By Alex Hillsberg
Infographic authored by Alex Hillsberg and Julia Trello
This infographic is a confluence of earlier projects done on African Americans. Black History month, celebrated in February of each year, was the catalyst that brought this all together. A single “Eureka moment.” Although in reality it wasn’t a moment of crystal-clear realization but rather one of irony.
I was debating with my peers the propriety of the term “Black Americans” and passionately passionate argument was made that the term “African American” was worse. Because, he said, Blacks don’t feel the connection anymore. They’re many generations removed from their ancestors who came over to America as slaves. Additionally, the adjective “African” will always be a reminder of that origin. Not a reminder of geography but of status. A permanent brand: “descended from slaves.”
“There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!” One of us vehemently responded. “That’s the truth, it should be embraced, and Blacks should be proud that they survived the journey and thrived when they reached their destination.”
And then someone replied, “What destination?” In the land that their ancestors left there was widespread hunger, and obesity was a clear sign of affluence. In the new territories they landed in, after centuries of toiling, after bleeding and dying to be free, African Americans are now the most obese of all ethnic groups. And this, he said, is a clear sign of poverty. Because in this land of plenty the only food that African Americans have plenty of or have access to is cheap and unhealthy highly-processed fast food.
That was our “Eureka moment.” We still couldn’t agree on “African American” vs. “Black American,” but we had a story!