African American History Culture : African American or Black American?

Dez K

Active Member
MEMBER
Jul 20, 2014
43
20
Okay so, I'm really young. I'm only 18. This is also my first "thread" because something got me thinking, and I wanted to discuss it with you all because it's a little confusing.

The question is: What does it mean to you to be African American? And do you prefer the term African American, Black American, or both?

I ask these questions because I need insight from other black people.
I know the term African American is supposed the equivalent to Italian American, Irish American, Mexican American, German American, etc. It makes sense, but then it doesn't make sense.

It makes sense because I know people want to have some sort of connection to Africa. What I mean by that is, every other race can trace down their cultural heritage from their grandparents or great grandparents, Japanese, Irish, English, Cherokee, Brazilian, Turkey, Pakistan, etc. But it seems as if we are the only ones that can't trace back African heritage through family members. We can only do that with genealogy tests, because, obviously all that traces back waaay too far. So it makes sense to call native born blacks African American because then we can AT LEAST say, "I know I have African heritage somewhere down the line".

This is where it DOESN'T make sense. I'll just use myself as an example:

My mother was born in America, she is black, so she is considered African American.

My father was born in Nigeria, came to the US for college, and earned citizenship 3 years ago. He is also considered African American. Not only because he is black, but because he is from Africa.

Clearly, at least to me, two completely different things with the same term.

If it were up to me, native born black Americans, with distant ties to Africa, should all just be called Black Americans. (meaning they were born in America, and they are black)

And African American should only be a term for people who were ACTUALLY born and raised in Africa regardless of race. (Africa doesn't have a race attached to it) Or 1st, 2nd, even 3rd generation people who have immediate ties to Africa through family members.

It just makes more sense that way.

I mean if a white person from Africa gained citizenship in America, shouldn't they be considered African American too?

Or if a black person from Trinidad gained citizenship in America, shouldn't they also be considered African American because they also have distant African ancestry like most of us?

It's confusing because the term itself implies that you have immediate ties to Africa from the eyes of a foreigner. When in reality, I picture an African American to be a black person who was born and raised in America, who only has African ancestry, who has never stepped foot in Africa, nor has any immediate ties to Africa by family members.

Does that make a black American automatically African American???

Someone pointed it out to me from Britain. "Why only in America, 'African American'? In Britain, we don't call most British-born blacks 'African British' just because they have African Ancestry."
I can see why she thought that, cuz it didn't make sense to me either.

And then, there's the sad fact that most of us don't even know which parts of Africa run through our vains.

I still feel like half of myself is missing because I only know that my dad is Nigerian. But what about my mom? I have no clue, neither does she.

I personally use both terms Black American and African American to describe myself because I actully have a Black American mother, and an African father.

Here's a link to an article I read to explains a black woman's reason for wanting to be called "Black American" when she made a trip to Kenya.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/...erican_why_i_prefer_to_be_called_a_black.html

Very insightful article. Made me think.

Nevertheless, what do you think? What does it mean to you?
 

SuperCerebralgal

Active Member
MEMBER
Oct 28, 2014
42
12
If it were up to me, native born black Americans, with distant ties to Africa, should all just be called Black Americans. (meaning they were born in America, and they are black)


I mean if a white person from Africa gained citizenship in America, shouldn't they be considered African American too?
I really don't understand these arguments

Why would you call yourself "Black" but not African-American? What is Black denoting??? By your avi, certainly not your actual skin tone so it must be referring to your dark-skinned ancestry, aka African ancestry.

It's a racial classification. It's really more simple than people make it out to be. I'm sure your father can relate more to the term "Nigerian-American" than he can "African-American", as most Africans who migrate from Africa to America can relate to their hyphenated specific country of origin more than the conglomerate term "African-American"

African American is a perfect way to describe the descendants of Americans whose African ethnic identities have been stolen away from them. The African in us is precious and we should want to embrace it. It has been our marker for degradation and segregation for our entire existence in America and it makes us uniquely different than all other Americans. Why would you want to be labelled then same thing as the people who oppressed half of your side?
 

Clyde C Coger Jr

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Okay so, I'm really young. I'm only 18. This is also my first "thread" because something got me thinking, and I wanted to discuss it with you all because it's a little confusing.

The question is: What does it mean to you to be African American? And do you prefer the term African American, Black American, or both?

I ask these questions because I need insight from other black people.
I know the term African American is supposed the equivalent to Italian American, Irish American, Mexican American, German American, etc. It makes sense, but then it doesn't make sense.

It makes sense because I know people want to have some sort of connection to Africa. What I mean by that is, every other race can trace down their cultural heritage from their grandparents or great grandparents, Japanese, Irish, English, Cherokee, Brazilian, Turkey, Pakistan, etc. But it seems as if we are the only ones that can't trace back African heritage through family members. We can only do that with genealogy tests, because, obviously all that traces back waaay too far. So it makes sense to call native born blacks African American because then we can AT LEAST say, "I know I have African heritage somewhere down the line".

This is where it DOESN'T make sense. I'll just use myself as an example:

My mother was born in America, she is black, so she is considered African American.

My father was born in Nigeria, came to the US for college, and earned citizenship 3 years ago. He is also considered African American. Not only because he is black, but because he is from Africa.

Clearly, at least to me, two completely different things with the same term.

If it were up to me, native born black Americans, with distant ties to Africa, should all just be called Black Americans. (meaning they were born in America, and they are black)

And African American should only be a term for people who were ACTUALLY born and raised in Africa regardless of race. (Africa doesn't have a race attached to it) Or 1st, 2nd, even 3rd generation people who have immediate ties to Africa through family members.

It just makes more sense that way.

I mean if a white person from Africa gained citizenship in America, shouldn't they be considered African American too?

Or if a black person from Trinidad gained citizenship in America, shouldn't they also be considered African American because they also have distant African ancestry like most of us?

It's confusing because the term itself implies that you have immediate ties to Africa from the eyes of a foreigner. When in reality, I picture an African American to be a black person who was born and raised in America, who only has African ancestry, who has never stepped foot in Africa, nor has any immediate ties to Africa by family members.

Does that make a black American automatically African American???

Someone pointed it out to me from Britain. "Why only in America, 'African American'? In Britain, we don't call most British-born blacks 'African British' just because they have African Ancestry."
I can see why she thought that, cuz it didn't make sense to me either.

And then, there's the sad fact that most of us don't even know which parts of Africa run through our vains.

I still feel like half of myself is missing because I only know that my dad is Nigerian. But what about my mom? I have no clue, neither does she.

I personally use both terms Black American and African American to describe myself because I actully have a Black American mother, and an African father.

Here's a link to an article I read to explains a black woman's reason for wanting to be called "Black American" when she made a trip to Kenya.

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/...erican_why_i_prefer_to_be_called_a_black.html

Very insightful article. Made me think.

Nevertheless, what do you think? What does it mean to you?



To be only 18, you have profound thoughts about race Dez K, very similar to those of Aisha Harris. Personally, I'm good with African-American since Black is understood to apply to all African-Americans.

To gain even more insight from the points of view of others, click and review the Thread below:

Are You African or African American?
Discussion in 'Black History - Culture - Panafricanism' started by Destee, Jul 21, 2003

http://destee.com/index.php?threads/are-you-african-or-african-american.15379/

...




 
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