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African-American vs. black

The term African-American was advanced in the 1980s to give Americans of African descent an equivalent of German-American, Italian-American, and so on. The term peaked in popularity during the 1990s and 2000s, but today it is often perceived as carrying a self-conscious political correctness that is unnecessary in informal contexts. In informal speech and writing, black is often preferred and is rarely considered offensive. Colored, an old term for African American people, is now considered offensive, and negro has fallen out of favor among younger black Americans.

When using the term African-American as a phrasal adjective preceding the noun it modifies (e.g., an African-American woman), be sure to include a hyphen. When the phrase functions as a noun or an adjective phrase following what it modifies, no hyphen is needed.

Examples

As of 2011, black is not an offensive term for Americans of African descent. For example, these major publications don’t hesitate to use black instead of the more politically correct African-American:

By contrast, St. Louis County, which rings the city, noted an increase in its black population of 39,000. [New York Times]

Black leaders say those in the black community understand the jobs program will benefit them. [Boston Globe]

Today Washington has a large black middle class, but when I first moved to the city in the summer of 1961, it was something else altogether. [Washington Post]

African-American has a slightly loftier tone, but it’s sometimes appropriate—for example:

The exhibition looks at how shared racial persecution shaped relationships between the Jewish instructors and African-American students. [Chicago Tribune]

As historic as Barack Obama’s claim on America’s most famous address might be, he is of course not the first African American to work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. [Sydney Morning Herald]

The novel is based on relationships between white families and their African-American maids in the segregated South of the 1960s. [USA Today]

Note the hyphenation of the phrasal adjective African-American in the first and third examples, and the nonhyphenation of the noun phrase African American in the second example.

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Comments

  1. John A. Johnson says:

    Thank you! I had no idea “colored” was offensive—in Sweden it’s completely fine to use “colored”, but we’re also moving toward “black” (In Swedish “svart”, cf. German “schwarz”).

    • Anthony says:

      Colored is not offensive. Colored now is usually to describe any race that is not Caucasian. Latino, Asian, and any other race where their skin color is usually darker.

      • White is a color too though. How is that not offensive?

        • Sheba Lamar says:

          The people who classify thrmseleves as white, are the main ones responsible for creating these terms….e.i. black, white, etccc
          Also because race is connected to economics white is at the top…maybe thats why white people dont find it offensive

          • Preach!

          • Ron Simmons says:

            Actually whites didn’t come up with term”black”. In the Song of Solomon 1: 6 mentions about a young girl called herself black. Many people before the Civil Rights period were called colored and negro, James Brown the singer was one of the first person to let people know that a person should be proud to be called black. “Google “Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud. Today there are millions of lighter-skinned blacks would tell you in a minute that they are black.

          • You are correct. I lived during that time. The normal term used by people of african decent during the early 60s was either “colored” or “Negro”. It was not until the mid to late 60s with the rise of the Black Consciousness Movement that the term ‘Black’ came into normal useage as a way we people of African decent brought up to refer to ourselves. Before that being called “Black” by anyone of any race was considered offensive and could lead to a fight. But it was, and still is, the term I use because as i said it conveys and uniqueness. We are not actually African, but we are distinct part of the greater American Melting Pot.

          • Ron Simmons says:

            as we said in the 1960’s and early 70’s, Shabal, “right on”.

          • Right. A black American is NOT an African immigrant from Nigeria for example.
            Two different histories and identities, but both black, and able to say “brother,” if they get along.
            Otherwise, it would be: African/African American, or African, Nigerian American, etc.
            Made up crap.
            “Person of color,” more inclusive. But black is right.
            And, a biracial person, or “redbone,” or creole, (from the US anyway) is NOT African.
            Black blood? Yeah.

        • I don’t know. I personally think its offensive to call whites americans and everyone else has to have a prefix in front of it. Why is this not offensive ?

