Why must black people call themselves "African-American"?

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Jeff M

Fort Worth, TX

#1 Jan 13, 2009
I am no racist, although I am certain I will be called one for this thread. But I REFUSE to call Black people "African-Americans." My ancestry goes back to France and Scotland, but I do not call myself French-American or Scottish-American. I am an American, plain and simple...no suffix required! So, why the special designation for black people? What is wrong with just being called a Black person, or simply an American? Besides, it cannot be assumed that all black ancestry in the United states can be traced back to Africa. The majority of Black people have never even BEEN to Africa before, and probably do not even know anyone from there. To me, Black people calling themselves "African-Americans" is a divisive stance, when I thought that the goal of the civil rights movement was to end segregation and to live in harmony with other races as "Americans."

OK, let the "Racist!" comments commence!:o)
ADV

Indianapolis, IN

#2 Jan 13, 2009
I agree.......

You're either American or you aren't.......

Personally I think it's their way of dividing themselves..........

They are always changing what they want to be called..........

Lots of them 'think' they are kings or queens princes or princesses..........

It's racist..........
Jeff M

Fort Worth, TX

#3 Jan 13, 2009
Thanks for not calling me a "racist!" :o)
ADV

Indianapolis, IN

#4 Jan 13, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
Thanks for not calling me a "racist!" :o)
You're welcome..........
SueMe

Philadelphia, PA

#5 Jan 13, 2009
Im not sure if black people were the ones that started with that name, but I don't know anything about my heritage anymore these days. I don't know that black would be a better term either since most black people aren't the actual colour of black. Most of us are the colour of brown. It shouldn't be that big of a deal though. It's all so confusing. My stance is you're either a believer of God or you're not. Those are the two different kinds of people of the world. Good against evil. Nothing else really matters to God.
Jeff M

Lenexa, KS

#6 Jan 13, 2009
Very well said, SueMe. That is what life SHOULD be about. I am of no religious denomination, despite going to 12 years of Catholic school. When asked what my religion is, i tell people that I belong to the "Church of be a good person." :o)

Thanks for sharing your view and not assuming this was racist-driven.:o)

“Not liked but it's Alright....”

Since: Apr 08

Richmond, VA

#7 Jan 13, 2009
first of all we don't all call ourselves that its the media that does and other black people on tv who "represent" us ..we kinda have no choice..lol..if you say your not that they are gonna want to kill you or say your brainwashed even if your not just of african decent

“Reppin the 708”

Since: Nov 08

Harvey, IL

#8 Jan 13, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
I am no racist, although I am certain I will be called one for this thread. But I REFUSE to call Black people "African-Americans." My ancestry goes back to France and Scotland, but I do not call myself French-American or Scottish-American. I am an American, plain and simple...no suffix required! So, why the special designation for black people? What is wrong with just being called a Black person, or simply an American? Besides, it cannot be assumed that all black ancestry in the United states can be traced back to Africa. The majority of Black people have never even BEEN to Africa before, and probably do not even know anyone from there. To me, Black people calling themselves "African-Americans" is a divisive stance, when I thought that the goal of the civil rights movement was to end segregation and to live in harmony with other races as "Americans."
OK, let the "Racist!" comments commence!:o)
One of the reason is African Americans want to identify with our African heritage. The other reason is, African Americans wasn't even treated like American citizens just 40 years ago. Maybe if America wasn't so racist/segregated in the past and still happening today, people wouldn't need to hypenate American.
L-des

Wappingers Falls, NY

#9 Jan 13, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
I am no racist, although I am certain I will be called one for this thread. But I REFUSE to call Black people "African-Americans." My ancestry goes back to France and Scotland, but I do not call myself French-American or Scottish-American. I am an American, plain and simple...no suffix required! So, why the special designation for black people? What is wrong with just being called a Black person, or simply an American? Besides, it cannot be assumed that all black ancestry in the United states can be traced back to Africa. The majority of Black people have never even BEEN to Africa before, and probably do not even know anyone from there. To me, Black people calling themselves "African-Americans" is a divisive stance, when I thought that the goal of the civil rights movement was to end segregation and to live in harmony with other races as "Americans."
OK, let the "Racist!" comments commence!:o)
PLEASE LET'S STOP THE MADNESS.

People can call themselves whatever they feel like.

Black people in America did not have a Town Hall meeting and agreed to become African Americans overnight.

