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Am I African American?? Everyone has different opinion.

13

Replies to: Am I African American?? Everyone has different opinion.

  • IBfootballerIBfootballer Registered User Posts: 2,250 Senior Member
    african american is a classification used for people of african ancestry whose ancestors or similarly-coloured predecessors in this country have faced significant discrimination because of the colour of their skin. you do not alas qualify.

    we say african-american merely as a politically correct moniker. as a south african, you should certainly have an understanding that you are not black, should have an understanding of the issues black people have faced because of the colour of their skin, and that you should not try to exploit this history.
  • missy411missy411 Registered User Posts: 92 Junior Member
    Agree with Plainsman disagree with IBfootballer,
    IMHO, I don't like the definition for African-American. Not all blacks who reside in the US have ancestors who were slaves: I'm for one am one of them, my parents are from Cameroon West Africa. And IBfootballer, I don't think the OP was 'exploiting 'the history of blacks in the US, he was asking a very reasonable question that anyone would have asked.
  • IndianaGrad65IndianaGrad65 Registered User Posts: 1,172
    If the box says black, don't check it. If the box says african american, check it. You are from africa. I know plenty of people from the carribean who do not check african american and who hate being called african american.
  • djdopeslapdjdopeslap Registered User Posts: 182 Junior Member
    I pretty much do what maxellis suggested.

    I'm in the same boat as SProctor. I'm a dual citizen of South Africa/US and I'm fluent in Afrikaans.

    Colleges object to people misrepresenting themselves. With my blonde hair and blue eyes, I know I'm not what they're looking for when they say 'African-American'. However, I usually leave race blank, if I can. I think culture is more important than pigmentation, and that race is basically a social construct and shouldn't work in my favour or against it.

    I did mark African-American on my PSATs. You wouldn't believe all of the brochures and summer program offers I received.
  • foolishpleasurefoolishpleasure Registered User Posts: 919 Member
    "I don't think the OP was 'exploiting 'the history of blacks in the US, he was asking a very reasonable question that anyone would have asked. "

    Maybe OP was't intending to "exploit" anyone or anything, but since everyone knows being urm is a hook and likewise everyone knows that at least one purpose of the question is to identify urm students, a White student's attempt to try and legitimately check the African-American box is disingenuous.

    "I think culture is more important than pigmentation, and that race is basically a social construct and shouldn't work in my favour or against it."

    Of course race is less important to members of the racially dominant/majority/normative group!! And while race may be a social construct, so is culture; in fact, what is a civilized society if not a collection of agreed-upon social constructs and social contracts?
  • mantori.suzukimantori.suzuki Registered User Posts: 3,347 Senior Member
    This is one unfortunate consequence of political correctness. The term African-American isn't properly descriptive of what it really denotes. It seems to be saying "Americans who come from Africa", but it really means "Americans who are black". I believe that an ethnic group, or any group, has the right to be called whatever they prefer. However, I think that another term, such as the now-outdated "Afro-American", might capture the spirit of being a black American better.

    I would not suggest that we use such terms as Negro, which have obviously taken on a racist connotation, but Afro-American still seems like a viable term to me. Is it? Or does it in fact have racist connotations that I'm not aware of? And is the term "black Americans" acceptable? Please educate me.
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,917 Senior Member
    I'm sorry, but one of the LAST people who should get benefits from being an "African American" is a white South African. If I were an adcom, and saw that a white South African was identifying himself as an "African American," that application would be on its way to the circular file without further ado.
  • BeautifulNerd219BeautifulNerd219 Registered User Posts: 862 Member
    LOL^^^ I'm guessing you're saying this b/c of the blatant racism in South Africa, and apartheid acts of the past (I don't think it's as bad now, is it?). I understand your point.
  • HuntHunt Registered User Posts: 26,917 Senior Member
    No, it's not as bad now, certainly, but the main reason we have preferences for African-Americans is the history of oppression of blacks in this country...to give that preference to the scion of oppressors from South Africa (even if he himself is not an oppressor) would be really absurd.
  • SirensongSirensong User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 963 Member
    Honestly, I think that logically you are an African American, even though colleges probably will not see it that way. If my ancestors were from Egypt and then ended up in Palestine before being dispersed to Poland where they lived for hundreds of years, I would consider myself Pole, not Egyptian. However, since the purpose of that box is to check one's URM or ORM status, they would not want you to check "African American."