          • ophelia says:

            IDK why others don’t prefix whites, but my personal thought on why whites don’t even think about it is that most whites don’t relate themselves at all with a racial/ethnic subculture or heritage. What I mean is, a white person might belong to a subculture like being “crunchy”…but not so much in being “European-American”. So I don’t think it is meant to be offensive so much as whites seem less likely to identify as having a cultural heritage that influences their home lives outside of the mainstream American culture.

            And keep in mind, my perspective on it may be wrong of course. It is no doubt changed by the fact that I am a Slavik-American whose mom is an immigrant. I do think of myself as Slavik-American when I compare myself to my peers. My father’s family has zero cultural differences from any other white family I know, but my mother’s side has plenty & then some. I even think my children will likely feel Slavik-American, as I try to keep her various traditions, stories, songs, foods, in my own home as they are near & dear to my heart. Many whites say things like “I am Irish” (my father’s side), but beyond that, they have nothing particularly “Irish” about their lives. They don’t speak Gaelic, no one they know does, they don’t have Irish songs, know Irish folk dances, etc. My husbands family tree is strongly German & the only German thing I’ve ever seen them do is make sauer kraut & sausage.

            Alternatively, I was raised to polka, to know my mother’s songs in her parent’s language, to know certain sayings from that culture, etc. And yet I have cousins from that side who weren’t & at family reunions they can’t get up & sing & dance with us. Most can, but it all depends on whether you keep the culture alive for your kids or not. I honestly wouldn’t mind if we prefixed everyone, as long as I know the right prefix to use. Mostly I think people are a-hole Americans & then the ones who at least try. ;)

          • The identification of oneself with the country one’s ancestors came from
            becomes less common and less important with each generation one is removed from immigrant days. Nowadays it is also common for people,
            white and otherwise to have ancestors from several places. Tiger Woods is
            a famous example. He once called himself a Cablinasian. ( Caucasian, Black, Indian, and Asian).

          • brady harms says:

            Why not just call everyone American, take out the labels and we reach one step closer to equality

          • Anthony says:

            Thats what I am saying. That is the prooblem.

          • karlmarxsux says:

            Equality does not exist when the government can do what the citizen can not.

          • if this happened regularly, perhaps it would be offensive.
            But many white people are referred to as Italo-Americans,
            Filipino-Americans, Irish-Americans, Russo-Americans, and so on.
            Along with my father-in-law, I consider it best to simply call
            us all simply Americans, except for the rather unusual case,
            when the distinctions matter

        • Steven Oliva says:

          If you want to get really technical, where is an achromatic color; literally “without color”.

        • Really dude?

      • I am more likely to say “people of color” rather than colored people.

      • Jon Dickman says:

        My black friends tell me they prefer “people of color” over “colored people.”

      • Ron Simmons says:

        Actually, here in America, calling someone “colored” is not only offensive but also political incorrect.

      • I think that “Colored” Is offensive to the younger generation of Black Americans. To them it harkens back to the 50s and 60s segregation days. But as a person that actually grew up during the twilight of segregation i can tell you that colored was the prefered term that black people used to refer to themselves up to the rise of the Black Conciousness Movement during the mid to late 60s

  2. An important point that’s often glossed over — and not addressed in this article at all — is that “African-American” concerns a person’s cultural and political identity, while “black” concerns only his physical description. You can tell at a glance if someone is black; you can tell at a glance neither whether he is of African descent nor an American citizen or resident.

    • amazingafrogirl says:

      “Black” is not a physical description of any human being. People simply do not come in that color. If you think they, you’re not really looking. And if you are concerned with being able to categorize someone, “at a glance,” remember that (a) many people of African descent are as pale as northern Europeans, and (b) consider if it is wise to try categorize someone “at a glance” rather than getting to know them.