I don't know who set the standards for the proper terminology of Black Americans.

First it was negro, colored, Afro-American, Black and now African American.

You have to asked the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT why they keep changing the term for Blacks in America, NOT US.

B.A.P.F.
L-des

Wappingers Falls, NY

#10 Jan 13, 2009
Actually we are DESCENDANTS from STOLEN AFRICANS.
Jeff M

Lenexa, KS

#11 Jan 13, 2009
Well, I appreciate your civil discussion points!

I certainly acknowledge that very bad things took place in this country regarding the quality of life and limitations of rights that black people have endured for many, many years. I can only imagine the power of the need to band together and heal as a group of people. So, it is not inconceivable that you might prefer to have your own distinct variant of the title, "American."

But my questioning of this separate classification of group title is that it kind of goes against my understanding of what the leaders of the civil rights movement were working so hard to do away with...the white-imposed idea of segregation...of "separate but equal." By placing the "African-" in front of American, it seems like establishing a certain degree of separation from America as a whole. So, what once was white-imposed is now black-imposed.

Is that a valid point, or am I way off base here? Don't grill me if I'm being ignorant. I am just trying to learn.:o)
Jeff M

Lenexa, KS

#12 Jan 13, 2009
OK, in reading some of your responses, it is becoming apparent that the term "African-American" was not so much created, nor perpetuated by Black people, but rather by the media and/or the government? See, I was not aware of that. I had always assumed that it was a pride thing and promoted by black people.
Mixed Zimbabwean

Leeds, UK

#13 Jan 14, 2009
King Goku Xlll wrote:
<quoted text>
One of the reason is African Americans want to identify with our African heritage. The other reason is, African Americans wasn't even treated like American citizens just 40 years ago. Maybe if America wasn't so racist/segregated in the past and still happening today, people wouldn't need to hypenate American.
Well said I dont what the fuss is about and how can the term 'African American be divisive that is a load of bull in the UK this would not even be an issue. Blacks are African americans becuase that is where their roots lay IN AFRICA.

I know about the Jim Crow laws and like you said, many if not most whites did not even see black people as real Americans.
Jeff M

Fort Worth, TX

#14 Jan 14, 2009
Mixed Zimbabwean wrote:
<quoted text>
...how can the term 'African American be divisive? Blacks are African americans becuase that is where their roots lay IN AFRICA.
It feels divisive to me, because it implies that Black people are more focused on where they came from, centuries ago, than what country they live in here and now, hundreds of years and many generations later. As mentioned, I consider myself an "American" plain and simple. I feel no need to call myself a Scottish-American or a French-American or any other special designation of American. I don't personally know any of my ancestors who came from there, nor did my parents or their parents. I was born in America therefore I am an American. I guess my point is that it can kind of come off as they are ashamed to be considered an American and therefore require the special disclaimer. That is why I consider it somewhat divisive.
SueMe

Philadelphia, PA

#15 Jan 14, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
Very well said, SueMe. That is what life SHOULD be about. I am of no religious denomination, despite going to 12 years of Catholic school. When asked what my religion is, i tell people that I belong to the "Church of be a good person." :o)
Thanks for sharing your view and not assuming this was racist-driven.:o)
Well thanks Jeff, and I honestly didn't see it as racist. I feel it was a good topic to bring up, because there are definately many unanswered questions about blacks in America. Im glad you seem to have faith in God too...he should always be first and foremost. I love God.

Level 1

Since: Nov 08

United States

#16 Jan 14, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
<quoted text> It feels divisive to me, because it implies that Black people are more focused on where they came from, centuries ago, than what country they live in here and now, hundreds of years and many generations later. As mentioned, I consider myself an "American" plain and simple. I feel no need to call myself a Scottish-American or a French-American or any other special designation of American. I don't personally know any of my ancestors who came from there, nor did my parents or their parents. I was born in America therefore I am an American. I guess my point is that it can kind of come off as they are ashamed to be considered an American and therefore require the special disclaimer. That is why I consider it somewhat divisive.
I think your discussion so far has been well received and your points valid. Like you, I just don't get it. Many times I've heard the argument that some white people call themselves German American or Italian American and that African American is the same thing. Actually it is not. Those white people mention the country of their heritage, not the continent of their heritage.

