Is it blacks or African Americans?

Which one is politically correct? I have been getting mixed opinions.

“Black people” just does not sound so good, but my history professor insists that saying blacks is politically correct right now. Which one is it?

In the US, “African American” is considered more politically correct, though sometimes it’s misused, and some people of African descent prefer the term ‘black’ in my experience. Not all blacks are African American, and technically, not all African Americans are black, though I’ve never heard a white South African immigrant called an African American.

What’s really funny is listening to some Americans over here in Germany. “I’m surprised how few African Americans live in Germany.” :smack: Never occurs to them, they’d be “African Germans” if anything.

Yes, a number of real-life incidents have served to reveal the impracticality of the term “African-American”.

The one that comes to mind is the time a few years ago when a young boy visiting from Nigeria was lost in LA for an afternoon (IIRC, he was found unharmed).

A local newscast, encouraging viewers to keep an eye out for him, said: “The boy is described as African-American, …”

Um, no, nothing American about him!

That’s odd timing for this thread. I moderate a political debate board and we’ve got a poster who has just recently been claiming that “african-american” isn’t the correct term and that it’s going to be a major political issue in two years to change it to “afrimerican”. He even has a website: (Grain of salt with this one).

Having grown up in the 50’s, I have seen the “politically correct” terminology change several times, from “Negro” to “Colored” to “Black” to “African-American,” etc. In recent years, it seems like Black and African-American are both used widely, and there doesn’t even seem to be a consensus among the Black/African-American communty as to which they prefer.

Whenever I hear this debate I’m reminded of a newspaper story I saw once where the editor’s automatic PC checker had obviously gone amok. The article contained a line that “the chairman stated that the budget is now in the African-American.”

I’ll one-up you… I remember a TV Guide articles about the then-upcoming show Star Trek Voyager, which featured the Starfleet’s first “African-American Vulcan.”

Seems to me there’s a better quibble with the OP. Political correctness, in my view, has nothing to do with the imposition of judgment about the appropriateness of various terms by some impartial body. Rather, it’s about listening to the wishes of the individual in question. Joe wants to be called black; Jeff wants to be called African-American; and neither individual’s opinion has any bearing on the preferred term for the other. For the professor to insist that a given term is PC is rather silly, to me.

For what it’s worth, in John Brunner’s classic SF novel (now decades old) Stand on Zanzibar, a lead character who is black calls himself an “Afram.”

You forgot Afro-American. That one didn’t last very long, IIRC.

I notice that you’ll see both “Black” and “African Ameican” in newspapers, sometimes in the same article.

In my experience, the people I’ve known who would be described by these terms usually prefer “black.” “African-American” seems to be used primarily by people like politicians and news reporters.

I lose a year off my life every time I read about Bert Williams, “the first African-American star on Broadway.”

(He was born in the British West Indies and was thus neither African nor American)

Yup, my friend was born in Jamaica and moved here about 5 years ago. I invited him to our Thanksgiving dinner last year, and my grandfather was trying so hard to be PC - he’d grown up using the term “coloured” but wasn’t sure if that was okay anymore. So, at one point, my grandpa and I are standing in the kitchen, and he’s asking about the terms African-American and black. So I kinda had to pause for a minute and try and remember which Sam used until it dawned on me - there’s nothing American about him! I asked Sam later which he preferred - he said “Sam” worked for him. I’ve never heard anyone use the term African Canadians, though I think I’ve seen Afro-Canadians used in a newspaper.

I know my American History textbook suggests African-American is a term that only applies to descendants of slaves brought here. So a person who’d moved her two years ago from Africa would be “black”, not AA. But my textbook has been proven inaccurate before, so there’s that.

For what it’s worth, British PC terms, defined as those which people are happy to use in self-identification, include “Black British”, “African-Caribbean” (a large proportion of the black population coming from former Caribbean colonies), and quite simply “British” - the option to identify only by nationality is seen as an important option, one that should be neither enforced nor excluded. Of course, other options such as “Black African” and “Black Other” (which would perhaps include African-Americans? :smiley: ) are also not uncommon.

Well, they didn’t want to infringe on this guy.

During the O. J. Simpson trial one of the prosecutors kept saying that tests on some of the blood evidence showed that it came from an ‘African-American’. I still haven’t figured out exactly what blood-factors can tell you the nationality of the donor.

A friend is in a class called ‘Affirming Cultural Diversity’ (yes, in California…how did you guess?). At least one person in the class insists on being called ‘Black’ and one other says that that is a racist term. I’d like to know how I’m expected to know what to say as to offend no-one.

I’ve decided to change the name you must use to describe my race in my presence. It’s ‘Loretta’. Henceforth, anyone who calls anyone of my race anything other than ‘Loretta’ in front of me is a racist!

The one time I actually saw a poll on the subject (back in college), something like 75% of respondents preferred to be called ‘black’. (Wish I could find a cite, but it’s been too long.) I thought that the PC condescension in deciding on behalf of blacks that they should be called African-American was far more offensive than calling blacks the wrong thing ever could be.

While I don’t have a cite or a poll, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s much more comfortable and amicable in my life to just use the term ‘black’. I’ve met an awful lot of people who disdain the term ‘African American’. IMHO, it’s downright condescending to use the term. FWIW though, I grew up in the north but have lived in the south of the US for my entire adult life. If my friend refers to me as the stocky ‘white’ guy…well…heck…he’s the lanky ‘black’ guy. :wink:

Hell, in fact, who’s to say that all black folks here are from Africa? That’s demeaning…it’d be like me taking a trip to India and the locals calling me the ‘German White Guy’. Dang, how about this…we just call folks by names. I realize that the color of skin can be an easy determining factor when you have to explain someone’s appearance…so let’s just use it as the last resort! :slight_smile:

I feel the same way about it myself. If you were born in this country, and your parents were born in this country, then you’re just an american. Sorry, you don’t get to be a hyphenated-american, you’re one of us whether you like it or not. That’s the consensus my roommate (black, from the south) and I (white, from the midwest) came to a couple years ago.

However, his daughter does get to call herself chinese-american, since her mother is an immigrant.

So lets say I am giving a speech about African Americans to a group of black people. What term should I use?

“All yous guys?”

So, met this cute girl in one of my classes at the uni here, fair skin, long brown hair, brown eyes, and one of those British accents that tends to leave me uncomfortably wrapped around a girl’s little finger. I commented on her British accent and she got offended because it WASN’T a British accent, it was South African accent. You see, they’re TOTALLY different (yet rather indistinguishable to unrefined Texan ears) :smiley:

I heard about a kid a few years back who was suspended for insisting on competing for some African-American Student of the Year competition at his school. Basically, the student body would vote for who they thought was the best African-American student at the school, and the competing students could campaign with their reasons why they should be voted for (academics, extracurricular activities, that sort of thing). This fellow got in trouble because despite being African-American (both of his parents were from Africa, and he was born in the US after they immigrated), he was white :smack: . Apparantly caused something of a ruckus after most of the student body did indeed vote for him. :rolleyes:

Don’t feel so bad. A kid I’ve been teaching for three months told me this week she’s going away for a month at Christmas. I asked her where she was going, and she said ‘back to South Africa’. At which point I though "oh yeah, you do have a S African accent, don’t you! :smack: "