African American Vs Black

Hey it’s Black History, and for the next 28 days it’s going to be shoved down on your throat like sappy dramatic Miramax movie during Oscar season. Might as well start it off with a little bit of controversy and discussion.

So there’s an ongoing debate of what exactly BLACK people SHOULD be referred to as, an what they WANT to be refereed to as. On one side you have Black, which to some people simply describes the pigment of someone’s skin. Often times people who prefer this label, consider African American an incorrect term, usually projecting the idea, that their parents, nor their grand-parents, came from Africa directly and the term African-American doesn’t fit.

On the other side you have African-American, a label that embraces their heritage, and what they currently are, and for some it displays what so many people fought for during the Civil Rights Movement. Yet someone people dislike the term, but it’s carries a double standard and seems to be a catch all for so many groups of people. And of course you have people that just don’t care. Some will argue that African American is more PC, is a stronger label than Black.

I generally never refer myself as African American, I normally go by Black (even though I’m a coco brown, I kid I kid). Actually if I could have my way I would go by Black American. I’m Black and American, simple. Things are never that simple.

I never did/have/or probably never will understand all these rules about race and ethnicity. There seems to be a double standard no matter how you flip it.

Why is is that we refer to some groups by where they are from? Anyone from China, Japan, Vietnam, etc are all consider Asian, because they are located in Asia, YET, a Russian, is either considered White or Russian, yet Russia is in Asia too. Shouldn’t the same rules apply to Russians, as they do to other Asian, or even so to Africans. But see there’s a difference between Africans and Blacks/AA if you didn’t already know.

Yet for black people, it’s all comes down to skin hue. We all get grouped in the African American label, regardless if we are from Africa, Jamaica, or even places like Trinidad, or Barbados.

One of my classmates in Film School is from South Africa and she’s white. She’s actually from AFRICA and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t put African American on any form. Why not? Cause of the hue of her skin, not where she comes from..

How do feel, what do you think? What do you prefer?

If you’re aren’t B/AA how do you refer to this group of people?

How do my ____Fill in the blank____ readers feel.

Please, any and everyone feel free to comment and throw your two cents in!


21 Responses

  1. Jusitn, decent post man. Well I feeling you on the Black American thing, that’s a good label. Currently I prefer African American. It’s like you pointed out, it’s like a combination of the past, and the present. And yes many people worked hard so that we could have a better label than say Colored, and maybe even Black. But at the end fo the day it’s what you feel comfortable with.

  2. Justin-
    I am caucasian, and I have been trained to say African American, and I have an issue with that, on behalf of my friends from Haiti and Jamaica and Wyoming.

    Not all black people are from Africa. Not all white people are from Europe.

    Can’t we all just be people?

    I know it’s human nature to find ways to separate ourselves into groups that look like us or think like us or have something in common with us. But in forming groups based on outward things, and taking the easy way out, we miss the people who are like us on the inside, which is harder to discern, but ultimately, more rewarding.

    I don’t know how to fix it.

    But I know it’s at least a little broken.


  3. My oldest, when he was 3, called African-Americans/Blacks/Etc. “Chocolate People.”

    Which was cool until he tried to take a bite of one.

  4. Interesting Post,

    Like Heather said, I’ve been train to say African American. I work in Education and well you just get accusomed to saying African American.

    I was also trained by my African American friends to say that word as well. I was informed, some people get offended when they hear a white person refer to a person of color as Black, so for safety I always use African American.


  5. Heather, t
    That’s exactly one of the points I was attempting to get at. African American is more of catch all for hue color than, than say origins. Yes Heather, why cant we just all be human, people or whatever.

    Did he find the cream filling???

    Thanks for stopping by the blog. WOW :”trained” by black people to say African American, that’s interesting but I can totally see and unfortunately I can understand why they did so. I’ve seen the people who fly off when ever someone non-B/AA used the word Black. Anywho. Thanks for the comment.

  6. Black people are hollow like chocolate easter bunnies.

  7. Thanks for your post, Justin. I am white… I say that because I don’t even know or care what “Caucasian” means. I grew up in the seventies and back then “black” was considered more appropriate than “colored”.

    I think that the world had better decide whether they want this label to indicate skin color and/or hue… OR country of origin. I am sure the census people would just hate that. But seriously, once they decide this, then the whole system should be revamped so that EVERYONE has the correct label… HA what a word to use for describing a description of people.

    Personally, I’d want to be known simply as “American”. I am of Italian decent , but I am HERE now, America is my home and though, I treasure my Italian roots and traditions, to the world I want to be known as American… or if I didn’t, I’d probably want to go back to Italy so that I could more fully enjoy the authentic experience of being Italian.. and discovering long lost family members.

    Maybe people want to be connected more strongly to their ancestral homes, and detach a little bit from America because it’s not so popular to be an American now a days… and to say the least, I certainly understand why.

  8. […] Color Me… Whatever Color You Want Monday, February 4, 2008 ~ — dragonmommie Just a shout out to Justin of The justification of Justin. […]

  9. Let’s see… (pardon my all over the place answer. I just got back from the Philippines yesterday)

    I’m Filipino-American. I used to check off the box ‘Asian American’ on the ethnicity question on various survey things. But then some Asians (read: Chinese, Japanese, Korean) had issues with that. So, I also check off ‘Pacific Islander’… which, doesn’t have the suffix of -American on it, oddly enough. Because the Philippines is a group of ISLANDS in the PACIFIC. Except when people read that, they don’t think ‘Asian’. Which is what I look like.

    I identify with all. I am American. Filipina. Pacific Islander (if I wasn’t born in the States, I would have most likely been born in the Philippines anyway). Asian… not only because I look like one… but anyway. That’s not really the point now is it?