I have a friend who is African American. He is as white as you can be, blonde haired and blue eyed. He was born in Africa and lived there until he was 20 years old.
SueMe

Philadelphia, PA

#17 Jan 14, 2009
For those black people on here that get offended too easily, why don't yall give someone a chance to ask an innocent question instead of automatically getting offended? This man just learned something new today. Finally someone who is interested enough in our culture to go the extra mile to find out the real facts instead of just making terrible assumptions about us. Man I tell you if every racist and or uninformed white/black/asian/indian/etc person took the time out to learn the facts about people as racial groups and as individual people then maybe this world would be a bit of a better place. Instead it seems too many people are just comfortable with throwing around stereotypes. Jeff not too long ago said that he didn't realize where the title came from...so now he knows that it's much more than a black pride thing. It's so much bigger than that. As a matter of fact it really hasn't much to do with pride at all.

Since: Nov 08

Toronto, Canada

#18 Jan 14, 2009
Jeff M wrote:
<quoted text> It feels divisive to me, because it implies that Black people are more focused on where they came from, centuries ago, than what country they live in here and now, hundreds of years and many generations later. As mentioned, I consider myself an "American" plain and simple. I feel no need to call myself a Scottish-American or a French-American or any other special designation of American. I don't personally know any of my ancestors who came from there, nor did my parents or their parents. I was born in America therefore I am an American. I guess my point is that it can kind of come off as they are ashamed to be considered an American and therefore require the special disclaimer. That is why I consider it somewhat divisive.
I hate saying something is an American thing but from what I've learned of American society in class, this is an American thing. Americans promote a melting pot. Once you live in America for some generations, you are just American.

Where some nations such as Canada are different is that while they promote a Canadian identity, they also promote acknowledging your ancestry. You could be born and raised in Canada and if your parents are Nigerian, call yourself Nigerian Canadian and no one cares. In fact, it's almost expected.

Coming from this perspective, I don't see the term African American as a bad thing and certainly not worse then "black"

Since: Nov 08

Toronto, Canada

#19 Jan 14, 2009
blackcloud wrote:
<quoted text>
I think your discussion so far has been well received and your points valid. Like you, I just don't get it. Many times I've heard the argument that some white people call themselves German American or Italian American and that African American is the same thing. Actually it is not. Those white people mention the country of their heritage, not the continent of their heritage.
I have a friend who is African American. He is as white as you can be, blonde haired and blue eyed. He was born in Africa and lived there until he was 20 years old.
Well, we all know the reason why African Americans would mention their continent instead of particular country but we both probably don't want to get into a discussion about slavery.

And your friend is not an African American, at least not the way I understand the term, he is a (whatever country he was born in)-American. Actually, seeing how he wasn't born in America, some wouldn't even call him anything American. Just like here in Canada, unless you have French heritage and living in Canada, you are not going to be considered a French Canadian, you will be consider (whatever French country you are born in) Canadian. Heck, even people from France in Canada are not really seen as French Canadian. You say that term here, everyone is gonna think you are talking the descendants of French settlers.
SO TRUE

United States

#20 Jan 14, 2009
American Blacks apparently, at times get the focus of what hyphenated is all about. Those non-black individuals who sometimes might refer to themselves as a hyphenated American, are individuals whose ancestors came to this country within recent years, usually the the mid 19th century and later.
They have recent and sometimes remote ties to second and third generation immigrants. The majority of American Blacks ancestors have been here since 1619 and some before. No other American, perhaps more so than Black Americans have earned the right just to be called an American. After 400 years, black Americans ancestors will be found here, not somewhere in Africa. The elite Africans assisted in and helped to round up those who were sold and eventually enslaved. The least among them.

Enslaved Africans came from various villages, territories, tribes and geographical locations. After being bred, sold, moved, sold again, bred again, and then moved freely on their own for more than one hundred years..their ancestors are here.
Their heritage is here, the mother land is here. The mother land for the enslaved Africans was Africa. It appears unfortunate that a great deal of time is spent talking about some other mother land, when the struggles of black ancestors for more than three hundred years have been right here in the USA.

Black Americans of African ancestry have truly become an American Black, a new genotype/phenotype. Enslaved blacks, freed blacks and so many others suffered, died, bled and toiled to make this country what it is. The suffering was here, this country is their heritage, building on all that they endured, just to be an an American would make them proud. It is without a doubt that most American Blacks are of African ancestry. African ethnicity and they are unique.. Accepting that and building on it is the CURRENT STRUGGLE.

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