11ahleven Advertising 11

Being Black… What’s the difference between being Black and African-American? What does it mean to be African American? Isn’t it the same as being Black American? What’s the difference?

Both terms refer to a race of people, likely dark skinned. African American and Black American are both used to describe Americans who have African heritage.

Now, this confuses most people and they are uncertain which terminology is racially correct when addressing men and women of color. Keep reading to find out the differences.

Who are African Americans?

African-American or as it was previously coined, Afro-American, is the best way to describe someone who is Black American. Black American is an old school term which was popular during the late ’60s and 1970s alongside the Civil Rights Movement.

Afro-American was thought to be better than Negro or Black. Then merged Afro or African American into the ’80s.

People of African lineage believe they own the rights to call themselves African American or as it was called Afro-American. In light of this, the distinction among immigrants from the Caribbean or Haiti or Ghana is slight.

Some don’t use the word ‘Black’ because it refers to slavery and the people prefer African American as a form of respect or special recognition.

The African American is normally a dark skin but the term could relate to someone who has light skin but only in comparison to someone who is European or pale (Caucasian). As you can see, there isn’t much difference between African American and being Black Americans. Which label do you fall under?

Who are Black Americans?

When someone is termed Black American it’s talking about a person who does not have slaves in their bloodline or genetic background. These are the people who do not have a connection with the African immigrants or those brought over on slave boats.

A person who has a dark complexion stemming from the islands (Caribbean) is also thought to be Black American.

I believe I am Black American but some believe all Black people came over by force and exists solely in American because of this and everyone who is Black is African American. Society places anyone with dark skin in the box next to African American, but that’s not exactly right.

In my opinion, there was a term that correctly identified us all but we are not even called Colored people anymore, and now, I’m sure to be Colored in American is a disgrace to most Black Americans or African Americans.

How We Became Colored

Being Black, I look at my people and I see all shades of black, brown, red, yellow, tan and beige. I am a woman of color; a mixture, according to my mother, of Native American (Black Cherokee Indian), Black American (she refuses the idea of being a slave child) and Caucasian (because a White man impregnated a Black ancestor, of course, on my dad’s side of the family).

The latter could be true in my case as the only memory I have of my grandfather (my father’s father) was at his funeral in which I saw what looked like a White man.  Can you imagine my confusion as a “lap” child?  How could this be when all I knew was being Black?

As time moved on, I began to notice other people and their skin color.  Some of my mother’s sisters were an off-white, tan or the color of a hen egg and some were able to pass off as a White woman. Did they have the same mother and father? 

How can they be sisters if they were all different women of color or shades of Black?

Being Black in America

Being Black American sounds a bit more complicated than being African American. At least, if you’re an African American, you know where you’re from. Being Black in America means your roots could begin anywhere and with almost anybody.

Smokey Robinson does a great and humorous interpretation of being Black in America. Take a look at the excerpts of his poem below. Of course, you can view it on YouTube. He calls the poem

“I love being Black”

“I love being Black.
I love being called Black.
I love being called an American.
I love being called a Black American, but as a Black man in this country, I think it’s a shame
That every few years, we get a change of name.

Since those first ships arrived here from African that came across the sea
There were already Black men in this country who were free…

And then master started trippin’ and doing his midnight tipping…
And at the same time, the Black men in the country who were free,
Were mating with the tribes like the Apache and the Cherokee
And as a result of all that, we’re a parade of every shade….

The Black African people were first on the scene,
So for what it’s worth, the Black African people were the first on earth…
And if Adam was Black and Eve was Black,
Then that kind of makes it a natural fact that everybody in America is an African American….

And if one drop of Black blood makes you Black like they say,
Then everybody’s Black anyway…

So quit trying to change my identity
I’m already who I was meant to be
I’m a Black American, born and raised…

Cause I’m proud to be Black and I ain’t never lived in Africa…

Then, we were called colored, but… everybody’s one color or another
And I think it’s a shame that we hold that against one another.

And if you go to Africa in search of your race,
You’ll find out quick you’re not an African American,
You’re just a Black American in Africa takin’ up space…

We are the only people whose name is always a trend.
Look at all the different colors of our skin-
Black is not our color. It’s our core.”


To simplify matters, I think it should be one term used to describe everyone and that is ‘Colored’ because we all are, including White people.  If we were called Colored people, then it would eliminate some forms of separation and discrimination based on the face we’re all the same race and at the end of the day, aren’t we the same?

We eat, drink water, provide for our family, put on our pants one leg at a time, cry and bleed and we do this because we are people and not a name. The only thing that separates us is a name, whether you’re Black American, African American, Asian American, Mexican American or whatever the case may be.

Read more: Slate.com http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2014/07/black_american_versus_african_american_why_i_prefer_to_be_called_a_black.html


You May Also Like