride and provided ethnic representation of black Americans or African Americans through the era of Jim Crow. c) Black consciousness, the unrelenting quest for black human rights, and the ability of individuals and organizations to mobilize as a result of activism permanently solidified black panethnicity during the Civil Rights period. 3) Black panethnicity is currently strong, but the emerging native-immigrant divide may erode it. The findings of this study provide insight into the formation and development of black panethnicity in the United States and will contribute to research on panethnicity in general. The findings will also have practical implications for the unity and solidarity of black Americans to further their common interests.



Panethnicity, Ethnicity, Culture, Race, African-American, African diaspora, Native-Black, Black immigrants, Slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, Civil Rights