    Then again, the commonapp states "If you wish to be identified with a particular ethnic group, please check all that apply:." Clearly you wish to be identified as an African American...

    PS: I don't think blacks get preference because of past oppression. My belief is that it's to increase diversity.
  • BeautifulNerd219BeautifulNerd219 Registered User Posts: 862 Member
    @Hunt- I see your point.

    I mean, I've seen users on here who WANT to list themselves under URM categories to reap the benefits from them. For example: if your mom and dad were white (of European ancestry) and moved to Mexico then had you but weren't of any Mexican descent, why would you want to check the box that says Hispanic?

    I mean it doesn't make any logical sense to do it for any other reason unless you really love the country of Mexico, but even then, that doesn't make you Mexican. I love Chinese food, but I'm not gonna say on an app that I'm Chinese.
  • foolishpleasurefoolishpleasure Registered User Posts: 919 Member
    "Honestly, I think that logically you are an African American, even though colleges probably will not see it that way."

    This is not a matter of "logic." As Sirensong posted above, this is college admissions: OP knows the adcoms are looking to identify URM students, OP knows that in the admissions context context Af-Am is a URM designation and OP is not URM - - so don't check the box. Since checking the box as Af-Am is about race, not ethnicity or culture, OP will be deliberately misleading the adcoms regarding his race (presumably to get an admissions boost).

    No one is stopping nor wants to stop OP, Sirensong or other White Africans from claiming their African "roots" - - just don't do so in a way that you know will mislead others about your race.
  • applicannotapplicannot Registered User Posts: 4,366 Senior Member
    This is one of the reasons I often (but not always) say "black" instead of African American. I mean, having a father from Africa (first gen), I am quite LITERALLY African American. So I call myself "black" OR African American. As for other people, I just call them black. Black and white may have been stigmatized terms at one point (?), but it's not the least bit offensive to me now. Really, it's not offensive to anyone I know personally, though I'm sure there are people out there. It's like the Native Americans have adopted the term American Indian and according to some possibly old hearsay, they generally actually prefer "American Indian". "Indian" might be wrong and "black" might be old slander, but I think it's fair that now it's become benign.
  • mantori.suzukimantori.suzuki Registered User Posts: 3,347 Senior Member
    My brother-in-law is American Indian, and that's what he wants to be called. He wants none of this "native American" business, even though that is, strictly speaking, a better description of his ancestry. Again, everyone deserves to be called whatever they choose. Unless it's on a government check-box. :D

    Now that I'm thinking about it...isn't it UTTERLY BIZARRE that an ENTIRE CONTINENT of people were called by the wrong name because of bad navigation, and the name has stuck for HUNDREDS OF YEARS??? Imagine if we were to discover life on Mars, but it turns out the astronauts flew the wrong direction, and so they call the people of Mars "Venusians". And then the people of Mars start calling THEMSELVES Venusians!!! What the #$&*!!??
  • applicannotapplicannot Registered User Posts: 4,366 Senior Member
    Now that I'm thinking about it...isn't it UTTERLY BIZARRE that an ENTIRE CONTINENT of people were called by the wrong name because of bad navigation, and the name has stuck for HUNDREDS OF YEARS??? Imagine if we were to discover life on Mars, but it turns out the astronauts flew the wrong direction, and so they call the people of Mars "Venusians". And then the people of Mars start calling THEMSELVES Venusians!!! What the #$&*!!??

    Imagine that an entire group of people is noted only for their skin color. They are degraded, wiped out, and forced into slavery. One hundred years after emancipation and fifty years after equality under the law - a relatively short period of time - that entire group of people doesn't mind being called by an old derogatory name.

    Imagine a little girl whose name is Bertha. People have made fun of her for that name. People stereotype her for that name. She hated it the whole time she was growing up. But finally, after many years, she'd come to terms with it. In fact, she doesn't even hate it anymore. Instead of going by her middle name, she prefers that people just go ahead and call her Bertha.

    A rose by any other name... a name is a name.
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