Ta-Nehisi reflects on the many black Americas:

My time up in the Woods pretty much convinced me that, in many ways, I'm rootless, that "black" is important to me because I've decided to make it so, not because it's objectively true. The obvious counter is that racism forces you to accept an identity. But that's just never been true for me--I can count on one hand, and maybe three fingers, all the instances of direct racism I've experienced.

For me, "black" was always most descriptive as an ethnic identity. "Black" meant that every time I saw another black male who I knew, we always shook hands--even if we'd just seen each other yesterday. (A quick caveat--Please do not respond "Well I'm white and I do that too." Respectfully, good for you. I eat sushi. That doesn't mean that sushi isn't Japanese. "Black" does not translate into "What white people do not do.") It meant a shared way of speaking, a verbal and nonverbal language which gave me a kind of comfort.