Win a copy of Modern JavaScript for the Impatient this week in the Server-Side JavaScript and NodeJS forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
programming forums Java Mobile Certification Databases Caching Books Engineering Micro Controllers OS Languages Paradigms IDEs Build Tools Frameworks Application Servers Open Source This Site Careers Other all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
Marshals:
  • Campbell Ritchie
  • Ron McLeod
  • Paul Clapham
  • Bear Bibeault
  • Junilu Lacar
Sheriffs:
  • Jeanne Boyarsky
  • Tim Cooke
  • Henry Wong
Saloon Keepers:
  • Tim Moores
  • Stephan van Hulst
  • Tim Holloway
  • salvin francis
  • Frits Walraven
Bartenders:
  • Scott Selikoff
  • Piet Souris
  • Carey Brown

Does one have to be black to be African American?

 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 382
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm not being facetious. My intent is not of offend anyone. This is a genuine question.
Omaha School Incident
This report got me thinking? If Italian Americans are Americans who came (or whose ancestors came) from Italy, If Indian Americans are Americans who came (or whose ancestors came) from India, ...
then why is African American an American who must be a black man/woman who came (or whose ancestors came) from the African continent? There are white folk in parts of the African continent who are now Africans (not Europeans any more).
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 5093
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
because blacks themselves are the racists in this.
They use the term 'African American' to set themselves apart from the general population and form a group mentality of 'us versus them'.
People from North Africa (who are NOT black) would never be accepted as 'African American' while people from parts of Oceania and Asia (who are naturally black or dark brown) are.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 117
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow, what a can of worms! But that's good in that people are challenging what it means to be of a race and what it means to be black or African American. The more you look at it, the more absurd it seems. I personally know some very white blacks and some very dark whites!
Unfortunately, American history and society now is based VERY MUCH on race. Many scholars have contended that eliminating race would cause a collapse in many of our most treasured institutions because they were based on racial ideas when they started.
Race based awards, policies and all that seek to "correct the past" by helping those who have been hurt by racist past attitudes. Unfortunately, those new race based awards/policies also serve to perpetuate the system of racial difference.
Hence the backlash from "whites" or people who perceive themselves to be disadvantaged by race based awards/policies (and it's expected). In fact, there is a very critical "black" scholar who contends that America will revert back to a racist, white dominated, system if we do not stop these race based awards/policies due to the backlash.
My opinion? I think we need to stop race based awards/policies but concentrate our efforts on helping the poor (some of whom are poor because of the racist past of America). I wouldn't mind having an award for someone who got good grades and whose family earns less than average...something to that effect.
Also, the poor white man really gets screwed...that's not fair either.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 168
Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Why does the word American only refers to something/someone from a country called United States of America? America is a continent. Why can't we call Canadian citizens or Peruvian citizens American?
[ January 24, 2004: Message edited by: Yosi Hendarsjah ]
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 541
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They wouldn't want you to
 
slicker
Posts: 1108
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The whole 'African American' naming is not such a black and white issue. (no pun intended)
Think of this: A 16 year old female may be called a women in some circles: i.e. some cultures, some doctor's offices, some community groups. YET, if I were to tell my buddies a local bar is crawling with "women" and it turned out to be a sweet sixteen party, well... they wouldn't be too happy.
My point here is to not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
So back to African Americans. A VERY big note to make is that most of the descendants of the slaves simply do not know what country of origin they are from, due to the nature of slavery. That is a HUGE issue here in the US, where folks celebrate their heritage. In order for the Black community to fill the void they coined 'African American'. It is a unique grouping. I would never say I'm European American as I'm Irish American. Why would I? But I'm happy that the African American community can at least answer the question of their heritage.
I would guess a Northern African dude would probably call himself Morrocan, or Tunisian, or Algerian, etc. I don't think they'd end up with a big problem. BUT lets throw a monkey wrench into the works: A person from one of the Islands or Jamaica may claim to be Jamaican, etc in some circles AND African American in others. Oh Lord, the same phrase for two different types of meanings. It's usually easy to figure it out.
Get this: My children may be African American and yet neither my wife nor I are African American. I'm certainly American, so therefore my child is American. My wife is of African descent, by way of England, and has got the color to go along with it, yet she doesn't claim to be African American because she's so bloody proud to be British. It is quite likely that my soon-to-be child will decide that he or she is African American, as well as being British, Nigerian and Irish. If he or she does not claim to have African American roots, it may appear that they would be guilty of looking down on other black folks or perhaps of being ashamed. So you see it is not so black and white.
One thing I get in some of the other postings is the sense of malice or confrontation associated with the term 'African American' and I just don't see it that way. Not here in NYC anyway.
 
mister krabs
Posts: 13974
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Yosi Hendarsjah:
Why does the word American only refers to something/someone from a country called United States of America? America is a continent. Why can't we call Canadian citizens or Peruvian citizens American?


Because "United Statesians" sounds awful. People from Canada are Canadians. People from Peru are Peruvians. What would you call people from the USA if not "Americans"?
 
