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the suffix applied to terms for non-white ethnic groups (i.e. African-American) to indicate that American it's describing is different from other Americans-- because as everyone knows, "American" is an ethnicity. And if one is not WASP, he isn't deserving of the singular appellation, and must have a stupid prefix slapped onto it before it's considered "accurate".

origin: the United States' incompetency when addressing its diversity.
Mr. Smith is a citizen of the US and is of German descent. Therefore he is American.

Mrs. Johnson is a citizen of the US and is of English descent. Therefore she is American.

Mr. Obama is a citizen of the US and is of partial African descent. Therefore he is-- wait, what was that? That one would actually be African-hyphen-American.
by plain old American August 14, 2008
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