      • Hi, amazingafrogirl. To address your points: (1) Whether “black” is a technically accurate description is irrelevant. Usage of “black” to describe skin color goes back decades, if not centuries, and is well understood by the general reading public. The English language uses many words in a less than literal fashion. (2) (a) That’s a very good point, and supports what I was saying about the inadequacy of the term “African American.” (b) If it is unwise to describe someone based on physical characteristics that can be taken in at a glance, we would have to discontinue using “blond,” “brown-eyed,” “tall,” “freckled,” and hundreds of other terms. That’s absurd. There are plenty of situations where it is appropriate to describe in words how someone looks without having to get to know them. The person in question may not even exist: if you’re writing a piece of fiction, you can certainly provide physical descriptions of your characters, including their skin color. Suppose you want to describe a dark-skinned person who is neither African nor American. If you object to the word “black,” what alternate adjective do you propose that will be unambiguous to the general reader?

        • The usage of black to describe skin color does go back centuries, but somehow we managed to function as a society all the other centuries none-the-less. In fact, in Brazil, people aren’t just labeled as black or white, but they are generally labeled as “mixed.” If you want to describe a dark skinned person who is neither African nor American, can you not just say dark skinned person?

          And BTW when I read books, I never think to myself “What color is the person’s skin????? I have to know!!!” There are so many descriptions of a character, I don’t get an exact description of their height, weight etc., yet I have managed. You have been taught so long to think this way, you can’t even imagine a world without this man-made social construct. It is the first thing you notice, because your society has told you so.

          • To address all of this, I would like to establish the following points
            1. I am not racist, prejudice, or discriminatory in any way, toward any race (or anything for that matter, but racist only applies to race which is why I mentioned it)
            2. I have extensive knowledge of history and current events
            3. I will not disclose my race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation or anything of the sort. You get none of that. Assume I’m the same status as you, whatever that may be, because as you can soon tell, this claims are universally applicable.
            Now to make my claims, which will be lettered.
            a. It is ok to describe someone’s physical characteristics in any way, as long as you don’t make generalized assumptions. Assumptions are okay when enough evidence presents itself. for example if I saw someone who was very tall, wearing a jersey, and holding a basketball, it would be fair to assume this person was a basketball player. I know race is an entirely different topic, with years of oppression on its shoulders, but bear with me for a bit. Now these assumptions should not be based on stereotypes or race/gender/abilities/age/etc.
            b. African American does not describe all people with dark colored skin. Should someone be from an island in the pacific, with no relation to Africa (unless you want to count that they likely traveled there from Africa millennia ago, but I think even that is negligible). People with fair skin in America are rarely called, if ever, Caucasian, *insert northern European country name here* American, or colorless. They are most commonly referred to as white. Should people of a darker complexion be referred to as anything other than something equal to their fairer skinned counterparts? I don’t believe so. Meaning, and please tell me if this offends you, for the rest of this comment, they will be referred to as black.
            Now that I have established why African American is insufficient and unequal, and that black is acceptable to replace this. Let me tell you why this even matters. Why we should need to make this distinction at all.
            c. History. Now when looking at history analytically for the purpose of gaining knowledge, it is very clear that people are willing to discriminate against anyone for anything, whether that be religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, its all been done and done again and done a few times more. Mind you, this is not ok, and I do NOT condone any of this behavior or think it was acceptable. But when we look at history, we can learn more about he present and be prepared for the future. Race, among other things, is important to point out when discussing these things because it was often among the reasons for actions (ex. slavery, the holocaust, suffrage movement, apartheid). And want to know what those things lead to (in most cases, not all I might add)? War.

            THIS HAS BEEN A PSA

          • In the fighting between the Huts and the Tutus in Rwanda and in the fighting among the Croats, Serbs, and Bosnians, the groups fighting
            don’t look much different at all even to the people involved, and in both
            cases they had common ancestry. So even when people can barely be told apart by looks distinctions can be made which lead to many deaths !

        • what alternate adjective? several, but none better.
          There are hundreds of millions of people who are quite dark-skinned
          not African, even in ancestry, and not American at all. They are found
          in southern India, New Zealand, and Polynesia.

      • Sheba Lamar says:

        Preach

  3. So now everyone needs their own descent term to show their origin, right (African-American, Italian-American, German-American, etc)? OK, to be politically correct, I would like to be labeled a German-Irish-English-Dutch-Native-American, because I have decedents of all these countries. You could just call me a white guy, or even better an AMERICAN. But since we have to be politically correct, German-Irish-English-Dutch-Native-American will be the only term that will not be offensive from this point on. Absolutely ridiculous.

