Which is preferred, Black or African American?

Book cover for 100 Questions & Answers About African Americans
Either can be correct. Gallup polling since 1991 has shown that half to two-thirds of African American and Black respondents did not have a preference. Although the terms are not necessarily synonymous, it can come down to individual preferences about how people wish to identify themselves. Black and African American have replaced older terms such as Colored and Negro that were imposed by others. Self-identification might be influenced by a long history of colonialism, enslavement, imposed racial categories and cultural dispossession.

Why do some people prefer to identify as Black?
The reasons vary. Some people may identify as Black because they do not feel connected to the American state. Others may identify as Black because they do not identify with the African continent. There are various historical, social, and political reasons why one might identify as Black rather than African American. Also, the term Black has historically connected people of African descent around the world.

Why do some people prefer African American?
The term arose as an alternative to Black for its similarity to hyphenated names for other American groups. Some people may identify themselves as African-American to resist Black as a socially constructed category. Others, however, may identify as African-American to assert their American identity. There are a multitude of reasons one might identify as African American.

These answers and 97 others are in “100 Questions and Answers About African Americans,” a Bias Buster guide created in a journalism class at Michigan State University. We’ll share some more from that guide and “100 Questions and Answers About the Black Church” during Black History Month.

This entry was posted in African Americans. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.