Legendary singer and songwriter Smokey Robinson has come under fire – at least on social media – because the icon said, “Black is a race,” and that “I resent being called African American.”

“I resent being called African American because Black people have contributed so much to the development of the United States of America,” Robinson, 82, stated during a virtual appearance on The View, which has since gone viral.

“I think that when you do that, you’re disclaiming all the things, the contributions that Black people have made to America,” he said.

The icon’s comments reflected those he made nearly two decades ago during an appearance on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry.

He recited a poem that he hoped to educate individuals about the Black experience.

While some backed the entertainer, others trolled him.

“The facts that ‘Black is a race’ and ‘African American is an ethnicity’ really whoops y’all’s asses,” Twitter user @_Elle_Spencer_ wrote in response to Robinson, calling him an “idiot.”

Twitter user @LifeDutchee, a self-described retired drug dealer, also went in on Robinson.

“A man born in the 1940s is on the internet telling people to drop the African and just call him Black American. Cause he had never been to Africa. What’s the stages of Dementia?” the social media user replied.

Others objected to the icon’s detractors.

“I understand what Smokey Robinson is explaining,” Twitter user @gracefully_Tori wrote. “I love being called Black American as well. I thought I was the only one who didn’t like to be called African American.”

Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” Robinson, Rock’ n’ Roll and Songwriters’ Hall of Fame inductee, still stuck to his guns.

“I consider myself to be a Black American, and I enjoy being called Black, and Black has been so negativized as a color down throughout history by those who wanted to negativize it,” Robinson explained, adding that contributions by Black people should be recognized similarly to their white peers.

“And so, it spilled over into the Black community and to the Black people. And even Black people back in the day calling each other Black was a sign for a fight.”

He concluded:

“I resent being called African American because Black people have contributed so much to the development of the United States of America. The wonderful Black American, who served in the armed forces and gave their lives in all the wars.

“They did not do that for Timbuktu or Capetown, or Kenya. They did that for Louisiana and Mississippi and Texas and Virginia. Okay? So that’s how I feel about it.”

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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3 Comments

  1. I do not resent the tag, African American, but, I agree with Smokey Robinson that my roots and history are rooted right here in the United States of America. I am rooted in the clay soil of rural Georgia where my parents, their parents, my great-grandparents and so on labored and dreamed. My parents as young people were among the first mass generation of Black Americans who could really participate in self-determination. They, unlike the generations before them were truly able to say to themselves that “living under the yoke and tyranny of segregation was not for them.” So, they left.

    My father saw and created a life for himself via the US Army. He fought in WWII seeing action in Italy, Ethiopia, and later in Korea. He was a Black American who bravely fought for these United States. I am Black American legacy of my parents. I have never been to Africa.

  2. I definitely agree with Smokey Robinson. Definitely because the Black Slaves built the United States of America, when they were not paid for their labor, had no education, or little education, or killed for being educated. The Black Slave women had non-consensual sex with their slave masters, the master’s sons, or another slave of the master’s choice. If you want to called the descendants of Black Slaves: African American, it would be better to call African-European Americans, or better yet, Black, because that is what Black Americans decided to name ourselves, and we never named ourselves African Americans. African American is the same as using the word “Nigger”, “Darkie”, “Coon”, “colored”, “Negro”, “African American”.

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