Part II, Question I: “African-American or Black? What do you prefer to be called?”

What’s in a name? Apparently, quite a bit! The most popular question I received from white people on this blog journey exploring race and culture was “African-American or Black, what do you want to be called?” and understandably so since so many have debated the legitimacy of calling black Americans “African-Americans” over the years. In order to answer this question we need to first explore the history of the term. Now I have searched high & low, deep & wide for hardcore evidence of the use of the term as far back as the 17th & 18th centuries because I have read claims of this in my research, but I have not been able to locate actual primary sources showing usage of the term. To start, there are many terms referring to persons of color considered obsolete by most, namely - Negro (still acceptable in certain contexts but not widely),colored,mulatto,mixed (still acceptable),biracial (acceptable & most current),quadroon,octoroon,quintroon and when you add other countries/languages the list goes on. Note that the term “negro” is widely acceptable & considered respectable in many Spanish speaking countries (especially on the South American continent) but it is also pronounced differently (“nay-gro” not “nee-gro”) in those places. 

I have read that the term “African-American” was used by W.E.B Dubois, the black historian, sociologist, Pan-Africanist, editor, author & civil rights activist. I have also read that it has been used by Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican-American who was a publisher, journalist, entrepreneur & orator who was a staunch proponent of the Black Nationalism & Pan-Africanism movements. In all honesty, the use of the term (especially by Marcus Garvey) makes perfect sense in my opinion, given his tireless efforts towards a massive emigration of black Americans back to Africa. Let me say this very carefully because someone is bound to tell me that I said something that I did not. I did not say that such evidence & primary sources did not exist, I said I could not locate any such primary sources using the term “African-American”in those time periods. If someone points me to such a source which I can verify & link/reference to my readers, I will happily  edit and give you the credit for locating it. I also perused some actual books on my personal shelf but could not find the term coined anywhere – that does not mean it was not used at that time in American history.

Now, let’s fast forward to the 20th century to Jesse Jackson who is in my opinion, a wannabe MLK Jr, a prominent race-baitor, a liar at times (exaggerator at best) but who has actually done some good (had to throw that in for the Jesse-ites). According to Wikipedia, he is:

“an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form Rainbow/PUSH. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is his eldest son. In an AP-AOL “Black Voices” poll in February 2006, Jackson was voted “the most important black leader”

In 1988, as Jesse Jackson made his second run for president, he publicly recommended use of the term “African-American” in order to reflect the connection of black Americans to Africa, from where most sources say our roots lie and I concur. Jesse Jackson is indeed responsible for mainstream use of the term in modern culture but it is actually a myth that the term’s origins can be traced back to him as the creator of it. There are many myths in Black history as well as American history in general and this is one of them. The term African American was coined by a black man named Dr. Johnny Duncan, whom most of you probably have not heard of. He was inspired to create the term after he read a sign which read “THE LAST FOUR LETTERS OF AMERICAN spell I-CAN” while serving in the US Army in Georgia. In 1985 while on an overseas discharge in Germany, he published his first (and to my knowledge THE first) of a series of annual Black history calendars containing his poem, “I Can” in which the debut of the term “African-American” appeared (so much for this inclusion on Jesse Jackson’s list of “achievements”).

For the record, Jesse Jackson has never said directly that he coined the term but the problem is that he has allowed so many others to think just that. To date, he has never credited Dr. Duncan’s poem, which he saw in a calendar sent by the author to Coretta Scott-King, for coining the term. Allowing others to give him false credit is equivalent to claiming the credit in my book. But hey, this is the same man who claimed to have held the dying MLK Jr, heard his last words (telling Jesse to lead the people) & had his shirt stained by his blood, which was a lie (okay “misrepresentation”for all you PC fanatics). In 1991 Jackson admitted to fathering a child out of wedlock – after praying with former first lady Hillary Clinton at the White House  after her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky (because the tabloids had gotten wind of it not voluntarily). Oh, I know the pattern of deceit is hard to see but trust me it’s there <smirking>. The term became so popular that even the US Census began using it in its data gathering. Before the use of African American, the term “black” was popular in use after the Black Power movement of the sixties, although at one time it was considered offensive, particularly, at the time when use of the term “Negro” was popular & preferred.