Wanderer
Posts: 18671
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Regarding Yosi's comment on what "America" means - see this old discussion, specifically starting with the post from Zkr Ryz near the end of the first page. Basically yeah, there are some problems with they way the term is used, but it's unlikely to change anytime soon.
As for the main topic here - Jeroen, you might want to tone down the generalizations a bit. There are complex issues here, and it's not as if all African Americans are of one mind here, any more than any other group is of one mind. Nor is there something inherently wrong with having a term to describe a group with a certain amount of shared history and experiences. I think that most commonly when people in the US say "African American" or "black" they're looking for a term to describe descendents of Africans who were enslaved in the US. Is it useful to have a term for this or not? Maybe some people will use the term to promote divisiveness, true, and that's not a good thing IMO. But there are also plenty of times where we benefit from talking about race issues. Not all problems go away by not talking about them.
If we accept that it's useful to have a term for descendants of Africans who were enslaved in the US, what term should it be? That's a long discussion in itself, but for now I'll just say that there are some problems with all the terms I've heard, but "African American" works pretty well, and is the de facto standard now in the US (though "black" is also in widespread use).
 
Tim Baker
Ranch Hand
Posts: 541
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Because "United Statesians" sounds awful. People from Canada are Canadians. People from Peru are Peruvians. What would you call people from the USA if not "Americans"?


Yanks
 
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Posts: 13974
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Tim Baker:
Yanks


Try calling a person from Alabama a "Yank" and then see how long it takes to remove his foot from your butt.
"Yankee" is a term used to identify people who either (1) resided in the northern states of the USA especially during the period of the Civil War or (2) play baseball for an American League team in NYC.
 
John Dunn
slicker
Posts: 1108
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Great link describing the multi-faceted term: Yankee
I am quite proud when I'm called Yank. 'specially in the South! I love to remind the folks down there that we won that sh**.
Now, if the Yanks won as often as the Mets, I might not feel so good...
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 179
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Yosi Hendarsjah:
Why does the word American only refers to something/someone from a country called United States of America? America is a continent. Why can't we call Canadian citizens or Peruvian citizens American?


Well I don't know about the Peruvians, but Canadians get really irritated when anyone calls them an american.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 400
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My girlfriend is peruvian - she would not be happy to be referred to as American. Amongst latinos there are huge differences - for instance cubans can be very dark, but in Colombia you can find many blonde women with green eyes.
I always found the term "African American" to be ridiculously twee.
 
Steven Broadbent
Ranch Hand
Posts: 400
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And my girlfriend would sometimes say that I am a European....grrr.....
 
Yosi Hendarsjah
Ranch Hand
Posts: 168
Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Steven Broadbent:
And my girlfriend would sometimes say that I am a European....grrr.....


What do you mean by '....grrr....'? You don't like your girlfriend call you European?
 
Steven Broadbent
Ranch Hand
Posts: 400
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes and no. Because I am English...not quite the same as being European.
 
Sadanand Murthy
Ranch Hand
Posts: 382
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Yosi Hendarsjah:
Why does the word American only refers to something/someone from a country called United States of America? America is a continent. Why can't we call Canadian citizens or Peruvian citizens American?
[ January 24, 2004: Message edited by: Yosi Hendarsjah ]


America is not a continent. North America is. As is South America. So the Canadians can be called North Americans and I don't think they will be offended. Or will they?
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1408
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
English spelling and pronunciation doesn't make sense. So why should the vocabulary?
English spelling is based on obsolete pronunciations from multiple centuries ago. Similarly, the term "American" dates back 250 years to distinguish English subjects living in England's American colonies from other Englishmen. Only habit and tradition justifies its continued use today, even though it is not logically precise when used in today's global context.
Incidently, the term "yankee" came about because so many American colonists were of Dutch or German background (Dutch in New York, German in Pennsylvania), and "yankee" was a common Germanic nickname. (Yiddish is based on medieval German, and I know that Yiddish speaking Jews often refer to someone named "Jacob" as "Yankel").
When I was growing up in the small-town deep South, disdain for "yankees" (i.e., disdain for people from states that opposed the Confederacy during the Civil War) was still pretty strong. (But now that most Southerners have surrendered not just militarily but also philosophically on racial issues, I guess there's no longer any point to hating yankees. Now it's more the yankees who despise the southerners, abusing them with stereotypes about incest, bad teeth, and illiteracy.
[ January 26, 2004: Message edited by: Frank Silbermann ]
 
Thomas Paul
mister krabs
Posts: 13974
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Frank Silbermann:
Now it's more the yankees who despise the southerners, abusing them with stereotypes about incest, bad teeth, and illiteracy.

A recent study showed that people from West Virginia and Kentucky have the least teeth among American adults.
 
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand
Posts: 5093
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Dunn:
If he or she does not claim to have African American roots, it may appear that they would be guilty of looking down on other black folks or perhaps of being ashamed. So you see it is not so black and white.


