I was having a discussion with my classes about race and some of the biology / sociology / evolution / genetics type stuff around it. One of my students told me that she felt that if someone calls her "African American" that they are going out of their way to not sound racist. She very much preferred to be called "Black." All the other students agreed that this was the way the teenage generation felt. I was in high school in the 90's and was taught that African American was correct, and Black was o.k. but not preferable. So when everyone agreed on "Black," I found it a bit surprising even if the explanation makes complete sense to me.

Her point was, "Why should Africa even be mentioned? My ancestors got here before most white folks' [ancestors]." I thought that was a good point. After all, when's the last time you heard someone called "European American?" Most of my family got here post-civil war and my grandma came from Europe around 1920...that's WAY after this student's family who all descended from slaves (she was pretty sure).

I also have a friend from Haiti who is Black and absolutely prefers to leave Africa out of it because it is so far back in her ancestry. "I'm Haitian, not African. Even if my ancestors were from there, it was a very long time ago."

So what have you heard? Who did you hear it from? If you're Black/African American...what do you prefer and why? Is this a new development, or am I behind the times? Inquiring white guys want to know.

Tags: African, American, Black

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Talking to some kids who just graduated high school on this very topic not long ago. Their comment was that their black friends preferred "black" as well. And for similar reasons. One of them commented, "we don't refer to people as German-American, French-America, Irish-America, etc. So why use African-American?" So maybe it is a change in generation thing.

I have to admit I agree with that logic.
If we are called white, which is a debatable colour, why not be called 'Black . I have numerous black friends who agree.
One point I would like to make is dont we all originate from Africa. It is just when humans moved from hot areas did the colour of skin change.
I come from London so should I be called a 'White Londoner'. Dont think so.
The World is confusing enough without being more confused.
Anyway I believe that black is beautiful.
The 'proper' term (aka, politically correct and socially polite) has changed numerous times, and is probably changing again.

When I posed this question to friends of mine who are black, they were unanimous in declaring themselves 'black'.

I always answer 'human' when asked in surveys.
I think it's really only applicable to first-generation immigrants (i.e. some of my Chinese classmates are "Chinese-Canadian" because they were born in China and then moved to Canada). I call my mother a British-Canadian all time, as she has several very obvious cultural quirks, like the fact that she always has 4 o'clock tea on the weekends.

I've always just tried to avoid calling people by race but to my mind calling someone "black" is no different than calling a woman a "blonde" or a man "tall". It's a quick way to identify someone by an obvious physical characteristic. I think that a lot of younger people from minorities are really reacting to the over-the-top projections of racism from their elders. One of my boyfriend's friends (black with a physics degree) got really upset at the guy who was commenting on the term "black hole" and one of my black classmates (English student) spoke rather derogatorily about the whole upset over the term "niggardly". Both of them felt that even joking comments really just supported stereotypes of black people as stupid, foolish and quick to anger. The girl I was in class with didn't even care about the term "nigger" in our books... she said that getting upset over it only gave it and the idiots who tried to use it painfully power and that ignoring it just ended up making herself look better and the other person worse.

That's the sort of thinking I like.

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Posted by Quincy Maxwell on July 20, 2014 at 9:37pm 25 Comments

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