What is an African-American?

Tariq has a very thorough post at his blog expanding on the question of what it means to be African American and whether Obama qualifies to claim that ethnic heritage or not. I think the post expands very well on the earlier discussion and i find myself in agreement now that the term African American does have a special meaning that is best left undiluted. I do still think that the self-identity of AA in the US needs to ultimately free itself of slavery’s shadow, much like the self-identity of Jews needs to free itself of the Holocaust, but in practice I don't know how practical that is.

It must be noted however that the term AA will continue to be used as a broad brush. So i think in one sense if ethnic AA's try to articulate their "ownership" of the term African-American, they do risk being tarred (unfairly) as making the “black enough” argument. It might be better to make the argument in the abstract for the term AA, but adopting a more specific label for pragmatisms’ sake. I personally think “Black American” is more descriptive since Africa, per se, is not really central to the identity in question.

(Note - comments closed here. Please discuss this post at Talk Islam).

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