Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Black versus African American

Ok so I've come across numerous posts on my Babycenter message boards and various other message boards about Black versus African American. Pretty much people are trying to decide which is "better" to use. The general consensus is most non-blacks choose to use African American to be politically correct while most blacks just use black. As you can see, I'm one of the ones who uses black.

The whole issue started in 1988 when Jesse Jackson encouraged people to use African American in place of black to acknowledge our ties to Africa. Nowadays, that purpose has pretty much been proven useless. For the most part I see either non-blacks using it to not offend blacks, or the high-and-mighty blacks using it because they feel they are too good to be called black.

Through my own personal experience I've seen that most blacks don't care either way which one you call them as long as you don't call them a nigger (then all bets are off). I put myself in that category. When you address my race, I don't care whether you say black or African American. Just know that if you ask me, I will tell you that I am black or black American.

Some people wonder why there is a discrepancy in what I will let you "label" me and what I label myself. The answer to that is simple. If you don't know me, you are basing your assumptions of my race on what you see. I would expect you to have the decency to ask me before calling me something, but I realize that may be asking a bit much of some people. I am currently working on researching my family history. I have traced my family back four generations and they are still in America. Therefore I am black American and not African American. I know that way back when my ancestors may have originated in Africa, but I have no immediate or recent generational ties to Africa, therefore I do not claim it. I know of many African Americans, especially living in Greensboro, who qualify to be called that. They were either born in Africa and moved to America, or their parents were born in Africa and they were born here in America.

I personally don't care what other blacks choose to do or go by, but I know what my choices are. When my son is born, I will teach him that he is black American and not African American. Of course I will have to teach him the difference, IMO, between the two. I will also have to let him know that when he goes out into the world he will hear both and be called both. Whenever he gets old enough to make a decision, he can choose which he prefers to go by. Until then, we are black Americans.

What do you choose to go by and teach your kids that they are? If you are not black/African American, what do you call us?


  1. Say it loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud, LOL!!! I go by black, we can drop the African part people it's 2010!!

  2. I don't go around calling "white" people "Caucasian" so, being called "black" instead of "African American" is perfectly fine with me.

    Saying "African American" or "Caucasian" just doesn't seem to roll off the tongue naturally.

    Great post!

  3. @Kenya I agree. It just seems forced when you say African American or Caucasian. Like you had to actually think about it before you said it.

  4. I go by black because African American has too many syllables!

    I'm a new blogger too, I wanted to email you but I don't see your email address on your blog anywhere. Am I overlooking it?

  5. @Nicki Thanks for visiting my blog. I agree with too many syllables. It's just too much work to say African American or Caucasian.

    Sorry about not being able to find my email address. I just re-did the layout and I completely forgot to put my contact info back on here.

    I'll be sure to check out your blog and follow you.