In other words, a group your child might not even WANT to be associated with forces him/her to call him/herself "African American" because if (s)he doesn't they will consider him/her racist?
Kinda weird isn't it?

As for the main topic here - Jeroen, you might want to tone down the generalizations a bit. There are complex issues here, and it's not as if all African Americans are of one mind here, any more than any other group is of one mind. Nor is there something inherently wrong with having a term to describe a group with a certain amount of shared history and experiences.


I know not all blacks are of one mind in this. But the entire term "African American" is abused mainly by groups of blacks to differentiate themselves and claim all kinds of benefits by playing on sensitivities in the general population resulting from fear of being considered racist.
I think the shared history of those who openly call themselves "African American" is very very little.
By now there have been so many dark-skinned (let's be politically correct) immigrants who are not in the least descended from African slaves that that heritage can no longer be claimed as a uniting factor.
At this stage the term is used in order to artificially set these people apart from the general population by the leaders of certain black American groups and those others in US society who want to be seen as politically correct.
I think you will notice on looking at it from the outside (as I am) that most references to African Americans are related to inner city gangs and other fringe groups, whereas the average working class black American (or upper class, where they also exist in ever larger numbers) does not place much emphasis on his or her skincolour at all.
This is as it should be, a society where the colour of your skin does not matter not because there's a law that says it doesn't matter but because people really don't mind.
As long as there are laws placing one group over another (as blacks are currently placed over whites in many ways by giving them preferential treatment) there will be dissent.
That in turn leads to race riots and hatred between ethnic groups.
In the extreme it can lead to Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.
 
Jeroen Wenting
Ranch Hand
Posts: 5093
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Thomas Paul:

Try calling a person from Alabama a "Yank" and then see how long it takes to remove his foot from your butt.
"Yankee" is a term used to identify people who either (1) resided in the northern states of the USA especially during the period of the Civil War or (2) play baseball for an American League team in NYC.


I've always thought the term "Yankee" derives from the Mexican term "Yangui" for the Americans during the US/Mexico war (or even earlier, but at least originates in Spanish).
 
Jim Yingst
Wanderer
Posts: 18671
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yanqui derives from Yankee, which was used during the US Revolutionary War in the song Yankee Doodle, well before US/Mexico. Later when the South seceded from the Union, they stopped being Yankees, from their perspective, and the term evolved to mean the Northern states, specifically. Though outside the US, Brits and others refer to "Yanks", presumably meaning any American.
[ January 27, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 2823
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Do you know what the difference between a Yankee and a damn Yankee.
The Yankee knew enough to go back home.
 
John Dunn
slicker
Posts: 1108
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by John Dunn:
If he or she does not claim to have African American roots, it may appear that they would be guilty of looking down on other black folks or perhaps of being ashamed. So you see it is not so black and white.
posted by JW:
In other words, a group your child might not even WANT to be associated with forces him/her to call him/herself "African American" because if (s)he doesn't they will consider him/her racist?
Kinda weird isn't it?

Nope. not really too weird for kids... :roll:
Depends on the situation JW. You're attributing more animosity than is valid AND simplifing a much more complex situation.
As for whether my child may claim African American... well I say 'may' because it is their choice. If he or she is VERY dark they may choose the African American label and skip all the explaining. If not then they may fell no connection and not bring it up. I don't really know yet.
I'm not going to dictate how my child catagorizes themself. It is one of the luxuries of being alive.
I'm not sure if you realize this but in the African American community, like so many other communities, there is sub-classing done amongst themselves. light skin, dark skin, etc etc So in this imperfect world we live in not claiming African American, Jewish, Irish, American, etc, etc could land one in trouble. My kid will have their whole life to work out a strategy and navigate through any potential headaches.
It no way near as big a deal as you make it. UNLESS, you believe Al Sharption is a prophet.
 
Frank Silbermann
Ranch Hand
Posts: 1408
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

me: Now it's more the yankees who despise the southerners, abusing them with stereotypes about incest, bad teeth, and illiteracy.
Thomas Paul: A recent study showed that people from West Virginia and Kentucky have the least teeth among American adults.


Well, sure; but which deprecatory racial/religious/ethnic stereotypes _aren't_ based on an element of truth?
 
Mark Ju
Ranch Hand
Posts: 117
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Stereotypes are based on elements that oppress the subject. Ok, oppress is a strong word, but it's based on only the elements of truth that seek to degrade the subject. Even in the cases where it appears positive, it is no more appealing than a back handed compliment.
 
Yosi Hendarsjah
Ranch Hand
Posts: 168
Java
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Originally posted by Sadanand Murthy:

America is not a continent. North America is. As is South America.


What I learned when I was in elementary school is that the Earth has
five continents: Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, and America. That's why on the Olympics flag there are only five colored rings. They represents the continents (the red one is for America). Later I know the sixth continent, the Antartica.
 
Ranch Hand
Posts: 634
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
These are the continents I learned about...
7 continents
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic