Wikipedia:African American - Wikipedia

Wikipedia:African American

African-American. Although the term African-American is used as a color descriptive in the United States, it is not a universal term and creates confusion in other parts of the world. It is a term used mostly, and made popular, by the American media as well as American politicians; however, the common U.S. citizen has not yet adopted the term, and nor has the rest of the world. Additionally, it has caused confusion when international readers browse Wikipedia as well as misuse (regardless of an individual's nationality, ethnicity or geography).

For example, during the 2005 civil unrest in France, CNN anchorwoman Carol Lin referred to the rioters as "African Americans".[1]

For these reasons, many nations view this term as U.S.-centric term which excludes them. Since this is an international encyclopedia, it is therefore suggested that you use the term black, although no people are literally black, but many people who have dark skin color are considered black, when describing color. This is a more universally accepted term which does not cause confusion when describing color, nor does it cause it to be one-country-centric.

Furthermore, the term perpetuates and strengthens the confused, vacillating, and inexact terminology used regarding ethnic origins (in the United States especially). Skin colour, geographic origin, language, and other constructs come and go again as they fall out of fashion (often due to pejorative use in common speech). Why are these classifications needed at all, other than in cases where it has relevance to the context?

What this does not meanEdit

  • Not all blacks are from Africa, but some may have immigrated via the Caribbean, or Pacific Islands, or South America.
  • Other nations may find it American-centric.
  • The term American itself has several different meanings, which adds to the confusion.
  • Though accurate if used for an American person of African descent, the term as used in the political sense, improperly excludes white African-Americans.
  • The term is not accurate when describing someone who is black but who is not an American citizen.

Where African American is appropriateEdit

  1. African American is entirely appropriate in identifying any American group of African descent. However, if the Country of origin is known, then that would be the more appropriate term to use. For example, if a person is born in Nigeria, and becomes a U.S. citizen, then it would be more correct and appropriate to say they are Nigerian-American rather than African-American.
  2. If a person has publicly stated that they prefer the African-American term over Black American, then, per their request and preference, it is okay to use the term. This avoids having to make an editor guess as to a person's preference and keeps the color descriptive without the confusion.

Many Blacks feel that the term African American was created to give Blacks a sense of belonging in the United States. The term African American denotes a connection to African through American slave labor but softens the actual harsh and cruel transportation and treatment of Blacks. Many of the harshly treated and enslaved Blacks probably would not want to be meshed in with and called Americans because many Blacks were brought here against their will and enslaved. This thickens the plot to make light of the oppression of Blacks in America and in order to help Blacks of this present day to better accept and maybe even forget about the discrimination, slavery, and bigotry brought on by Caucasian or "White" people; the term African American was introduced as politically correct and made optional on many government documents, including the 2000 U. S. Census.

See alsoEdit

See for info for origins of the term.


  1. ^ "CNN Sunday Night Transcripts". CNN SUNDAY NIGHT. CNN. 2005-12-06. Retrieved 2007-04-13. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)