noun : an American of African and especially of black African descent;
A Black American of African ancestry;
an American whose ancestors were born in Africa

adjective :used to describe African-Americans; pertaining to or characteristic of Americans of African ancestry



Usage Note: The Oxford English Dictionary contains evidence of the use of black with reference to African peoples as early as 1400, and certainly the word has been in wide use in racial and ethnic contexts ever since. However, it was not until the late 1960s that black (or Black) gained its present status as a self-chosen ethnonym with strong connotations of racial pride, replacing the then-current Negro among Blacks and non-Blacks alike with remarkable speed. Equally significant is the degree to which Negro became discredited in the process, reflecting the profound changes taking place in the Black community during the tumultuous years of the civil rights and Black Power movements. The recent success of African American offers an interesting contrast in this regard. Though by no means a modern coinage, African American achieved sudden prominence at the end of the 1980s when several Black leaders, including Jesse Jackson, championed it as an alternative ethnonym for Americans of African descent. The appeal of this term is obvious, alluding as it does not to skin color but to an ethnicity constructed of geography, history, and culture, and it won rapid acceptance in the media alongside similar forms such as Asian American, Hispanic American, and Italian American. But unlike what happened a generation earlier, African American has shown little sign of displacing or discrediting black, which remains both popular and positive. The difference may well lie in the fact that the campaign for African American came at a time of relative social and political stability, when Americans in general and Black Americans in particular were less caught up in issues involving radical change than they were in the 1960s. ·Black is sometimes capitalized in its racial sense, especially in the African-American press, though the lowercase form is still widely used by authors of all races. The capitalization of Black does raise ancillary problems for the treatment of the term white. Orthographic evenhandedness would seem to require the use of uppercase White, but this form might be taken to imply that whites constitute a single ethnic group, an issue that is certainly debatable. Uppercase White is also sometimes associated with the writings of white supremacist groups, a sufficient reason of itself for many to dismiss it. On the other hand, the use of lowercase white in the same context as uppercase Black will obviously raise questions as to how and why the writer has distinguished between the two groups. There is no entirely happy solution to this problem. In all likelihood, uncertainty as to the mode of styling of white has dissuaded many publications from adopting the capitalized form Black.
Docta Peppa Gangsta Chimp4Life is not African American.
by Docta Peppa Gangsta Chimp4Life December 26, 2004
The current, acceptable, feminist-certified, polically correct way to refer to anyone of african descent. Designed to eliminate any unintended racial tension in this hypersensitive, perpetually offended society we've become where people just can't lighten the fuck up anymore.
That's not a poor black guy dressed up as Santa Claus, that's an economically disadvantaged african american exercising the right to achieve monetary compensation by commercially benefiting from the eurocentrically imposed midwinter festival"
by T.Y. July 15, 2004
A word mistakingly used everyday. Im a white guy, and I could technically be a african american if I was born in Africa, and thus, immigrate to America.

Though black peoples roots are in Africa, they themselves were not born there. So that just makes them American, like everyone else born here.
I have a mostly german/scottish/irish/ french background, my roots are in europe, thus am I european American? Nah, im just American, because I was born here.
by Not Zane October 04, 2004
What white people say when they afraid to say black especially when a black person is in the room.
But you KNOW when that black person leaves the room, they say that shit w/ some other words too.

Tom: My niggaaa!! ... did you see that black chick w/ that big ol' booty?!
Bob: Fo' shizzle, my nigga. I love me some bla--
*black person comes in*
Tom: Shh, bob!!
Black guy: Hey, what're you guys talking about?
Tom: Oh, nothing. Just saw an african american women walk by w/ a rather large rear end, that's all. -chuckles-
Bob: Yep, that's all. -fake laugh-
Black guy: You know I don't get offended if you say black, & not all of us came from africa.
Tom: What?! But that's such a racist term! I would never say that.
Bob: Never ...
Black guy: Whatever *leaves the room*
Tom: So yea, niggaa, that black bitch got a big ol' booty!!
Bob: Sheeeit, I just wanna grab that shit & spank it!! WOOO! *makes spanking motions*
by Blackie Chan July 20, 2006
A term wrongly used to give identity to, any black person in America.
African American was actually meant to give an ETHNIC identity to blacks who are descendants of (Black) African slaves who were brought to the United States. This term excludes Black Jamaicans, Nigerians, Kenyans, Black Dominicans,etc.....
SOME Whites, and sometimes other non-blacks are afraid to call us black, so in any professional setting they will say African American. Other whites claim it's unfair, because they won't get called European American, but really it's the same thing as calling whites from Italy Italian, and Asians from China Chinese. Hell nobody complains about East Asians being called Asian, even though not all Asians are of the same race.
Most African Americans can not trace our African roots back to any particular country/tribe so Africa is used, as the substitute.

Oh and that guy who said it more offensive to be called AA than N*gger is a complete dumbass
Bob: Barack Obama is the first African American president
Terrance: Nope, he's the first Kenyan American president.
by TheOneGMan July 13, 2010
Politically correct term for black people.
‘I’m not frickin’ African American. I’m American. I have never been to Africa, and I never want to. I can barely tell you five countries in the stupid place.’

Black people aren’t offended by the word ‘black’. Only white people are. Which makes no sense whatsoever. Truthfully, if you came up to me and called me an ‘African American’ then I’d be offended, but if you called me ‘black’ I probably wouldn’t even notice.
by Johnny Twoguns August 05, 2004
A term commonly used to refer to American blacks, who by now are no more african than any other american.
"Now they're calling us African Americans," said Bill Cosby, "We used to be black."
by Killing Kittens October 24, 2004
Generally refers to Americans who have emigrated or are the descendants of those emigrated from the African continent. Sometimes this term is used erroneously to refer to all people of brown skin that are not Latino or Native American.
"Langston Hughes is one of the greatest African American writers of the 20th century"
by Cory Murphy August 15, 2006

Free Daily Email

Type your email address below to get our free Urban Word of the Day every morning!

Emails are sent from daily@urbandictionary.com. We'll never spam you.

×