In Gallup polls consistently from 1991-2007 , most black people surveyed held no preference and said that it didn’t matter to them which term is used to describe them and personally I agree. Now I (keyword I) prefer the term “black” and this is because although I share DNA with Africans, culturally, I have very little in common with them & this is true for most black people in my opinion. We play football, go to prom, eat hotdogs at baseball games and participate in so many activities & rituals that are uniquely American. We are more American than African and that is why I prefer “Black-American” but I do not condemn those who prefer African-American as they want a name for themselves, from themselves to express a tie to African cultural roots. I think that is the key from that side of the argument – it’s a name a black person gave black people & some prefer to name themselves rather than utilize names that another culture has placed upon them – it is a waste of time & folly to debate this in my view. It is also folly to make a huge deal out of being called or identified by “black” if you prefer “African-American”, because the person doing so does not mean any harm nor does it have a negative connotation in & of itself.

Secondly, Africa is a continent, not a country. Unlike other racial/ethnic hyphenated names like “Irish- American” or “Kenyan-American”, African-American is quite vague – which country in Africa? It presupposes in a way that all Africans are alike which couldn’t be further from the truth. Africa is probably one of the most culturally diverse continents on the planet so if you can’t be specific about which country, I say use “black” but again, that’s just my opinion. Of course we could establish a general rule of thumb & law, that all African immigrants must distinguish themselves from black Americans by specifying which country in Africa they are from, before the hyphen (and perhaps place ____ – American on all applicable forms/documents), leaving the vague term “African-American” for black Americans only,who wish to identify their cultural heritage in a name, but is it really that serious?  It can also begin to get very confusing as well because some immigrants have personally decided to identify as “American” and are happily adapting to a productive American life, contrary to public opinions. This does not mean that they forget or distance themselves from their cultural roots nor should they. Of course these days one can find out approximately which African country their ancestors likely came from through advanced genetic genealogy testing.

Now it’s important to note that one important reason critics of the term “black” don’t like it is because “black”people are not actually physically the color black & for that matter neither are “white” people but that’s a weak criticism because they are colloquial terms – relax. Then there are others who assert that African-American is losing popularity because of the lack of historical relevance to those born in America. Furthermore, it is a confusing term – after all, wouldn’t a white African immigrant to America be an African-American? I guess Jesse Jackson didn’t think that one through. White people, even though I prefer “black” I could care less if you called me African-American and I suspect most black people could care less also, or even if they have a preference, most will lose no sleep over it if you refer to them by either term. As for me I am an American – unhyphenated, who just happens to be black. Let’s leave the hyphens to immigrants who come to America  & sweeten the melting pot with their unique cultures, which makes this country so great and distinguishes those of us who were born here. What black Americans don’t like is to be called the infamous “N” word (I’m including both pejorative words “nigger” & “nigga”) by a white person but for some reason it is still acceptable by many in the black community (younger generations mainly) if coming from another black person, as a term of endearment. Now that’s another question on my list from white Americans, so I’m moving on to the most popular question from black people to white people “Why are white Republicans afraid of black community outreach? Why are white people afraid of black neighborhoods?” – stay tuned for Part II Question II (if I didn’t break them up this would be too long!)


  1. Great. I do go by the term African American myself. But I don’t get upset when referred to as black. Sometimes in a conversation we can find ourselves shifting between the two terms.

    Also given our on genealogical finds my family from my father’s side is of Maasai descent. And former Mali royalty on my mother’s side before slavery.

  2. Chip Jones says:

    Am I a “North American American”?

  3. Daniel Taylor says:

    I can remember a time that if you called a Negro “black” it was taken as an insult, and would probably lead to a physical confrontation.It was as insulting as the pejorative “nigger”. African American is the current nomenclature favored. I am of mixed race myself: Irish predominately, British and american Indian. How then should I refer to myself? It’s a lot of hyphens if you ask me. Simply put: I am an American. My lineage goes back to, and before, the primitive origins of this country.

    • Yes Daniel I was reading about that also and there was indeed a time when the term “black” was offensive to “negroes” who preferred to be called “negroe”at the time. I don’t do hyphenations, I am an American who happens to be black.

  4. Vincent Willis says:

    Great Blog. Our daughter had a girl from south africa in her class. The girl was as white as the driven snow. They moved here when the girl was in jr high. So by all accounts she is African-american as she received her american citizenship second to her native born country.

    Im waiting for you to get to the more superficial questions. Keep up the great blogs and they are never to long. I could read your style of writing all day.

    I would also note that as a white man, I generally dont refer to color unless I need to differentiate between two people. Such as when I use a common name like Mike and someone goes which one? You know the black mike, not the white one.

    • Thanks so much Vincent & that girl was in fact, African-American & rightly so. Your complimets mean so much & are very encouraging!

