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Q: African Americans ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: African Americans
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: xanne-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 23 Sep 2006 09:33 PDT
Expires: 23 Oct 2006 09:33 PDT
Question ID: 767822
In the United States, Black people like to be refered to as African
Americans.  What are Black people called in Mexico?  African Mexicans?
And in Germany? African Germans?  And in New Zealand?  African New
Is African American a unique characterization just to the United States?
Subject: Re: African Americans
Answered By: politicalguru-ga on 23 Sep 2006 10:24 PDT
Dear Xanne, 

African American is indeed a term unique to the United States and to
its unique history of opression.

In the UK, some are referred to as "Black Britons" (see for example:
"List of Black Britons",
<>), sometimes one
would like to stress their heritage - Caribbean, African, etc. In
Canada, too, many Canadians describe themselves as "Black Canadians"
and given the immigration from the Caribbeans, not all are directly
descendants of Africans brought to Canada.

In other countries, one uses the term "Afro-...", but not always. There are: 

- "Afro-Brazilians" (or African-Brazilians,

- Afro-Cuban <>); However,
"Most Cubans (about 60-70 percent, according to a 2001 census)
characterise themselves as mulatto, that is of mixed-race ancestry,
while close to 15 percent characterise themselves as Black. A large
majority of those living on the island thus affirm having a majority
of African ancestry. Many Cubans still locate their origins in
specific African ethnic groups or regions, particularly Yoruba and
Congo, but also Arará, Carabalí, Mandingo, Fula and others." (SOURCE:
Wikipedia, <>). So,
it is an English-langauge "politically correct" definition, which is
not used by those people themselves.

- Germany: Afro-Germans (in German: Afrodeutsche). Again, this might
be a "politically correct" term not used by black people in Germany. A
local  organisation is called "Initiative Schwarze Menschen in
Deutschland (ISD)" (Black People in Germany).

- In Mexico, "Afro-Mexican" (afro-mexicano)

You must also remember, that the term "African American" is
problematic in several levels:

- It comes as a politcally correct term to deal with the problem of
racism against Black people in the United States, but it has turned
"Black" to such a "forbidden" word that this has happened:
"Jay Leno (a late night talk show host in the U.S.) had his wife on
his show briefly to try and raise awareness of the plight of women in
Afghanistan. During the conversation she made a comparison with what
used to go on in South Africa during the apartheid years and she
referred to South African blacks as "African Americans." This example
makes it quite clear that in her mind she has merely substituted the
word 'black' with 'African American.'" (SOURCE: "Black or
Carribean-English?", <>).

- African American actually refers to people in the United States who
are descendants of the slave community. However, there are people who
have immigrated in the past several years to the United States from
the Caribbean Islands, Brazil or from East Africa (slaves where
brought in from West Africa). Two of the US leading politicians, Barak
Obama and Colin Powell, actually belong to the latter group. They are
considered "African American" because their skin is darker, but
actually do not share the heritage of those people like, say, Jesse
Jackson. What about them? What about a "White" person born in South
Africa or in Egypt and immigrating to America - Are they "African
See : (yes, again, the Mavis Leno story never ceases to amuse people,
but here from a different angle):
What?s In A Name?

- And you've asked about New Zealand. Some of the native people to New
Zealand and Australia are "Black". They are certainly not from Africa,
nor they have any particular connection to this continent. Why should
they be called African-New-Zealanders? After all, they are Maoris, or
"Indigenous Australians", or Polynesian, Melanesian, and so on.

I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarification on this answer before you rate it.
Subject: Re: African Americans
From: pinkfreud-ga on 23 Sep 2006 10:35 PDT
Great answer, politicalguru!

Some of the material here may be of interest:
Subject: Re: African Americans
From: markvmd-ga on 24 Sep 2006 07:31 PDT
A recent ad for a Yankees baseball game included wording to the effect
that the players would "be wearing African American armbands to honor"
the memory of a person. They were actually wearing black armbands but
a computer style editor changed it to the more politically correct
term with silly results.

Just try calling a Jamaican an African American-- you'll get an earful, mon!

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