African american yoyoers

^ I’m with you. I know a few friends who you can say are ‘African American’ don’t like the political correctedness of the term “African American” and they would rather to be called ‘black’.

I’ll leave you a message real quick.

I think it is a good question, and your inquiry and my answer, might generate some bumps to help the OP get some more input.

African American describes American citizens or permanant residents who are black, and whose ancestors came from Africa to America (mostly via slave trade), and they choose to identify as such. Whether that term was created by whites to describe blacks, or by blacks to describe themselves is unknown. But, the term caught on, and is a very American term, which is part of what confuses you.

A black person who lives in America, but was born in Jamaica may not identify as African American. If they were born in Jamaica, they would not want to embrace the term African American. They would consider themselves “Jamaican.” That is why every black person you might happen to see in America is not necessarily African American. Now, I will describe in my own opinion why the term African American exists.

America, being the melting pot that it is, most people here (who are not Native American) have ancestors from other countries. What came from that is a lot of curiosity about ethnicity and race. White people in America might say they are “Irish (American)” or “Italian (American)” or “French (American).” They likely will just say “Italian” or “Irish” and such. Here, in that context they are NOT describing citizenship or nationality, they are describing their history of ethnicity. Many Asians born in America may still say they are “Chinese” or “Vietnamese” and so on. Hispanics born in America might say they are “Mexican” “Dominican” or “Puerto Rican.” Blacks born in America say “African American” because due to their history of slave trade, many cannot tell you the specific country their ancestors came from in Africa. If they knew, they would be glad to say “Nigerian” and so on. History traces origin of black Americans to West or Central Africa, but with all those countries who knows specifically? “African American” is used by those who recognize that their ancestors came from Africa to America…likely with no stop in between, and so there you have the term. There are black people in America who have parents born in Jamaica, Trinidad, Kenya, Haiti, or elsewhere who choose not to use the term “African American.” They would say they are “Jamaican” and so on. They are describing their family’s history of ethnicity.

One thing that I should make clear is that while Americans might say they are “African American” to describe their history of ethnicity, in no way are they claiming African citizenship or culture as you know it, or claiming to be less American or anything like that. They are very proud Americans and are merely describing ancestry as they know it.

When it comes to blacks in America, the history can vary, just like with white people, or Asians, so they cannot all be lumped into “African American.” The term “black” encompasses black people from whatever ancestry and history, and is far less specific. Just like the term white just desccribes white people in general, without taking ethnicity and family history into account.

I have friends who have traveled to England. I am told that there, whether black or white, you are “British.” There is no African British term there. But, due to the history of America, and the extent to which there are so many people with different ancestry, you get more specifics from us than usual. I am told it is a very “American” thing to do that. I can understand why it confuses you, because if I were in your shoes, I would be confused too.

Stefan commented that he is not “African.”. True. Black people here do not call themselves “African” either. That word American after it is significant. Black people, no matter where they live now, have African ancestry. That is merely what the word “African” means in the term “African American” here. We embrace that our ancestors came from the continent of Africa. African Americans do not claim to be “African” or have citizenship or nationality in an African country. They are merely describing their history of ethnicity to other Americans.

Americans are proud, but we like to describe our history of ethnicity. Only living here for a period would have you fully realize to what degree it is true. I have learned from friends who are well traveled, that it is unique to America. Blacks ask about ancestry in this country like all other races. On the east coast of this country, you mostly hear “African American,” “Jamaican,” “Trinidadian,” “Haitian.” I’ve met a few Nigerians and Kenyans here for school, but not many Africans. Most black people where I live identify as African American, except those with family history from the Carribean or a known African country. But, “black” encompasses them all, including black hispanics.

I hope that helped a bit. But, the real answer is, “it’s an American thing,” and our history created that in a way. African American merely describes certain black people in America who share certain history.

For more interesting info, go to and type in African American. They probably describe better than I do. Thanks for asking, most people are afraid to ask. :wink:


^^ Excellent post!!

Being white I can say that most white people call black people African American because they think calling someone black is wrong or not socially acceptable.

I see this behavior all the time where I work. We have a huge melting pot of employees and many of the white employees refer to their black co-workers as African American BUT they (the black workers) call themselves black…

I myself am a white American with Italian, Frech Canadian, Irish and English ethnicity…

1 Like

Talked to my priest,he said that they wanted to sound politically correct but any black person no matter where they are from can be presented. Also the reason I wanted them to be sponsored,maybe have a sig,and win contest is because it would be easier to fill in the accomplishment paragraph and lasting change they left. sorry for being really lazy but after presentation I had a freestyle with my hot for 1 minute wanted to get over stage fright.

1 Like

Thanks for the post, Totalartist!

If what you suggest is true: that many Americans enjoy identifying or feel the need to identify their ancestry by calling themselves French/Italian/Irisg-American (or whichever country their ancestry comes from), then your theory makes perfect sense… That they identify that their ancestry is African, but can’t tell you where, exactly.

It still seems very odd to me, that after a couple hundred years people will still go to such lengths to make a point of their ancestry, but I do understand why black Americans may want to label their ancestry as well, when so many others are labelling their own.

1 Like

Yes, thanks TA!

Frank, if you want to see a group of Americans keen on identifying ancestry, look no further than the Irish descendants… all over the U.S., really, but particularly in New York and Boston.


Thank you. I posted because while America is a melting pot, not everyone lives with a lot of diverse people to be sure of these kinds of things. Most black people will not even correct anyone if they say “African American” as they know people just make the presumption that they are one of the “majority black” folks, as most black people in America, would fall into that African American category. Then, you have some black people who are unsure if they are comfortable with it, because the word “black” has been around for so long and the term African American while it caught on, feels “new,” or separates them from just being “American.” While there is no consensus on what people “prefer” to be called these days, you are just fine saying “black.”

If you refer to a black person as “black” it is the same if they referred to you as “white,” and there is no offense taken at all. I think America just has had some history that makes people to this day a bit uncomfortable about what to call anyone these days.

I think this young man’s priest is using African American because it is not a “color,” and he feels better using that term, although it specifically refers to the majority of black people in the country, not all black people. Black people would know he means no harm by it anyway. It has become more “politically correct” than literally correct these days. People mean well, or are well intentioned by doing it.

For example, I believe that my ancestors traveled directly from Africa to the Southern United States, and then migrated up north. The term African American would apply to me specifically, and black applies generally. I believe that the African American history that included the civil rights movement and all that was what my ancestors lived through to make this country what it is today, therefore I would embrace the term, “African American.” I would identify as black too. I am not the pro that this young man is looking for though. :wink:

Again, to those outside the country, Frodoslair and Stefan who posted, we are all very proud Americans, whether African American, Irish, Italian ancestry and so on. I think Americans sort of have “fun” knowing our roots and embracing it, and it is part of being American to have that curiosity.

1 Like

Well said well said. Thanks for explaining.


You’ve got it  ;)  I have never seen this documentary in it’s entirety, but I heard of it.  This is a good clip from it.  DNA was taken from some popular or celebrity African Americans, and it was traced back to Africa in an attempt to determine the specific country of origin.  In a few cases, they were able to pinpoint the country of origin.  There are some other interesting facts as well.  You might enjoy this:

African American is politically correct. If we are talking about race, then I consider myself black

As far as black American yoyoers, the first people that come to mind that meet some of your qualifications are…

Rick Wyatt
Harold Owens
Joe Wilson
Mark Montgomery
and myself

That’s about it.

1 Like

Has anyone ever met an African-Canadian? Nope I thought not. America is the only country that uses the country of origin-American thing.

Hmmm…I think he needed 8 names, and I think we might have gotten him enough to use for the project. :-\ I hope it helped enough. :wink:

America isn’t a country it’s a continent :wink:

North america is, so is south america, But the USA, or anything you call “america” is not. ALso, “The americas” are continentS

Sorry. I meant the United States of America:P