I referred to Elon Musk as African American and Twitter went crazy.

When I shared the tweet I knew I was stirring the pot but I didn’t expect to have such stark differences in the reactions of people. In fact I more expected that the White population of Twitter would be coming for my head for even making the comparison but surprisingly a majority of the retweets, likes, and comments in support of the statement came from White people while the very aggressive opposition came from Black people.

The entire statement was “Someone asked me what it means to be Black and why I choose to use the term Black vs. African American. Answer: Elon Musk is African American”

I certainly have a provocative style of creating engagement and my intent in making the statement was to instigate thought around the labels we (Black people) attach ourselves to and the way those labels can be coopted to our detriment. My statement is not untrue however many Black people seem to be more upset with the fact that I made reference to Elon Musk being able to identify as African American than my decision to identify as Black over African American (which still received it’s fair share of opposition).

Of course understanding the pride and connotations that come with identifying as African American above all else is something I understand, but does that then mean all “Black people” in the United States of America are known as African American? How does one know the difference between a Black person with generational American lineage through slavery or otherwise and someone who recently immigrated from a country like Nigeria or Ghana? Aren’t they too technically “African American”? What makes them more African American than Elon Musk who was born on the African continent in the country of South Africa?

If then a grant or scholarship or some other monetary award (like reparations) opened up for “African American’s” who then would be eligible? Would it be the legacy Black people who embrace the term with vigor? The African immigrant to America? Any person of Caribbean descent who’s lumped into the category of a politically correct way to say Black people? The White African who has no claim to the culture, obstacles, and struggle of Blackness in America and/or on the continent of Africa but can claim the nationality because…well that’s how nationality works?

One thing I do know is this, Elon Musk can never get away with referring to himself as Black on paper or otherwise. Additionally, the difference between race, nationality, and ethnicity still have my people in a choke hold.



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Rahkim Sabree

Rahkim Sabree

I’m an author/columnist, speaker, & coach. I’ve written for some of your favorite publications and decided why not start my own. All social media @rahkimsabree