    • Your last comment is very interesting because that is very true and everyone does it when they have friends with the same name of different races. I have heard black people say “white____” so that is very true.

  5. Barbara says:

    This article was so interesting. I believe that we are all American’s and it is not necessary to mention anyone’s race. I was once called by the Census, because I refused to put a country of origin. I kept trying to tell him, we are Americans. Where did your ancestors come from? Don’t know. My husbands family could be different than mine. What country would my children use? I also believe the use of the hyphenated words continue to racially divide us. Not just African-Americans, but, Cuban, Mexican, Irish, etc. Should you teach your children about the customs of your ancestors? Yes!! But teach them they are Americans first.

  6. raugaj says:

    I don’t mind calling black African-American, but I hate the way that it is so often mis-used. Too many people say African-American when describing someone when they don’t know that to be true. My nephew worked security at Target and they could not describe someone as black, only African-American. They had no way of knowing that. It makes as much sense as describing someone as French when describing them. Or Canadian, Australian, etc. If you don’t know for sure where someone is from, you should not say African-American.

  7. Angela says:

    I can understand not wanting to be called the “N” word by whites. It’s no different from when my friends call me the “B” word. I know they aren’t being insulting but someone I don’t know calling me that would cause me to wonder if even they said it in a playful tone.

  8. Mia says:

    Excellent article in this series & it doesn’t matter to me which I am called at all actually. I will be following this and I keep re-reading them lol These blogs are starting so much conversation.

  9. Joyce Tyler says:

    Another home run Talitha! you knocked it out of the ballpark & I learned some things I did not know, sharing!

  10. Jake says:

    Talitha, as usual an amazing write up. I for one, didn’t know a lot of what you say here, but was quiet interested to learn. For the other points you make, completely agree with you. We can choose whatever we like to call ourselves and if people ask me for specifics, I say, I am Ukrainian born Russian Jew who is now an American, but in reality, I am am American and that is it. I don’t know why people want to change, eliminate the racism, but are still curious to find out what it is that makes you different. I like that I was born in Ukraine. I like that I have a Russian and Jewish culture, but am an American first and foremost. Love your write up. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Bill Fox says:

    You are great Talitha , and so is Kira . As an old Marine I happen to be green . that ‘s what our drill instructors told us at Parris Island in 1964 when I was there and the south was still racially divided , not in boot camp though . I also found out that we all bleed red . We should always judge a person or a book by its’ content and not by the cover . Keep up the good work and thank You . Have a blest day Bill Fox

  12. Ed Chew says:

    Just remember why the census cares: voting blocks, pure and simple. Hispanic? No such animal…but you have a Spanish surname? Culturally not Spanish, not Mexican, etc. Too much pandering based on made up differences to get votes. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 we weren’t going to do that…couldn’t include race on employment records, then came the balancing of work forces…We should all be Americans and worry about the larger problems that face the nation.

  13. Para 1…but I have been able to locate actual primary sources showing usage of the term.

    For avoidance of confusion, you mean unable I think!

  14. Jewell S. says:

    Excellent article & I am thoroughly enjoying this series. Bravo!

  15. Michael D Cook Sr says:

    I was born in America. My heritage is American. I have brown skin, brown eyes and graying hair. I am not black or white. I have never met a white person nor have I ever met a white person. I have met many people who have higher melanin levels and that makes them look similar to me. I have met many people who have lower melanin levels and that makes them look different from me. They are Americans who were born here or have migrated here from other countries. I have met people with darker skin than mine. Some of them were born here as well and some were not. Some have become naturalized as citizens of this country. They are Americans as well. I have never met an African American. There are many, many countries on the continent of Africa. I have met people who come from England. They have brown skin like mine. I have met many people from Nigeria. They also have brown skin like mine. I have met people from South Africa who have lighter skin than mine and have blue eyes and blond hair. What is my point? That race is a human construct. It does not exist in the natural world. In the natural world there are human beings that cross many spectrum of skin color, hair color, eye color, and that it is determined by something called melanin that occurs naturally in all humans. So, call me citizen of the United States of America or call me American because that is where my heritage lies. My family history goes back more than 200 years in this country. As early as the 1800’s at least. My bloodline comes from many places. I cannot tell you what percentage of my bloodline is from Africa ow what country in Africa that some of my ancestors came from. I know that some of my ancestors also came from Ireland and from England. I don’t know them. Some of my ancestors were Native American. I don’t know them either. And you know what…it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is what I do, how I act, and how I live. That is what matters to me because that is what matters to my Creator. I will be judged for the deeds that I do in my body. I will not be judged for what my ancestors may or may not have done. The End.