    So, I guess my quesion is, what do you call someone who was born in Africa and then moved to America since African-American is already taken? Would Barack Obama be considered a Kenyan-American or does he still hold the title African-American? Just wondering. This is almost as stupid as using the term, I am a Texas-American, or New York-American.

    • michelle says:

      Africans don’t really use African in my experience with friends and acquaintances. In America we have broader categories I think to make it easier but people there go by nations, regions, tribes i.e. a Nigerian speaking to a South African may say they are Nigerian while to another Nigerian they may say they are Igbo.

      To address your major point though I don’t think you understand why African-Americans don’t use just American. A lot of things differ culturally so it is not so much a slight against “America” just pride about both sides of their culture. Nationality wise all Americans are happy to have freedom and opportunity. Culturally wise while all Americans share pop culture (foods, music, news, etc.) there are some differences when you are African-American (or even Mexican-American, Chinese-American, etc.) To name a few would be soul food, hip hop culture, social issues (gun violence is a big issue that other Americans may not be concerned with) to even products we buy (black hair requires a whole different set of things than other hair due to genetics).

      Don’t think of it as a slight or spitting in the face of America. We can all get along while being different, right?

      • brady harms says:

        We can all get along by being different, but by labeling a person a specific thing they are automatically put into a group, what im trying to say is that we have to break down these hyphenated barriers in order to truly reach equal equality

    • frankyburns says:

      I guess for some reason we need a term to refer to darker skinned people in the US. Which do you think is best, and lest offensive to anyone?

    • Maria Moncayo says:

      The President was Not born in Kenya! So he is African American. Or Black. He is also biracial.

  4. A well-educated person (from Africa) recently told me that African American was preferable to black, because black was a term given to the people by white Americans. When I asked about the source of her information, the person replied, “I read it in a book.” I asked, but the person was unable to provide a citation.
    My response was, “I was there. I had friends in the Black Panther Party. It was a time of black power and black is beautiful. The term was chosen by the Black Panther Party, not by a white American.”
    I was astonished to find that this sort of misinformation exists. To me the term is not only accurate, but respectful and powerful. I cannot imagine using any other term.
    When I hear the term African American, not only do I think of white guilt and political correctness, but I also think about how confusing and inaccurate the term is. Not all black people are African Americans, just as not all brown people are Mexicans. Of course, I’m a very light Mexican who was born in America, so what should I be called? Whatever I am called, this is my philosophy: If the person’s comment is well-meant, fine; if the person is being rude, I feel sorry for the person.)

    • Anthony says:

      Why do blacks need a citation. if that is what we prefer, then thats what we prefer

      • The African person claimed that they had read in a book that black was a term given to the people by white Americans. Maria then asked for the person to cite the book and he/she was unable to.

      • ophelia says:

        But which “we” are you referring to when you say “we prefer”? I only ask as I am not sure all people of *any* group have a singular preference. Individual preferences are easy enough to accommodate, if you are aware of that individual’s preference. I absolutely would say, “Anthony is African-American” if I know Anthony refers to himself that way or prefers to be referenced in that way.

        The hard part of ANY “title” is this. I am of the mindset that once I am grown, referring to me as a girl is not preferred. Yet, people do it all.the.time. The last time I recall being referred to as a girl professionally, I was in an upper management position (something in prior years i thought for sure would get “girl” dropped from describing me) & actually referred to as the “cute little girl that used to do the permits”. Cute.little.girl. Ugh. I was almost 40 yrs old. I am petite, no doubt, but twice over not a “little girl”. The worst part? Men usually seem to think they are flattering me when they say it. And then…I know women my age who like it and others who could care less. I also know plenty who feel like me & cringe when they hear it. I cannot though, tell you, when speaking of any other woman, whether or not that woman will or won’t be bothered if you refer to her as a girl. And in fact, some *will* enjoy it.

