Excerpts like the following bothered me a little bit. I'm a Black man myself, by the way.
"I prefer to be called black," said Shawn Smith, an accountant from Houston. "How I really feel is, I'm American."
"I don't like African-American. It denotes something else to me than who I am," said Smith, whose parents are from Mississippi and North Carolina. "I can't recall any of them telling me anything about Africa. They told me a whole lot about where they grew up in Macomb County and Shelby, N.C."
Gibré George, an entrepreneur from Miami, started a Facebook page called "Don't Call Me African-American" on a whim. It now has about 300 "likes."
"We respect our African heritage, but that term is not really us," George said. "We're several generations down the line. If anyone were to ship us back to Africa, we'd be like fish out of water."
"It just doesn't sit well with a younger generation of black people," continued George, who is 38. "Africa was a long time ago. Are we always going to be tethered to Africa? Spiritually I'm American. When the war starts, I'm fighting for America."
I knew the story would be full of confusion as most stories on "race" are. I'm not personally comfortable in relegating Africa as "the past". Like it's something us Black folks should shove into the attic. I also understood the confusion from people on the outside looking in. I can hear people saying, "Well doggone! What the hell do you people want us to call you?! Make up your mind for goodness sake!"
So I made a post to clarify & educate everybody. Black folks & everybody else on the outside looking in.
Yahoo sucks of course & the post wouldn't show up no matter how many times I posted it. I finally got it to post just now long after the story left the Yahoo home page feature story promotion.
So I brought it here where perhaps better discussion & insight can be had. Let me know what you think about it.
OK to clarify. I'm Black & there's nothing wrong with the descriptives of African-American, Negro, Black or Colored in my eyes. I refer to myself as "Black" because it's just simpler to say. Less syllables than the 7-syllable African-American. That just takes too long to say. BUT I love the feel of African-American because we ARE connected to Africa. I think that is VERY important. The phrase of the African Diaspora to represent all those semi-recent descendants of Africa spread around the world.
The words Negro & Black mean the same thing—the color black. And African people were named this because of their dark skins which were so deeply brown that they appeared virtually black. But for the descendants who to differing degrees are mixed with White (Europeans), Native Americans, Asians, & who knows, what's "black" about their skins? They're more tan or brown or bronze or beige or even sometimes peach! Some "Black" people have skin colors more close to "White" people. That's why the word Colored or People of Color makes more sense in this instance. But then is People of Color inclusive OF those Asians, Polynesians, Native Americans, Hispanics, Indians (India), Middle Easterners, basically anybody with a significant degree of melanin in their skin? It CAN. So that's not always the best name to signify those African descendants.
The way I see Black is shorthand code for Africans and those of MODERN African descent (since originally we're ALL descended from Africa). Black covers not only the skin color of the original Africans but the facial features, hair textures of those of modern African descent. Even with light beige skins, some of the African hair textures & facial contours may still show. However, Africa is a continent & there are many Black/Negroid type of faces. You can see how the Whites, Asians, & all other groups may have descended & evolved when you look at the phenotypes in Africa.
Outside of this Black AND African-American also can be a coverall term to specify the various cultural practices of those African descendants. The music, the food, the languages, the dialects, the religions, the political views. Some African-Americans are Americans who descended from the African slaves in the United States. Some are descendants of African slaves in the American continents, North & South America like Jamaicans, Bahamians, Haitians, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Colombians, Panamanians, & Brazillians. Some are (non-American slave descended) African immigrants to America from Sudan, Kenya, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Egypt, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa.
But the best term for this in my opinion is Pan-African. African from Africa & Beyond.
At the end of the day, all of these descriptions are incomplete. No label is all-encompassing. Human beings are multi-faceted & are many things at once. In case of doubt, just refer to us with respect when you talk to us or about us. Like every other human being. We got Black History Month, the United Negro College Fund, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and African-American studies at colleges. It's all the same thing. The whole thing is about respect.