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

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1. A outdated problematic, non-universal racial term used to describe anyone of sub-saharan african descent residing in the united states. That doubles as a ethnic term describing people who descended from the slave trade in america or, identify with black american cultural ethnic identity residing in the u.s, whilst obscuring the ethnic identities of non-ethnic african-american blacks because of its dual use nature. Used interchangeably with the word "black" further exacerbating and creating social/racial/ethnic issues and tension.
A african-american in america may say describing their ethnicity may say "im half black and half brazilian" which really means im half african-american and half brazilian in describing ethnicity rather than race.

A person may choose to hire a afro-trinidadian person over the african-american black person due to stereotypes of african-americans which is a case of ethnic discrimination rather than racial discrimination.

A afro-jamaican or afro-latino from cuba may say he or she isn't "black" meaning he or she isn't african-american because the term is used interchangeably with the more popularly used term black to describe ethnicity.

A company may have a black history month lunch with "Soul food" widely regarded as Ethnic African-American Cuisine. However since it is usually interpreted as a play on a negative racial stereotype rather than a good will toward an ethnicity I.E "not all black people eat fried chicken!!!"
A gesture of goodwill misinterpreted, not necessarily because of ignorance but because of the constant confusion based on current terminology.

"African-American history" does not include the history of Haiti however a person of Haitian decent residing in America is labelled African-American.

A Afro-Barbadian is labelled a African-American in America even if he or she is not a citizen of the U.S

black black american negro negroe black people
by Maurice Caldeira May 26, 2012

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An ethnicity (not a race) that is equivalent to "Asian American" or "Latino/Hispanic American" and is used to designate the population descended from enslaved Africans in the US (and sometimes the Americas in general). It is not synonymous or interchangeable with "black" which is a racial category and may include African Americans (formerly Afro-Americans or American Negroes), Afro-Caribbean people, Afro-Latino people, or any other group that may be racially defined as black. The choice to identify as African American has nothing to do with nationality or race, but with a unique cultural heritage that developed in the US. Therefore, the critique that African Americans are not "African" because they were not born in Africa is irrelevant and as nonsensical as saying that a 10th generation Asian American is not Asian because they weren't born there- the titles are meant to recognize recent origins, current cultural practices, and identities that are distinct from mainstream white American culture (although its forms are often appropriated by mainstream white American culture).
White person who's terrified of difference and of really thinking about history because it means she has to acknowledge that her ancestors were pricks: "You're no more African than I am European."
African American: "That's true but the implications of someone looking at us and guessing that my ancestors were African and that yours were European are pretty freakin different, asshole. Read a history book and maybe you'll figure out why."
by reading_rainbow February 27, 2012

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African-American is an (ETHNICITY), just as valid as Italian-American, German-American, Japanese-American Kenyan-American, Nigerian-American, Egyptian-America etc.

The Black Americans that are *descendants* of African slaves that were FORCED to come to America, NOT to be confused with Africans that (VOLUNTARILY) *immigrated* to America AFTER slavery ended.
Not all Blacks in America are African-American.

President Barack Obama is NOT an African-American, he knows that his father is from Kenya and that his mom is American thus he is *Kenyan-American* his wife is African-American. Also American Blacks are called BLACK for 'general purposes' however, "African-American" for FORMAL purposes ie, job applications, legal documentation etc.
by Ashcan May 09, 2010

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A term that I will start using at the exact moment that I start using "European American", which will hopefully be never.
What's wrong with the word "black"? Why do we need to say "African American"? It's six syllables longer. Why is "white" perfectly acceptable, but "black" all of a sudden isn't? People are too afraid of offending others. You do not have the right to not be offended in the United States. Stop giving voice and standing to the chronically and professionally offended, who are constantly on the look-out for reasons to be offended. If we continue as we are, in 10 to 20 years, "African American" will be considered offensive, and will be replaced with something else that will be considered offensive in 10 to 20 more years, and so on and so on. Stop this nonsense.
by Monty Cobra May 06, 2014

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Person with citizenship in America as well as EVERY African country.
I'm an African American who now has a million passports to prove my citizenship.
by Waradvisor July 10, 2015

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The word given to black people as a way of making them feel less american then everyone else. Making them feel like they all belong or grew up in Africa when most have families that trace back to america in the 18th-19th century. Or 1700's-1800's for people who don't know.

- A word given to black americans only by other americans, not used in any other countries to refer to black americans.
Son: Why are brown people called African-Americans?

DAD: Because they're all African!
Son: Then why aren't we called European-American?
Dad: Because white people are true Americans.
by TheUrbainDict August 10, 2015

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