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Old 06-29-2013, 01:14 PM
350 posts, read 567,081 times
Reputation: 396


I get the sense that some of the African Americans posting here don't want any connection to West Africa at all. Why is that? Yes the term can seem marginalizing given that white Americans get to just be "American" but I still don't see that as reason to deny African influence on AA culture today. White American culture has a heavy European foundation and that doesn't make them less American.
As a black Caribbean person I am very aware that many many things we (Caribbean people) do/say/eat come from West Africa and that makes me feel good. I like that not everything was lost no matter how hard Europeans tried to strip our ancestors of their culture.

Outside of tv,I don't have enough experience with African Americans to say if their culture has lost all West African elements but I would be very surprised if that was the case.
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Old 06-29-2013, 01:20 PM
Location: Chicago area
1,105 posts, read 2,735,794 times
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Originally Posted by Kiki_Anderson View Post

Afrikaaners are of Dutch, German and Scandinavia background. FYI: They were primarily responsible for instituting Apartheid in South Africa. These people created a system which stripped the native/indigenous South Africans of their resources and land.
Afrikaners are of Dutch, German and French origins. Not Scandinavian.
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:03 PM
8,792 posts, read 9,617,809 times
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A person who wants to show he is just like white people so he want's to be called black is rather ironic.
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Old 07-04-2013, 04:33 PM
Location: Little Rock AR USA
2,457 posts, read 6,087,640 times
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All these posts have been interesting with their individual points of view. I just read in National Geographic an interesting story about the Australian Aboriginals. Their skin is very black, so if they were walking down a street here in the US of A, which term would be used to identify them?
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Old 07-04-2013, 04:47 PM
Location: Center of the universe
24,757 posts, read 32,891,787 times
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Originally Posted by branh0913 View Post
Black is fine. It's an informal term just acknowledging someone's skin color. It's not meant to really speculate on someone's heritage or background. It's simply just a casual observation that someone has a darker skin tone. It's not meant to be as anything taken special. African American is a term that takes itself much more seriously. But if one were to try to justify the term, you probably couldn't without a bunch of activist and revisionist history.
Black is descriptive. African American is ethnic and cultural. Lots of blacks in America are not African American.
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Old 07-06-2013, 05:40 AM
2,319 posts, read 1,980,315 times
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I've avoided this thread for a long time because I knew it would stir up all this verbal cacophony, but I agree 100 percent with the OP. Thank you, branh0913, for cutting through the many weeds to create a simple path of comprehension.
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:46 PM
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
2,776 posts, read 6,964,466 times
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You may think it stupid but I prefer to be called African-American if I have to be labeled at all. "Black", as opposed to "white" is simplistic and polarizing...suggesting that human groups are are simply divided as 5 colors. African-American is more descriptive of my ancestry, having descended mostly from West African forced immigration. Of course, it does no justice to my actual complexity and ethnic palette---I claim ancestry from eastern and southern Native Americans, Scots-Irish, English, and perhaps some eastern European , as well as African. The term best describes my ethnic and historical where I have no mother tongue, native garb, or specifically African cuisine to do that for me. Whereas so many Americans can enjoy and refer to a mother tongue; be it Gaelic or Sicilian; an inherited recipe such as grandma Ada's famous pierogis; or uncle Heinrich's Prussian helmet.
In a country with so much cultural pluralism that is always changing, the term is satisfyingly descriptive of where I came from.
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Old 07-06-2013, 04:43 PM
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It seems to me the term got popular after the celebrities began using it routinely. I agree with the OP, it's become the PC term to use. But I'm just "white". I guess I should say I'm a European-American. But to my way of thinking, I was born here, I'm an American, period. People can be interested in their heritage without using hyphenated additions. If someone with generations in South Africa, immigrated to the USA, they could say they were an African-American too, despite their color. Some researchers suggest that if you go back far enough we all originated from the continent of Africa. As we continue to blend, more interracial marriages take place, and more biracial children are produced, it may become less important all this labeling.
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:19 PM
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
2,776 posts, read 6,964,466 times
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Immigrants from South Africa would be South African-Americans or something more specific to their origins, Afrikaaner-American or Zulu-American. It makes more sense, though, to use the hyphenated descriptive terms to illustrate an actual genetic blending as in African-Americans and our recognized mixed heritage or as a reference to someone several generations removed from the country of their ethnic origin as in Irish-Americans, Italian-Americans. The term itself is descriptive of blending.
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Old 07-06-2013, 07:25 PM
Location: Way South of the Volvo Line
2,776 posts, read 6,964,466 times
Reputation: 2824
Originally Posted by chiroptera View Post
Well, some non-black Africans have a five-or-six generation lineage and heritage in Africa. So at what point do they get to call themselves African?

Meanwhile some black Americans do not even hail from the African continent, or are recently-arrived immigrants. Do they get to call themselves African-Americans, even if they just immigrated in 2006, or moved here from Jamaica or some other Carribean, non-African country?

I agree with the OP and unless someone specifically tells me they want to be referred to as "African American" or "European American" or "Asian American" I try to avoid labels altogether. I really think it will be a nice day when skin colour is truly irrelevant.

I was born in the USA but grew up in Europe and the Middle East. When I moved back to the US as an adult with a Scottish accent I was gobsmacked at all the people who blithely informed me they were "Scottish." Despite never having been there or having the faintest idea of the culture. Quite frankly I found it really stupid. I feel the same way about the term "African American" from someone who is generations-born and raised in America.

I'd feel equally silly referring to myself as a "German-Scottish-Roma-American." Or "European-American", if I'd never left the US.
My White anthropology professor was a former Kenyan citizen of English descent before he escaped the purges of Idi Amin. He liked to refer to himself as African-American or Kenyan-American. This is America. One still has the choice to choose what terms we wish to identify ourselves by.
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