According to the United States government, African-Americans (Black Americans) are:
"Residents or citizens of the United States, who have biological origins in any black ethnic group on the continent of Africa"

What African-American does not mean:
1) It does not mean that blacks born in the U.S. are African. It means that these Americans are of African descent. A specific country of origin cannot be named because enslaved Africans were stripped of their culture.
2) It does not apply to people who come from Africa, unless they are biologically African (i.e. Black)
3) Legally it does apply to blacks from Africa, the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.....as long as they reside within the borders of the United States.
Notable African-Americans include Bill Cosby, El Haji Malik El Shabbaz, Martin Luther King, and Medgar Evers

Person #1 - Is a white person from Nigeria, who lives in the U.S., an African-American?

Me- Legally no they are not. That person would be considered a White Nigerian-American.

by Amaru1971 March 10, 2008

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A human being with a direct line of ancestry to African, but was born in one of the Americas. It is not a term for any and all black U.S. citizens.
Correct: Some of the slaves in the past were African-American.

Incorrect:

Suzy: I made a friend, they're African-American!
Suzy's Mom: Oh, what part of Africa were their relatives from?
Suzy: Oh my god Mom, you're being so embarrassing, I meant black. Duh.
by poochie.butt December 27, 2015

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1) The term mistakeningly used by people who see fit to walk on eggshells around a Black Americans out of fear of offending them. In reality, a person may actually offend a Black/African American person more because they assume that they will be offended by Black.

2) A term used to formally describe an American ethnic group. This specific group uses this term mostly in formal situations and Black in casual situations but most could care less about which one is used to describe them.

3) The only term used to describe an American ethnic group that is constantly debunked, although this particular American ethnic group are only seen as Americans when it's convenient.
1) Girl 1: Yeah that was such a cute Bla.... I mean African American guy!
Girl 2: You know, you don't have to say African American. Black isn't offensive.

2) Guy 1: Do you prefer Black or African American?
Guy 2: Either is fine, just not Nigger.

3) After the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, people noticed how organized and orderly the Japanese were. When speculators tried to use the comparison between how Americans reacted to disaster after Hurricane Katrina and how the Japanese reacted, these were the popular responses:
"Japan didn't have any looting because there were no Blacks."
"Only Blacks and Latinos were looting the stores"
"It wasn't Americans who did the looting, it was "African-Americans""
Why these responses? Because African-Americans are less American than all others and become American enough when it's convenient.

Rap=Black music

Blues=American music (although it was also made by Black/African Americans)
by MrSpeechie2010 March 02, 2012

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The term was made popular during the 1980's by Jesse Jackson when he used it in front of a national audience.
For more information:
SOURCE: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American
There are more than 37 million people in the United States who have majority African ancestry that may or may not use the term "African American" :
First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Will Smith, Eddie Murphy, Janet Jackson, Vivica A. Fox,
by yarnkitten2 January 21, 2012

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While the term 'African American' may seem nothing more than a PC term for 'blacks,' it does carry a signficant amount of social implications. It is inappropriate and quite uneducated to assume that an entire group of people should be degraded to the description of a color, namely black. The term is referring to an entire race of people who have historically undergone discrimination, oppression, segregation and slavery in THIS country for over 3 centuries. Thus, the label 'African American' subsequently emerged as a response to the overwhelming amount of racism still prevalent in modern society. It attempts to erradicate previous racist notions that non-whites are somehow (even biologically) inferior to whites. It also attempts to provide them with a certain heritage as well as a respect for a socially disadvantaged group who still face de facto discrimination. (side note- I am not black or African American, I am actually a member of a privileged race, for those of you who think only a 'black' person should give a damn about the subordination of others, and the violation of our Constitution's equal protection clauses- see 14th amendment. Feel free to look up any terms you may be confused about- in fact, they designed wikipedia for ignorant individuals such as yourself)
Educated people, or perhaps only Harvard grads, do not refer to others in terms of the amount of melanin in their skin. They have moved beyond, or evolved so to speak, PAST the concept of race. Connotating 'African-American' with one's actual descent is not only irrational, but clearly misses the point. Caucasians are presumed to be of European decent, wheras the majority cannot afford a passport to travel outside of the U.S. border.

by E. Gardener May 01, 2007

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The 155th name that negros want to be called. Previously, they wanted to be called colored, and before that it was black, before that it was nigger. The first name they were called was "beast".
Tom: 'Hey Joe, meet Tylenoya. She's black'
Tylenoya: 'I'd prefer to be called African American, because I am offended by being called black.'
by poppaa February 06, 2013

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A word obviously disliked by most of the people on urban dictionary for being 'politically correct'. While that may be true, it is no less 'proper english' than the use of the word black for people who are usually varying shades of brown and tan.

If the word is so detestable maybe we shouldn't use hypenated-american terms at all. Should we refer to chinese americans as yellows now? Or JFK as the first redhead catholic president?

The truth is that african-american is suited to some situations and black is suited to other situations. Just like caucasian americans are routinely refered to both as white and by terms like 'english-american'. Just because africans were brought on ships hundreds of years ago doesn't make that heritage any less important to a black person as european heritage to a white person.
"Look at me. I'm black. Look at my black skin" - Colin Powell

African is a useful term for implying geographical heritage. There are people in South East Asia who for all purposes look like what we know as 'black people'. When refering to the geographical origin of the american black population african-american is a useful term.
by Barry .S. Truman April 26, 2009

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