"There is an adage from the Xhosa people of South Africa that says “I am because we are..” One aspect of this multi-meaning truth is that one’s identity is tied to a body lager than self. The wisdom in the saying also clearly indicates that in order to understand the self, to identify the self, the group from which one emerges must have an identity as well. Herein lies the dilemma of those of us who have been called ourselves by a variety of cultural nomenclatures and derogatory epithets- Negro, nigger, Colored, Black, African, American, Afro-American, African American, Africanin American.
When our ancestors were stolen from Africa and brought to the colonies, they were faced with the same dilemma. By what name would they choose to define themselves? As they begin to create institutions they named them and by so naming them, named themselves. In the South, our ancestors enslaved named their first institution the African Baptist Church. In the North, our ancestors freed named their first institution the African Methodist Church. From the outset of our experience here our ancestors were clear as to whom they were - whether enslaved or free, we were Africans!" -Defining Black Identity In 21 Century America; By Ewuare Osayande (Excerpt from an address given by Ewuare Osayande at a panel discussion “What’s In A Name” at Temple University on November, 10, 2004)