        I grew up & my years are something I am proud of. I don’t want to *be* a girl. I like being a woman. Overall I think that 95% of the time it is used, no one likely means to insult….at least as far as i know. They just don’t realize it isn’t universally loved. Sometimes I go ahead & let them know, most times I make myself brush it off when I am certain it was not meant in harm, as I am sure I will not change the way people reference adult women nor do I think all adult women want me to.

        • I cringed a bit when I heard that phrase, but I am glad that you don’t adopt a policy of always or often attacking at the use of the phrase or others like it.
          Life is too short for that. Sometimes, especially in the first person, ‘girl’
          and even ‘boy’ is better than man or woman. And quite often, in the second person, a phrase begun with ‘girl said a certain way can be humorous, threatening, or even admiring.
          It’s complicated. I’m just that kind of boy.

    • Alexander Ash says:

      I am kind of annoyed at the people who say “race” is a political tool used by whites to make others feel inferior or whatever. I really don’t think it is considering how race is what it is…race. I have never ever found it to be offensive to call someone with white skin, “White”. Therefore, I make the connection to other races as well. There should be no reason that any other color should offend anyone as long as said color is an accurate description.

      • You should look up the definition of the word black and the word white and then you will understand why some people don’t like being labeled. BTW there is no such thing as race from a scientific standpoint.

        • Your last sentence is, I believe, defensible, if one refers to how much DNA
          is shared among populations. On the other hand, more often than not
          ( but not always) people can agree easily about what race one can assign someone to, if the light is good – I think. In the end I do believe that there is
          no real scientific validation of how we use the word ‘race.’

      • Karen Reed says:

        Considering Africans misplaced in America come in ALL shades, from very light to very dark, black wouldnt even be an accurate description.

        • OK you are, I suppose, right. But adding qualifiers such as light-skinned black might rescue the descriptive term, maybe not.
          An additional point in favor of what you say is that many people from
          southern India, Polynesia, and some other places are as black as
          most sub-Saharan Africans, if not darker. They can be distinguished from
          each other by other visual features, I think. Indians, even the darkest, look in some ways more like those of European ancestry than like those of sub-Saharan African ancestry, I think- not that such things matter all that much.

      • I think that you are 90 % or more right, but ” therefore I make the connection to other races as well” is ok, I guess, unless specifically disavowed by someone, in which case, ordinarily, one ought to respect someone’s wishes as to how he is to
        be referred to.

  5. Warlock Asylum says:

    African-American is an offensive term in my opinion. It’s no different than using the n-word.

    • Then you are downright ignorant to see it that way.

    • IMO there is nothing wrong with African-American as long as you are both African and American or identify as such. Otherwise it is problematic.

    • In your opinion. Most people see things differently than you do.
      I am not sure that such differences can be resolved by any reasoning or
      facts. People just see things differently. As far as ” the n-word”
      I don’t much care for that evasion. In direct quotations and such, one ought not to
      change or bowdlerize what is said. It seems to me a bit too cute to use
      terms such as the ‘f-word’ or ‘c-word’ and so on. Of course in writing one can
      use &^%$# to replace some letters.

  6. Jerry Powell says:

    To note An African American can be white, that term is very inacurate, there are many white Africans on that continant, so techincally a white person could call them selves African American as much as a person of color. Very dumb satement we are Americans

    • Karen Reed says:

      They would most likely call themselves the country they are from. Like if they lived in Kenya, they would say Kenyan American. African American was a tern created for people who do not know their direct lineage.

    • You are right, of course, but there are not very many African Americans who are white.
      It is more that there are millions of Africans who are white, not only in citizenship or
      residence, but also in ancestry with their ancestors for many generations living in Africa.
      This is especially true in South Africa.

  7. Dmitrey Pease says:

    America should stop with all this “political correctness” crap. In Russia saying the N word is what you call black people. Nothing offensive about it.

  8. David Greenaway says:

    Does this mean that we should say Middle-Eastern American instead of Jew?