    Before, like way before. I used to say Filipino, but no one knew where that was, actually… some people still don’t know. And they ask if it’s South American/Latin American because my last name sounds more Spanish than anything else…

    My train of thought totally just escaped me. I hate labels, don’t you?

  10. whenever i enter a convo along these lines, i have to fall back on my old standard…

    “yanno, back when i was black…”

  11. I perfer the term African American. I think the author has it all reversed. Black is a catch all term for people of african descent. You don’t go over to Africa if you are from the US and start telling people that you are Black as if your the same as them. You tell them that you are African American.

  12. If you are not from Africa, or African descent, why would you want to be called African American? And if I don’t know you, do I have to ask you what your ancestory is before I address you. I do not hear B/AA calling whites ‘Caucasion’. They call us white. My skin is NOT white is a dark beige. I am not offended by white, although the term whitey is considered derogatory.

  13. Thanks Ms D. for visiting the blog.
    You bring up some good points.

  14. I would also prefer to be called a Black American. I am not African. An African American is my friend Ama (name changed :)). Her parents are African, but unlike them she is of American nationality- making her African-American.

    Labeling all blacks as African-American mars the distinction between the races. It is true that I am of African descent, but isn’t that true for all races?

    Since there’s little I can tell you about Africa, I don’t consider myself African-American. I do feel as though African American is a more “PC” term and I respect my ancestors who fought for the term during the CRM, but my preference will always be Black American- because that’s what I currently am.

  15. i think this is a very confusing matter, espically for one my age at 13. at my school i only have around 4 people who are black/ african-american. and its so confusing on what to call them. if i say black it makes me feel weird but if i say african american people might feel like they stick out. i usually just say “oh he’s black” or “shes white” but what about the asian people too. there should be an acceptable way to call people.

    ughh this is so confusing!

  16. Oops, I almost forgot the following: Besides liking the use of the term Nubian I like the term Akebu-lan. It is the original name for the continent that is known by the Greek name Africa. Here, Akebu-lan-American would include eight syllables. Yet, we can handle that, I hope.

  17. I am white, well perhaps a pale pinkish beige. (redhead) :O) To me there have been so many changes that I get uncomfortable on any situation where I have to decribe the race of a person. Reguardless of the color of their skin. The whole PC thing drives me insane!!! I think it’s silly to group anyone to a specified nationality or color. eg..White, Black, Asian, African American, Russian etc… I have a problem saying a person if “African American” when I know that their genetic line is probably as far from africa as mine is from Germany. I also have a problem saying a person is black because that is such a flat statement. I personally have only known 2 people in my life, and I’m 38 that I can honestly say is black. Of course one of them was a goofball that would go to the beach with us every weekend, lather up and lay out! LOL Had to love Derwin! And the other was from Jamaica. Everyone else varies, from caramel to light cocoa. Some honey’s and even tan. Of course I can’t say “You know the light warm honey colored guy” Even though it’s what I mean. So what do I say??? Perhaps I should do something not too many others have thought of. Perhaps I should Walk up, introduce myself and ask his name.

  18. Lisa,

    Thanks for stopping by the blog. I enjoyed your comments. “Honey Colored” LOL–

  19. Thanks for all the input.
    Like I said Lisa, I already knew her and her name, but others didn’t. I was looking for her.
    I am ‘caucasion’ but am always mistaken for ‘American Indian’, or ‘Hispanic’ because I am not ‘white’. I guess people should say ‘Olive’, ‘She’s Olive with black hair and a little overweight’!

    Thanks everyone, check ya later!:)

  20. Well, I don’t see why Americans have to say African American, when their heritage is so far removed from Africa. Why get offended if white people call you black, I would prefer it, after all white people aren’t white are they? I would say more pink/peach, and maybe we aren’t black but if it is for descriptive purposes. The majority of “African-Americans” have never been to Africa and their ancestors that came from there was from 200 years ago so aren’t they just American? The same goes for “Italian- Americans and Americans saying they are “Irish”. I am English and I would never call myself an African-English. America has an obsession with tags!

  21. Wat ever happened to the word negro? Is that considered a racist term? I have a buddy that is black from Houston. Whenever he starts talking about someone, or starts telling a story, he begins with ” this white boy, or this fuckin Mexican, or this raghead, or this chinaman and also starts with this nigger”… To identify the race of the person in the story. He uses the ” N word” all the time. But swears up and down he’s not racist cause he’s got a Mexican girlfriend. We live in El Paso and is convinced that he’s discriminated against cause he’s out numbered by Hispanics and Anglos. If he hears someone use the N word he gets soooo pissed. But he uses it all the time. If I tell him he is using racial language, he says he’s entitled to it due to 400 years of slavery….. I just don’t get it? Every race has been enslaved at one time or another. The white man didn’t invent slavery. The Egyptians enslaved the Jews and anyone else they could get their hands on 4000 years ago. Chinese, Greeks, Aztecs, Turks, Romans, all were in involved with slavery. Not to mention almost all the tribes of the “dark continent” Africa, who sold their own people to the Europeans, or anyone else who dangled some glass beads or mirrors or guns or liquor in front of them. People need to educate themselves and let it go for Christ sakes. My ancestors came from Poland and were enslave and killed by almost everyone in Europe and we’ve got volumes of joke books devoted just to us, u don’t hear us bitchin….. Ugh, ok enough. I forgot my point, but thanx for listening. Oh yeah, is negro ok to say? Its not very offensive, is it? your not gonna find a word that will satisfy everyone in the black race, they keep changing their minds on wat they wanna b called about every ten years. Maybe they should vote on it every ten years and let the rest of the world kno….. Ok that’s it for real, thanx.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: