By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
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 when he recited a poem that he hoped would 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 identified by Bob Dylan as America’s “greatest living poet,” Robinson, a Rock’ n’ Roll Hall of Fame 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.”
“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.”