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Old 07-26-2008, 04:32 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by GibsonGirl View Post
Speaking from a South African perspective here, I personally feel that the "Black vs. African American" debate is a little bit...well, difficult to understand. Where I come from, the term African is not exclusively synonymous with the term Black.

Like the US, South Africa is a multi-racial country. Like the US, South Africa has had a long history of slavery, segregation and racial tension. Unlike the US, South Africans don't bat an eyelid if someone says "black." It is considered perfectly normal and acceptable by members of all races in SA to refer to one another as black, white, etc. These words are mostly used as descriptors, not as insults (SA's racially insulting terms are seldom based upon words that describe colour - k****r, for instance, is taken from an Arabic word that means "heathen.") There is no such thing as an African South African or a European South African anymore. We are all equally African, regardless of the amount of melanin we have in our skin. Usually, the only people who disagree with this are radical whites or radical blacks who have refused to accept the fact that South Africa has been a racially united country for the past fourteen years.

Anyway, the reason why I bring this up - aside from the discussion in this thread - is that I recently witnessed (via a YouTube comment) a black American telling a white South African that she was "more African" than he was, simply because she was black. The statement struck me as completely and utterly bizarre. You can only claim to be African if you were born and raised in Africa, or if you are a legal citizen of an African country. It would be like me telling a black British man that I am "more British" than he is, because my Great Great Great Great Grandpa was a white man from Essex and his Great Great Great Great Grandpa was a black man from Harare. Really, her statement made no sense whatsoever. I know her opinion isn't representative of the entire African American community, but it did bring me to this question - if I were to renounce my South African citizenship and become a US citizen, would I be thought of as an African American? Even though I am white? I really don't know.

Getting back to the main point now... I realise, of course, that the word "black" has negative connotations in the US that date back a long way. I avoid using the term around African Americans for this very reason, unless they indicate to me that they are okay with it. However, I sometimes wonder if all the worrying over its usage is actually worth it in this day and age, considering that it isn't really a big deal in certain African countries that have had similar (if not worse) racial conflict. I know it probably isn't my place to say that, and I really hope I haven't offended anyone by suggesting that it shouldn't be a taboo word...but I just thought I'd throw it out there.

I think the key here is that you're coming from a different cultural perspective.

It's not actually downright offensive to use the term "black" in the United States. Uberbeaver's analysis is pretty much dead-on in terms how "African American" and "black" are used in the U.S. I wouldn't worry too much about offending anyone (other than really radical folk with a chip on their shoulder--but there really aren't that many of them) by using the term black. Again I'm not sure why African American came into vogue as the more formal "official" term. As I mentioned, it might be because (unlike in South Africa) "black" has been on occasion used in a perjorative sense. . .e.g. "get your black ass over here" or "these blacks are getting real uppity these days" or perhaps--and maybe I'm stretching here-the association with terms like "darkie".

As to who is more "African"--I wouldn't worry about that silly woman. As you've rightly recognized she's hardly representative of the views of most African-Americans.

And based on the definition of African American in the United States, no you would not be considered an African-American if you became a U.S. citizen. The term in the U.S. is an ethnic term not one of national origin.

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Old 07-26-2008, 04:47 AM   #17
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Sometimes it happens that I read one or two Youtube comments and something really strange is going on there. Somehow only the weirdest people comment there with the most stupid remarks that go beyong belief.

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Old 07-26-2008, 09:32 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
I As I mentioned, it might be because (unlike in South Africa) "black" has been on occasion used in a perjorative sense. . .e.g. "get your black ass over here" or "these blacks are getting real uppity these days" or perhaps--and maybe I'm stretching here-the association with terms like "darkie".

thinking about this, it does seem to me that i would call myself, and others, "gay" in a heartbeat and not think twice, but if someone were to refer to "the gays" it comes off as somewhat patronizing. likewise, i'd never hesitate for a moment to describe someone as "black" or "white," but to talk about "the blacks" seems totally different.

thems just thoughts.
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:58 AM   #19
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Good point Irvine......I think when groups of people are referred to as "the or those" it clumps everyone into the same mold. Instead of being viewed as individuals. And it can have negative results. Unless it is done in a positive light. Such as, the Irish came to America and worked hard. Building roads, subways systems and along with the Chinese, the railroads. Gay men and women in the military have bravely sacrificed their lives to preserve our freedom. The African Americans have made numerous contributions to Science, Medical and Political frameworks and etc.

You get my point.

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