  9. i am mixed race. I call myself mixed race. I can’t understand why coloured is suddenly offensive now. To be honest I get sick of having to keep up with the latest acceptable words to call myself when white seems to have sufficed for Caucasians for years without upset. If I have trouble keeping up, then I feel sorry for those not of colour, because they must be having a hard time.

    To me, words like black, colour, brown, mixed – ie, descriptive, non-slang words are not offensive to me and never will be.
    What is offensive is calling someone something they are not. Calling me asian, or black is offensive to me – because I am neither of those things. Assuming you know more about my ethnicity or race than I do is offensive to me. Pointing out my colour when there is no real need or reason behind it is offensive to me. Calling someone names or using their looks to degrade them is offensive. But words, descriptive words without any harmful intent behind them – what’s the point of banning them – labeling them offensive because a few people said it was. I get there is a history behind ‘coloured’ – but sooner or later we are going to have to draw the line between word and intent. The intent was wrong, not the word.

    • ophelia says:

      I have always thought the term black was a term of equality, from a white person’s
      perspective. If I am referring to myself as white…then to me, it has felt EQUAL to think of
      African American’s as black. I know that logically I do not have “white
      skin”, in fact I am rather olive with very dark hair & have been at times mistaken as
      being light skinned Indian because I worked in an area with lots of
      people from India. I wasn’t offended. It was usually Indian people who thought I was Indian. Calling me
      “white” isn’t a description of skin color accuracy as much as it is a
      social group. And as far as social group is, it would be accurate. I
      am seen, by others, as white usually.

      • I get what you mean, ophelia – I wouldn’t be offended by being mistakenly considered a different race – what I dislike is being outright called a different race when that is not the case, I have come across people who have stated that I am a black african because of whatever historical reason they come up with. That is offensive to me. And I understand the lack of accuracy with regards to white and black, but whenever I use these words it’s usually with regard to what the person looks like (ie descriptive) not where they are from or social group. That’s how I use the words the majority of the time in any case – the rest of the time I rarely use the words at all – but I can understand that your point of view is different to mine.

    • I love what you write. But in this country the letter ‘u’ is very rarely used
      in words such as honor, color, or humor. Not that there is anything wrong with it.

  10. gseattle says:

    Each time, the newest politically-correct term gradually becomes one with the sad reality that many in that group tend to be in dire straits and acting in desperation, whereupon the latest term is then called derisive and has to be changed again.

    It will be different when we begin to address the root of the problem, when their assumed “leaders” start imploring them to study, work hard, improve and behave themselves, visualize a worthy goal and pursue that. Currently they are instead being encouraged to see themselves as victims who can only supposedly succeed if it is handed to them.

    When black/brown by whatever term is no more significant than blond or redhead, we’re there.

    We all came from the same spirit pool before this human body gig.

    I, for one, didn’t have the guts to be of the black-skin persuasion this time around so my respects to those of you who are, God love ya (if you are behaving yourself).

  11. brady harms says:

    Why is african american politically correct when an individual may be 20 generations out but im 3 generations out of Germany but am referred to as simply american, why are african americans not just americans

  12. Hello. I am 55. So I was born and lived thru the Civil Right Movement, the Black Consciousness Movement

    and all of the other phases of the 60s,70, and 80.

    I personally do not use the term “African-American” for one reason. I AM FROM NEW YORK CITY BORN AND BRED.

    I am not african, yes I am my ancestors are of african decent. But we have more in common with the average

    caucasian american than we do with present day natives from the continent of Africa.

    Every other immigrant group that came to this country did so by choice ( No I am not going to debate the right or wrong

    or morality of slavery, that is a whole other discussion). My point is that those immigrant people chose what parts of

    their culture,language and values they wanted to keep and what parts they wanted to give up in order to fit into the

    greater American society.

    My ancestors did not not have that choice. Their culture was forcibly taken from them. So over the course of 500 year we,

    their descendants, have developed a unique culture of our own that really is not very related to present day African

    cultures. So to call us African-American is really a misnomer.I prefer Black American for the reason that it connotates

    a uniqueness and still connects us to the greater American Society.

