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Thinker
09-15-2009, 12:54 PM
Why do black people in America prefer to be labelled as ‘African Americans?’

Some years back when I was living and working in Zambia I was talking, over beer, to a South African guy who was explaining to me how the apartheid system had operated in South Africa. As the beer flowed his bitterness grew. Although I had known this chap (socially) for sometime this was the first time he’d shared his story and the resentment he felt. What was surprising was that he was white. Well when I say white, I mean I hadn’t consciously thought about what ethnic group he came from but he looked just like any other ‘white’ guy. He went on to tell me that he had been classified as ‘coloured’ because he was from an Iranian background. And, he explained how the apartheid system discriminated against him because his ID card classified him as coloured. This was the late 90’s and long after the end of apartheid and the classification of citizens according to race.

Later whilst watching TV one night I saw this African American going on about the treatment of African Americans and I wondered why black Americans wanted to be classified as an ethnic group with the title African American. It seemed to be that black Americans were asking to be classified in exactly way my friend had resented so much. The next question that followed was, if the black guy in America is an African American what are all the white guys living in Africa called? And then the question – is every black man in America from Africa and what do the black people who are not from Africa feel about the title?

I got onto internet and found an African American organisation in American and emailed them; a guy responded and I asked him these questions, he never replied.

As this is Ramadan and I am steering away from forbidden topics and as there are Americans and possibly some black American members on this forum I thought I’d ask the question here.
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S_87
09-15-2009, 01:28 PM
interesting..never thought about that.
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AbdullahSyed
09-15-2009, 02:07 PM
The word Black used to be seen as an insult in the American society back in the days. After black people got their rights they preferred to be called African American instead of black. Which is ridiculous because on the news the describe a person as African American even though he could be Jamaican.
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Cabdullahi
09-15-2009, 02:12 PM
They were taken away from their original place and now live outside their national boundries , having their culture and language destroyed the best they can do now is keep the title 'african'
i think it would be fair and just for the caucasians in america to call themselves european americans because their ancestors left the national boundries also, maybe the sense of feeling superior is preventing that allah knows best
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kashmirshazad
09-15-2009, 02:16 PM
It could be worse, In Britain youre not part of any group, youre just an 'ethnic minority'. Its everywhere on any official authoritarial form(s).
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ardianto
09-15-2009, 04:23 PM
Sometime people use word black for insult another people because in certain thing black is identic with bad. I.e black history, black day, etc.

If they prefer to labeled themselves as African Americans that's because they have African ancestry. If they labeled themselves as Black Americans that's means they are native Americans who have black skin.

Not every Black people in U.S are African Americans. I remember in 80's there was a boys band. All member in this boys band had black skins and curly hairs. However, they were not Africans but Polynesian.

White people in Africa are Afrikaners / Afrikaans.
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Muezzin
09-15-2009, 04:43 PM
Originally Posted by Thinker
Why do black people in America prefer to be labelled as ‘African Americans?’

Some years back when I was living and working in Zambia I was talking, over beer, to a South African guy who was explaining to me how the apartheid system had operated in South Africa. As the beer flowed his bitterness grew. Although I had known this chap (socially) for sometime this was the first time he’d shared his story and the resentment he felt. What was surprising was that he was white. Well when I say white, I mean I hadn’t consciously thought about what ethnic group he came from but he looked just like any other ‘white’ guy. He went on to tell me that he had been classified as ‘coloured’ because he was from an Iranian background. And, he explained how the apartheid system discriminated against him because his ID card classified him as coloured. This was the late 90’s and long after the end of apartheid and the classification of citizens according to race.

Later whilst watching TV one night I saw this African American going on about the treatment of African Americans and I wondered why black Americans wanted to be classified as an ethnic group with the title African American. It seemed to be that black Americans were asking to be classified in exactly way my friend had resented so much. The next question that followed was, if the black guy in America is an African American what are all the white guys living in Africa called? And then the question – is every black man in America from Africa and what do the black people who are not from Africa feel about the title?

I got onto internet and found an African American organisation in American and emailed them; a guy responded and I asked him these questions, he never replied.

As this is Ramadan and I am steering away from forbidden topics and as there are Americans and possibly some black American members on this forum I thought I’d ask the question here.
Interesting thoughts.

However, I disagree that self-identifying as a particular ethnic group is the same as marginalising oneself - I don't think the terms 'African American' and 'Coloured' are equivalent. Just from a semantic point of view, the terms 'black' and 'coloured' are more similar.

The term 'African American' may be analogous to British terms for people of non-white ethnic origins. There's 'Afro Carribbean' and 'Asian or Asian British', for instance. But in the UK those kinds of terms tend to be for official purposes - equal opportunities stuff on various forms. It doesn't necessarily mean the person in question is literally an African or Asian immigrant. It's just a PC way to describe the colour of their skin. :)

Usually, like most other British people, when referring to a person's race, I would just say they are 'white', or 'black' or 'Asian' (i.e. brown). Interesting that us Brits tend to group together Asians of Far Eastern descent as 'Chinese'.

As for white people in Africa... maybe there's some Dutch word, I don't know.

As you may be aware, there's a lot of academic literature arguing that notions of race and ethnicity are purely artificial anyway.
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Keltoi
09-15-2009, 05:31 PM
I think it is mainly about black Americans regaining some sense of identity other than just being the ancestors of slaves. It might not make alot of sense politically or intellectually, but that isn't really the point. In my opinion it is all about claiming an identity other than the color of their skin.
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Thinker
09-15-2009, 05:41 PM
Originally Posted by ardianto
If they prefer to labelled themselves as African Americans that's because they have African ancestry. If they labelled themselves as Black Americans that's means they are native Americans who have black skin.
As you said, not all of them are from Africa and even more bizarrely (to me) some of those people calling themselves African American look more white than black!!

Originally Posted by ardianto
White people in Africa are Afrikaners / Afrikaans.
Oh dear, that is soooooo wrong and some white people in Africa would be offended if you referred to them as Afrikaans. The Afrikaans descend from the Dutch/Flemish settlers; also known as Boers they were the group whom the British fought against in the Boer war. They exist only in South Africa and, at a guess, form only about 50% of the white people in South Africa.

The ethnic origin of white people in African countries tends to reflect the European country they had an association with (colonial or otherwise (and No, not all African countries were colonised)).
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ardianto
09-17-2009, 03:53 PM
Originally Posted by Thinker

Oh dear, that is soooooo wrong and some white people in Africa would be offended if you referred to them as Afrikaans. The Afrikaans descend from the Dutch/Flemish settlers; also known as Boers they were the group whom the British fought against in the Boer war. They exist only in South Africa and, at a guess, form only about 50% of the white people in South Africa.
At least, Afrikaans are white. ;D

Okay, white people in Africa are White African.
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whi...uropean_origin
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