    • Thanks for your comment Michael & I agree. I especially liked “My bloodline comes from many places. I cannot tell you what percentage of my bloodline is from Africa ow what country in Africa that some of my ancestors came from. I know that some of my ancestors also came from Ireland and from England. I don’t know them. Some of my ancestors were Native American. I don’t know them either. And you know what…it really doesn’t matter to me. What matters to me is what I do, how I act, and how I live.” – what’s inside of all of us as Americans and as humans matters much more than skin color or race.

  16. Everyone this is the most comprehensive list that I have seen of ALL racial slurs, not just those used to describe black people.

  17. greenchili says:

    Talitha has made a good point here. IF one were to look at whites, we have a similar problem, IF we were to use the word “Anglo” American. I couldn’t really be classified as Anglo because I’m partly French, Irish, Native-American AND who knows what else. So by the same token, we have many blacks with similar type mixed bloodlines. I had a co-worker whose roots was from Jamacia. I don’t think he would like “African American.” He has lot of white friends and we treated each other like Americans……that’s the bottom line, we are ALL Americans……some of us are brown, black, and white. By the way, the US Census call Hispanics “whites.” How do I know? My soon to be ex is Hispanic and I can guarantee you that she doesn’t look white. Again, here is another example of a race that might be called “Mexican” American. I know many Hispanics/Latinos that would be upset IF you were to call them Mexican American. Why? We have a lot of illegal immigrants from Mexico in this country and these natural born Hispanic/Latino American citizens don’t want to be connected with the illegals. I’ve heard my father-in-law refer to the illegals as “wetbacks,” the equivalent to the “n” word. It is obvious that America doesn’t just have a black and white issue………

  18. Krista says:

    This is much the same debate that goes on among Native Americans…or Indians…or The People…or the First Nations. I’ll use indian for efficiency in speach or writing. The only thing that really offends me is when others tell me when and what I should be offended by or they get offended on my behalf, as if I can’t (or won’t) defend myself. While my ancestors came from all over I self-identify as NA because that’s where my faith is as a traditionalist. If I *really* wanted to put a fine point on it I could do a full intruduction of myself but it’s a bitof a mouthfull.

    Great article! I can’t wait to see the next installment. The conversations you’ve been starting have been amazing. Thank you.

  19. Jenn HInes says:

    Hi Talitha, great series! I really love the open dialogue and the honesty. It’s so refreshing compared to what you see in the news every day. Just wanted to let you know that in Spanish the word for black is actually negro. (I’m sure you probably already knew that, though.) So I’m wondering if the origin of the term could be due to some random Spaniard’s description of an African’s skin-color which then became mainstream usage? Dunno. Anyway, great series. Thank you so much for doing this.

    • Thanks so much Jenn, I really appreciate your accolades & comments. Yes I did know the Spanish word for the color black is negro. I’m actually fluent in Spanish & love the language & culture. That is actually a part of the derivation of the label “negro”…I will post a link on that.

  20. shawn says:

    I’m curious what nomenclature is used in other countries. For instance in England, are they African-Brittish? African-European? These are terms I’ve never heard.

    Funny, I don’t even know what words to use writing this.
    I wanted to write “what are African-Americans called in other countries”, but that doesn’t seem right either.

    • Hi shawn, In the UK they do not use all of the hyphens that we do. There is slang though & if you scroll up through the comments I posted a link with all of the slang from around the world denoting race – interesting stuff!

  21. Frank Gilbert says:

    At the risk of being crucified here, I am going to speak what I feel. I hate any hyphenated handles. We are all Americans first and (should be) last. Using these terms only helps keep the divide between people open. And I thought what we wanted to do was close that racial gap. I AM An American. I happen to be hispanic by ancestry. My allegiance is to America. My culture is the American culture. A unique blend of many cultures from many nations. Lets do away with the hyphenated terms and unite as AMERICANS.

