Egyptian in America = African American?

Would Egyptians, Algerians, etc., be considered African? If an Egyptian or Algerian were in America, would he or she be considered an African American?

If not, why?


Isn’t “African American” a general term for descendants of slaves who don’t know what country their relatives are from? It would be silly to overgeneralize, using the term for a recent Egyptian or Algerian immigrant who is quite sure about his/her background (also, most Americans are familiar with those two countries, but might have trouble guessing where in the world Benin is located).

Egyptians are Africans, however they would not call themselves African-Americans becauses they would rather call themselves Egyptian-Americans. The term African-American is used for those who don’t know what part of Africa they hail from. So they just say that they’re from Africa. An Egyptian would act like an Ethiopian or a German or a Nigerian or whatever and call himself a [Blank]-American.

Egyptians and Algerians ain’t African-Americans cuz they ain’t niggers.

I don’t like the African-American term. I don’t call myself a European-American or even a German-American. This is because I was born and raised in the USA. I am not going to call someone a Mexican-American because once they leave Mexico and join the United States they are one of us. They are American; race and original origin has no bearing on how I or anyone else should treat them. To call yourself a [blank]-American is to water down your allegiance. Are you not proud of your country? If you want to be treated as a full member of society, act like one! In my opinion once you are here you are either all-American or you can go back already.

Please understand that I am not slandering racial groups here, I am flaming those who can’t decide which side of the darn line they are on.

Holy snot. Anyone wanna take bets on how long it takes for this one to go south?

Insofar as anyone is considered African. Those are countries in Africa, after all. But it is rarely useful to consider anyone to be simply an “African”, and people rarely think of themselves that way. People identify with their hometown, their ethnic group, their religion, and their country, but not so much with their whole freakin’ continent. I mean, I don’t go around calling myself a North American.


  1. Because just being in America does not make them American. The term “African-American” as it is generally used applies to natural born American citizens, not naturalized citizens and certainly not foreign visitors.

  2. Because there is almost never any reason to consider a person who happens to hail from the African continent to be just “African”, especially not if you know what country they are from or what ethnic group they belong to.

  3. Because the term “African-American” refers to a specific cultural group of black Americans.

I don’t know any Algerians, but I do know some Egyptian immigrants and their adult American-born children. They call themselves Egyptians. Other people call them Egyptians. It’s a system that seems to work well for everyone.

Without trying to seem facetious, will these Egyptian children ever be Americans?
How many generations until they fit these criteria?

(Might I suggest that we ignore Phage’s initial little addition to this discussion, use the report button, and allow the mods to point out the error of his ways rather than the board going bonkers over it…)

I suppose Phage can defend himself, too, but… might I suggest that… I read his initial sentence as something sometimes refered to by less humoristically challenged people as parody (of a racist speaking)

Phage - better start using them smilies! :smiley:

You may or may not be right, but to be on the safe side, we could just avoid the use of words such as nigger which, let’s be honest, is difficult to use in any context without causing offence.

Egyptians consider themselves Arabs rather than Africans, regardless of the fact that Egypt is a North-African Country. It’s an ethnic thing, rather than a geographic thing. Egyptians coming to the US would therefore be referred to as Arab-Americans, rather than African-Americans.

Thanks for the responses so far.

If a person were to come, say, from Ghana or Zimbabwe, would they consider themselves Ghanese-Americans or Zimbabwean-Americans? What about people of Morrocan and Somalian ethnicity who are born in US?

What I am also most interested is what the US government considers.



Well, I don’t know about the government, but to Americans black people are black first. Some people might mistakenly refer to black Africans (or other black internationals) as “African American” (in an effort to be PC), but to the everyday man on the street, a black Nigerian and a black man who’s ancestors have been in the US for hundreds of years both go in the same box. Black.

I know an Egyptian who thinks of himself as white, even though he doesn’t look very “white” to me. I suppose he can get away with this. However, if his phenotype was expressed by an African American then he would be laughed at if he called himself “white”. Furthermore, if this guy had lived in the Deep South circa 1950, he would have been made to sit in the back of the bus. Race labels do not make any logical sense, you see.

If I’m not mistaken, “African American” is never put on government forms by itself. You will generally see “black” written somewhere beside it.

However long it takes for other Americans to start asking them what they are or where they come from.

My closest Egyptian friend is, oddly enough, frequently mistaken for a Latina.

:smack: STOP asking, I meant STOP asking!

You can use the word “nigger” in GQ, but only if you have a good reason. Parody, if indeed that was your intention, isn’t a good enough reason.

And furthermore, whether you personally like the term “African-American” is not the issue. What we’re looking for is an official, semi-official, or conventional definition of the term, not your opinion of it.

moderator GQ

However long it takes for other Americans to [stop] asking them what they are or where they come from.

Which we have with regard to blacks.

*Originally posted by sqweels *

Only with blacks who are so obviously African-American in terms of both culture and physical appearance that there is no reason to ask. Foreign blacks will still get “Where are you from?”, and light-skinned “blacks” (some of whom are nearly as pale as my glow-in-the-dark self) will still get “What are you?”

Not all North Africans are Arabs or other “whites”. There are lots of black people in Egypt and throughout North Africa.