    • Thank you. Some people can not so much disagree with what you say, but, I imagine,
      see things differently about themselves. That is fine. But I ma not only interested in
      what you say about how you view yourself. I am also interested in how what you write can inform all of us about not forgetting our terrible history, and not letting today be over-complicated or falsified. Great post, I think. I think that some of what you write is simply
      true, and other parts are neither true nor false but simply the way you choose to look at
      things, including yourself. And the choices you make are not applicable to many
      and would not be chosen by others, but are nevertheless interesting and useful guides.

  13. I am a first generation ‘White-African’ and call myself African. If the prefix ‘Coloured’ is offensive to Blacks then what do you call someone who is of mixed race, such as the proudly South African Coloureds who are mixed from a broad band of ethnic origins, African of all hues,, Asian of all hues and areas, and European from all areas. Far too much is made of skin colour when in reality it is the person under that skin that counts, not their colour, be it jet black through to albino and every shade inbetween

  14. West Northwood says:

    Based on Grammar a People cant be a color. Color would the adjective that describes the noun i.e person. Colored is any “thing” painted or dye. Black is devoid of light. No human is any of these descriptions. African – American is also false since one cannot be 2 Continents. Notice all other hyphenate groups are described by there NATION except the so-called, negro, black, colored or American-American. WHY? What is your Nationality is the question. Negro, black, colored or African-American are all “Marks” “Labels” “Brands” that they are called (Exonym). Names are extremely important. Any name called other than your own is offensive.

    • ” Based on Grammar a People cant be a color.”
      I am not sure what you mean in this sentence and in several others. I suspect
      that you are not quite sure either. But I will guess that you mean that a person is not described by a color, but a color adjective can describe the person. There is little based on grammar about that. As far as black Americans not using their country of origin
      in self-description, please do not embarrass yourself. Most black people living in
      this country with African ancestors 1) don’t know what country their ancestors came from;
      may have ancestors from several countries; and 3) the international boundaries describing
      countries in Africa had not then been drawn in the way they are now. Most of the current fifty four or so African countries did not exist even one hundred and fifty years ago.
      Some did. Egypt, Ethiopia, Algeria, maybe Sudan. But not many. Some European
      countries including Germany and Italy did not exist two hundred years ago either.

  15. Naomi C. Daniels says:

    It is 2015, and myself as an African-American, I DISLIKE being called black, colored, or negro. I would like to be called African-American because I speak proper English, and we are different among other African cultures. I do not associate myself in modern day with the continent of Africa, as I was born on American soil. I have two generations of family that served in the U.S. Military, to be called a color; black, is belittling to me as colored and negro is. I don’t call Caucasian people white, because lot’s of other races are also this color even some Albino African-American’s.

    • Hi Naomi. I respect your opinion, but a practical problem with using the term ‘African American’ is that it makes a lot of presumptions about people which aren’t necessarily true. Not all African people are ‘black’ and not all ‘black’ people are of direct African descent/culture. I’ve been described as being ‘African American’ whilst in the U.S., except that I’m from Britain. My ancestory is English /Caribbean. I am British, and I also happen to be black. I am not even remotely African, although I had a nice holiday in Kenya a few years ago.

    • You write clearly and persuasively and, I sense a very appropriate pride in yourself.
      It may be that many people who may look a affair amount like you ( very vague, I know, but I am not sure I can do any better) may make different choices. You do seem to
      want to pay attention to reality, which is an attitude which I want to imitate.

  16. All of this color stuff is just dumb. So many people’s color doesn’t even mthough their description. It is idiotic.

  17. karlmarxsux says:

    Sorry I don’t subscribe to what alleged black leaders say or do.So let me get this straight.There are a bunch of black dudes sitting in their million dollar mansions deciding who can say what ? Sounds like the Catholic church to me.It’s funny how a supposedly colorblind group is so concerned about what they are called by others.I will immediately put in a call to my leader and request I’m called a” bandaid” skinned American.

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