  22. gina says:

    As an old white-haired white broad with a heavy touch of Italian heritage I’ll first say, “thank you” for a delightful and informative article. Then, I’ll remind everyone that no matter what you do there will always be someone who can find a way to be offended. As a professional speaker traveling on the speaker’s circuit for a decade I once used the term “African-American” and was chastised by an audience member who preferred “Black.” A few months later, after using the term “Black” I was clobbered and told to use “African-American” as it was the politically correct term. But the best life lesson came after two back-to-back trips to Minnesota. On the first trip I mentioned “spouses” and was excoriated for my insensitivity to “life-partners.” The next week, in the SAME CITY, I made the adjustment to “significant other or life-partner” and I received a 200 word chastisement on the evaluation form where I was taught to use the words “husband, wife, or spouse” when in Minnesota “because we are not like the nutcases in California.” Just remember, wherever you go you will find someone who has the ability to find SOMETHING to be offended about. Just do your best and respect everyone equally. And… if you want to call me an “old white-haired white broad” I’m good with it! ;)

    • Hi gina! I have to tell you that you get the prize for best comment to this thread and I thank you so much for sharing! I actually re-posted your comment to my FB page (which is connected to my Twitter page) and the response was great. This is what I actually said:

      “This person gets the prize for best comment to my latest blog, “Part II Question I, African American or Black? What do you prefer to be called?” Aren’t we such a silly race – humans I mean. We just can’t get it together. Political Correctness has done so much damage to free speech IMHO”

      Wonderful commentary from you & I look forward to more!

  23. Don Loper says:

    Talitha, another wonderful expose!! It was a pleasure to read.

    Could you do me a favor? I don’t want to sound rude or offensive (I think you know me by now) in asking your opinion.

    Maybe it’s just me, but when the likes of Jessie, Al, Obama, New Black Panther (for sure) want to raise an angry crowd of supporters they tend to use “African-American” to trigger more anger? I’m not sure If I’m asking this correctly.

    May I suggest, that any predominantly say….Jewish, Italian, German, neighborhood could raise the same crowds by the same means if needed? Possibly with “We German-Americans are being targeted by policy ……” and raise an angry crowd of ________ Americans.

    Do you notice this at all? That if all is well with political types most will use “my fellow Americans” or “my fellow citizens” when they DON’T want to incite rage?

    Ok, I’ll wait for your observation. Thanks again for your excellent expose and very interesting discussions.

    • Hi Don! thanks so very much! I know what you are asking, and I will say that there are times when that is true and times when that is not. No one calls them out on it for fear of being called a racist if they are not black. If a German-American said such a thing they’d be crucified by the liberal media for sure.

  24. Catherine says:

    I would be interested in researching a pattern of nomenclature for “negro” versus “black” as most slaves (95%) during the middle passage were taken to Spanish colonies in the Caribbean and South America. The implication being that negro is the spanish word for black. There has been some research into language dispersing through channels based on country of origin of slave ships and “trade routes” (emphasis added as the term makes me physically ill) and that words such as “negro” were generally devolved from a forced and abrupt learning of new language—first Spanish then possibly English depending on the “trade routes.”

  25. Because so many have emailed & pm’d me in response to my blog “African-American or Black? What do you prefer to be called?” let me say this (can’t individually respond) Even though I prefer to be called black, I have a level of understanding for those who genuinely want to be called African-American as a connection to cultural roots & not for political correctness…etc I’m inclined to think that more black people want the connection to their heritage. Imagine the African slaves – stripped of their culture, language, religion – the American way (@the time) force fed for hundreds of years. It’s very hard for non-African descendants to understand what it is like to not be able to trace your roots past slavery or at best, get an approximation of where your ancestors came from, which is great, but in most cases, even DNA only tells us an approximation. Even then we don’t know the specific tribe or actual family line.

    Non-black people,try to understand this. I realize that some of you also don’t know your roots but not knowing because it wasn’t passed down or because you were adopted is vastly different from not knowing because an ancestor was taken from his native country & sold to another, regardless of who did the selling/kidnapping. Black people in this country are like branches cut off from a tree. Some want to express this connection through a name – so be it. As for me, I don’t like hyphens, I am American first & foremost and that is my culture. I happen to be black. Most of us in this country are of mixed heritage anyway – given the # of blacks who were able to pass as white long ago, I suspect that there are more of us that are mixed than we think or know.

    Because so many cannot trace their roots to precisely which African country they descended from they choose the broad “African-American” – I don’t agree with it, but it’s not worth it to debate that with them, it’s their prerogative. What I don’t like is black people getting upset when you are called one name when you prefer the other – get over it. Both AA & black appear on all applications & paperwork so you can’t get all upset as if both are not socially acceptable – it’s nonsense! Our time is better spent expunging the pejorative words “nigger & nigga” from the vocabulary of everyone, especially black people.

  26. Keisha says:

    I have no preference, either one is fine. I never knew the real history of African-American, great info!

