To put the subject of "What Shall We Call Ourselves?" in perspective, there is the African Tradition Naming Practices and the American Naming Practices. The African Tradition Naming practices originated with God's "Word" itself being the Divine Presence, its power, and its manifestation.
Because human beings are made in the Image of God (constituting human Dignity) and possessing the power of God (constituting Divinity but in the proportion of a bucket full of water compared with the ocean), human beings possessed the same power. In other words, as long as man stayed connected within the context of the Law of Sympathy (all God's creatures and creations are related no matter how remote in time or space), man's word was also a "Living Word" so important and so real as to be deemed sacred. When Africans were brought to the Americas as Slaves, there was a disconnection from African Tradition naming practices because evil European captors would not allow it; and deliberately sought to break it up; and took over the power of naming Black people. The combination of a disconnection and an interference with reconnection caused naming practices in the Americas to drift into another world, causing African Slaves and today's Afrocentric people to be confused and scrambling for "right" terms. Today, "Neo- African" is one of those many terms used to define any person who has dominant African genes and strictly adheres to an Africentric lifestyle and culture.
For these as well as for terms used to label us, I understand both sides (but not necessarily their scope) of the arguments pertaining to a given controversial term. My position is that all words are born equal and without meaning until someone gives each a meaning. And just because he/she gives it meaning does not make it right because his/her opinion is no better than that of any one else. Many conceptual doors have opened from my by-passing a need to judge something. Instead, I prefer to see what it is, where it leads, and why it appears to whom the way it does. If other's opinions do not work for me, I simply let it go--and see no point in getting upset about it. If I did get upset then that means I am recognizing their power and giving my power to them. In the setting of the Americas I do not put that much emphasis on names because "a rose by any other name is just as sweet."
I prefer the term "African Americans" for the era of the Slaves and ex-Slaves because so many of them were either directly from African or one or two generations removed and therefore under strong African Tradition influence.
Although over the next 75 years all sort of names were in vogue (e.g. "Colored), the dominant term pervading in USA history was "Negro" and historically that best designates the period following African American to 1960. In the 1960s the term "Black Americans" came into prominence and this is a term that seems historically reasonable because Ancient Africans proudly called themselves "Black People"-- that this makes it Afrocentrically correct. In addition, there has been so much gene pool mixing between Africans, Amerindians, and Europeans as well as philosophical values mixing with Amerindians and Europeans as to have created a people quite different from those of African Tradition. Other people feel differently and that is all right with me.
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