African Americans

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An African-American generally refers to a person who lives in the United States and speaks English, but whose ancestors were from Africa. It could also describe a first generation African immigrant who has citizenship in the United States. More rarely, it is used for people of African ancestry who live elsewhere in the Americas.

The term is usually associated with "black people". This is because of many African-Americans' dark skin due to having Sub-Saharan African ancestors. Many Africans were brought to the United States in the slave trade. Many of the U.S. population (especially in many urban or city areas) are African-American. Many others live in rural areas in the Southern United States. Detroit has the highest percent of blacks in the nation, and many live in other big cities. Cities with the highest percent of African Americans are Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans; Memphis; Miami Gardens; and Savannah, Georgia.[1] New York and Chicago have the largest population of African Americans. Other cities with a high African American population is Baltimore, Houston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baton Rouge, Washington, D.C. and Dallas. States with the highest percentage of African Americans are Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Maryland, South Carolina, Alabama, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. The British, the Dutch and the French imported African-American slaves to United States. African-American slaves worked on cotton plantations for white people in the South. Discrimination and racism against African Americans is common in the United States especially to White Americans around the Jim Crow laws along with Mexican Americans.[2] The first African slaves brought to the British colony Jamestown, Virginia were from Angola sent on a Dutch slave ship. They were kidnapped by the Portuguese.[3][4] African slaves were brought to the Americas after the genocide of Native Americans by the British settlers. Their oppression and enslavement is similar to Gypsies in Europe.[5]

Ethnicity[change | change source]

African-American refers to a specific range of diverse cultures with a common thread of ethnic connection to Africa. This term was created to describe an ethnic/cultural link to Africa for people who are American, much as in the case of Italian Americans, Irish Americans, or Polish Americans. The difference is that Italian Americans and Polish Americans know they are Americans of Italian or Polish (not general European) descent.

The 'African' in African-American acknowledges the connection to a number of African cultures, not one in particular. The 'American' shows the nationality and culture of the United States. A person born in Nigeria is still Nigerian even if he or she comes to the United States and lives here for the rest of their life. If that person wants to say that they are an American citizen, they would simply say "I am an American citizen". His American-born children could correctly call themselves Nigerian-American OR African-American.

Some Caribbeans such as Jamaicans do not identify as African American, even if they have African ancestry.[6]

Language and society[change | change source]

Neil Degrasse Tyson

With their American born children came the first generation of English speaking African Americans. But this development was not the same all over the country. For example; even today the Gullah of the Sea Islands off the Carolina and Georgia coasts still speak a language that is a blend of several African languages. They are the descendants of slaves from different countries in Africa.

In the United States when Americans say African-American or Black, they are referring to the same people. Both terms describe an ethnic group that came to exist in the United States. The Africans who were brought to America as slaves were from different nationalities and did not all speak the same language. They became a new blended ethnic group with a new language that was not their own: English.

Blacks used to be segregated in schools but since the 1960s were able to join major schools, colleges and universities. In the second half of the 20th century, reading-ability rates for blacks increased.

Miscegenation[change | change source]

African Americans have European ancestry along with Native American ancestry. African American men took Japanese women as war brides during the war in Japan.[7] Interracial marriage with white people and Hispanics such as Puerto Ricans is common.[8]

Black[change | change source]

Malcolm X

In America, and from an American point of view, the term 'Black' is often applied to other ethnic groups throughout the world who do not necessarily see themselves as Black, such as Australian Aborigenes, for example. African American culture was born in the United States and is distinct from any single African culture.

African-American is a term that many Black people chose to call themselves because they found the term "Negro" offensive.

In America there are many immigrants of mixed race that includes African descent, like Cape Verdeans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. These groups, by and large, do not think of themselves as Black or African American and object to these labels.

Many mixed race Americans also resist pressure to identify themselves as Black or White. Blasians and Afro-Hispanics also resist pressure.

Culture[change | change source]

Frank Ocean is an African American

African Americans have influenced various forms of music, including Hip hop, R&B, funk, rock and roll, soul, blues, and other contemporary American musical forms while older black forms of music included blues, doo-wop, barbershop, ragtime, bluegrass, jazz, and gospel music. Michael Jackson, an African-American pop singer, released an album called Thriller in 1982 which is the best-selling album of all time. In the nineties Beyonce Knowles became famous as the lead singer of the R&B girl band Destiny's Child. In the 2000s she started releasing music on her own. Her first album Dangerously in Love sold 11 million copies and won five Grammy Awards. African-American rappers Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Drake are considered one of the best selling artists.

Black culture has been the subject of documentaries. For example, the award-winning Black Is, Black Ain't explores black identity. Good Hair discusses the significance of having 'good hair' for black women in American culture.

There is a National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

Protestant Christianity is the most practised religion by African Americans.

Soul food is eaten by African Americans. An example of soul food is fried chicken.[9]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]