  27. Martha Lee says:

    I found your blog through a friend who shared it on Facebook and I am enjoying every word of it, including the reader comments! I live in South Georgia, where people usually tend to divide themselves along racial lines, although that seems to be slowly changing.

    I, a little white girl, grew up during the more heated years of the civil rights movement, and I well remember how afraid we were of each other back then. Thankfully, I was raised by parents who did not treat someone differently because his or her skin was darker than ours was.

    We had housekeepers when I was growing up who were black, and some who were white. Color never mattered as long as they were dependable and performed the tasks they were paid to do, which really involved more babysitting than actual housework. There were three of us kids with two years between each of us, and my parents were both professionals who worked outside of the home. Our babysitter was our surrogate parent while we were in their care, and we were expected to treat her with the same respect we treated our mama and daddy.

    The first time I personally experienced racism was when I was about ten years old. Our housekeeper at that time (who happened to be black) brought her little girl, who was the same age as me, so she and I could play together. Those play days were always a treat for us both! About the middle of the afternoon, Mary and I were given permission to walk two blocks down the street to a convenience store for a soda. About halfway there, a car load of white young adults rode slowly past us shouting obscenities and racial slurs that would have caused me to get my mouth washed out with soap had they come from my mouth. They weren’t just calling her names. They were also calling me names for being with her. It made me so mad, not so much for what they called me, but for saying things that were hurtful to my friend. That was a real eye opening experience for me.

    No one can ever trivialize the atrocities were committed against the African people who were torn from their homeland and brought to the western world by slave traders. It was horrible! The movie “The Amazing Grace” will bring anyone with a heart to tears with it’s depiction of how Africans were lied to and lured onto the slave trader ships. The book, “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself” by Harriet Ann Jacobs, had me in tears most of the way through it. Though some slaves were treated well by their masters most weren’t, and those were sad times in our history.

    On the other hand, Anglo people who came to America willingly as indentured servants were also slaves in the literal sense. Many of them were treated no better than were the African slaves who were brought by force. I do not make this comparison to minimize the harsh treatment of African slaves, but only to point out that throughout history people of all races have received unjust treatment at the hands of someone more powerful. We can’t keep looking into the past and holding on to old resentments for something that we had no control over. We must stop using divisive labels to define ourselves and educate ourselves and one another on how we need to work as one people…as AMERICANS…to unite our country and move it forward. “United we stand, divided we fall.”

    Now, as for what I call someone who has dark skin, I call them American. I call myself American. I may on occasion refer to someone as being black, white, Hispanic or Asian if I should need to describe their appearance, but it would have no more or no less relevance as to who they are than if I described them as being blond, brunette or red haired. We are no different when it comes to our culture. We were born free citizens of the United States of America. My ancestors were British, Welsh, Irish and Dutch, but that was them. I have never lived in England, Wales, Ireland or Holland, nor visited either country, and I would feel offended if someone referred to me as a resident of any of them. I am proud to be American, and I am also proud that I have dark skinned friends who are also American.

  28. baldilocks says:

    I am in a unique position with respect to the “African-American”/black conundrum: my father is a black African (not a US citizen) and my mother is a black American (descendant of American slaves, white Americans and American Indians). I was born and raised in the USA–and I *do* have a legitimate birth certificate. :)

    I prefer to be called an American of a black American if one needs to be more specific. I can go with being a Luo American also; it spells out my tribal ethnicity and does not imply an allegiance to any country other than our great nation.

    Allow me to tell a story about why I dislike the term “African American.

    Dude asks the origin of my last name. I tell him: “My father is African.”

    “Oh, you mean your father is an African American.”

    “No. He never became an American citizen and he lives in Kenya.”

    “But he’s black, right? So he’s an African American.”

    I think that my point is made.

  29. Bobbi says:

    I don’t refer to myself as African-American as I prefer to myself as an American first but when in conversation that leads to racial identity for identification (such as when I meet relocation clients) it’s Black. Black is a color what is so derogatory about that? I often hear other blacks and races refer to Caucasians as “Whites”. My family on my mother’s side prefer black to African-Americans because we are an old and long established family of Jamaicans (yes we know there is an ancestry of Africa, from far back). Some islanders in the Caribbean by the way still use the term “colored people”, whereas being from the West Indies, we say black. My father’s side of the family are Italians from Northern Italy, making me 2nd generation American period. .

  30. Thanks so much for sharing my blog! :)

  31. I completely agree Bobbi! Thanks so much for your comments. I have heard people from the Caribbean say colored in recent years but not in America, in the Caribbean.

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