"African Americans"

I’m taking a course in multiculturalism, and one of our assignments is to take a survey on how people define the term “African American.” I thought I’d give the question to the dopers and see what you thought. How do you define “African American”?

A politically correct way of saying “black.”

"Calling me an African Ameican,
Like everything is fair again…

Devil, don’t believe the hype, I’m black…"

-Ice Cube

Yer pal,

An American born person whose ancestors were born in Africa, or who has become a naturalized citizen of the US. Thus, Dave Matthews of the Dave Matthews Band is an African American (he was born in South Africa).

For the literal term, either:[ul][li]an immigrant from Africa, who becomes an American (US) citizen[/li][li]an African immigrant’s children[/ul][/li]but no further than that. After that, an immigrant’s grandchildren and beyond could say they’re “of African descent”.

A question back: my quarter-sister and her husband were missionaries in the former Zaire. At least one of their sons was born there. Are my nephews American-Africans?

Slightly related to the topic, the other day, my college (well, former, I am now an alumni) newspaper referred to Nelson Mandela as African-American. Either they have no clue about where he lives, or they just assume all black people want to fit into that niche.

Well, shut my mouth. It’s also illegal to put squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling.

If I really had to answer, I’d ditto Guy Propski.

But I’d much prefer to say that the question is invalid, because it is out of context. You want the definition of “African American” in regard to what?

In regard to the medical conditions which such people are prone to, you’d want one definition. In regard to racial victimization, you’d want another definition. And in regard to likely air travel destinations, you’d want a third.

The question is not phrased properly.


The question is pretty straight-forward. You’re reading too far into it.

yes, wiggum, i realize that. my point is that i don’t like labelling people so arbitrarily. but i am realistic enough to know that people are going to make such classifications, which is why i began my post by agreeing with Guy Propski.

I define “African-American” as blacks who were born in the US.

I don’t consider black immigrants from Africa as “African-Americans,” but that’s just my definition.

Well, that’s what I define it. But I never use the term. I just say “black.”


I’m sorry if you thought I was asking you to label someone. I don’t like to do that either. I merely wanted to know what that specific label meant to the masses.

Here’s an issue where I agree with Spider Robinson. It’s a shame that the word “colored”, became derogatory. It sounds so positive to those of us who don’t remember it being used in a negative way.

I rarely use the phrase “African American”. Mostly I use it when referring to specific blacks who have expressed to me their desire to be referred to that way. Because of the sort of people who have expressed this desire, for me it means, “a pretentious black person who likes to portray themselves as exotic.”

Anyone else hate the “oriental” to “asian” switch that has happened recently? Trying to base your race name on a land mass the size of asia doesn’t make sense to me. I have a feeling that this shift has been put forth mostly by women who are offended by being called “ornamentals”. I have some other choice names for them. :slight_smile:

If men had wings,
and bore black feathers,
few of them would be clever enough to be crows.

  • Rev. Henry Ward Beecher

I go with the most common way the term is used in the USA, i.e.
“black persons living in the United States”.

J’ai assez vécu pour voir que différence engendre haine.

A black citizen of the U.S. with an affinity for Jesse Jackson or one having spent too much time watching TV news or taking too many LibArts courses in college.

Nothing wrong with the term, but I find that it is used far more often by whites trying not to offend than by blacks.


Two of my best friends were born and raised in, respectively, Korea and Indonesia. Neither of them have any opinion on the “Asian” vs. “Oriental” issue. They both say Europeans and Americans are the White Devil, so anything we say is fairly irrelevant to them.

“Anyone else hate the “oriental” to “asian” switch that has happened recently? Trying to base your race name on a land mass the size of asia doesn’t make sense to me.”

And basing it on Europeans’ egocentric sense of direction does make sense?

The problem with our race names (other than the fact that we need them at all) is that they weren’t consistent–some people were identified by skin color while others were identified by place of origin. At least Asian and African American makes the names more consistent with Caucasian, Hispanic, etc. I suppose if we used White, Black, Red, Yellow and Brown that would be consistent, too. Except that most people are more or less Brown.

There’s and idea. The next time I’m asked what race I am I’m going to write Pinkish Brown.

I with you. I’m gonna say “The hundred Yard Dash.”

Um, the roots of “oriental” means “east.” What scant info we have on “Asia” implies that its roots also mean “east.”

Most black immigrants do not think of themselves as “African American”, they think of themselves in terms of their nationality, i.e. Kenyan-American or Liberian-American. It’s my experience that hypersensitive blacks are the only ones that use this term for themselves. It’s far mor common for whites to use the term to try to appear politically correct.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

But since Olduvai is in Africa–aren’t we all “African-Americans?”