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OPINION: Call me ‘black’ not ‘African American’

We+need+to+start+using+black+more+than+we+use+African+American+when+describing+a+black+person.+Black+is+a+term+that+people+should+not+be+afraid+to+use+and+does+not+need+to+become+a+racial+slur.+
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OPINION: Call me ‘black’ not ‘African American’

We need to start using black more than we use African American when describing a black person. Black is a term that people should not be afraid to use and does not need to become a racial slur.

We need to start using black more than we use African American when describing a black person. Black is a term that people should not be afraid to use and does not need to become a racial slur.

Photo via Canva

We need to start using black more than we use African American when describing a black person. Black is a term that people should not be afraid to use and does not need to become a racial slur.

Photo via Canva

Photo via Canva

We need to start using black more than we use African American when describing a black person. Black is a term that people should not be afraid to use and does not need to become a racial slur.

By Jordan Owens, Starr's Mill High School

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It seems that the word black has turned into a word people are afraid to use to describe a black person. Instead, they use African American. While there is nothing wrong with describing a black person as African American, some would rather just be called black because that is the term they most relate with.

As a black person, I do not have solid proof that I have African ancestors, and honestly, I do not think that many black people do either. Instead, they assume that they are African American because that’s what their parents have always told them.

Recently, I’ve been questioning my actual heritage and if I am actually African American. On my mother’s side, I know that my great-grandmother’s parents have always been in the U.S. but I don’t know anything past that. Then on my father’s side, I know that his great-grandparents immigrated here in the 1920s, but I do not know from where.

One thing that I am completely sure of when I look in the mirror, however, is that I am black.

While there is nothing wrong with describing a black person as African American, some would rather just be called black because that is the term they most relate with.”

— Staff Writer Jordan Owens

I find it weird that when someone starts to say the word black they cut themselves off and instead use African American, as if scared to be offensive. It makes it seem like black is a slur, when it is not. If you are scared to use the word, it makes me think that when you do say the word black, the words that follow it could be something offensive.

Why does it have to be that every time someone says “African American” that has to mean that a person is black? There are other people who live in Africa that are not black, and there are people in America who are black but do not have clear African ancestry.  

Being black does not necessarily mean from Africa. Using the term African American implies that they or someone from their immediate family was born in Africa.

Even if some of the black people have family from Africa, they might be generations down the line and might not even know about their heritage. So it seems offensive when getting asked comments like, “What part of Africa is your family from?” or told “I bet you have a lot of African paintings and artifacts in your house. All the African Americans I know do.”

It’s not just limited to using black, people can prefer to identify as person of color, but it’s important to keep in mind that “person of color” encompasses all non-whites, not just black people.

Saying someone is black is not a racial slur, so stop treating it like one.

Opinions expressed in editorials are those of the writer(s).  These views may not represent the adviser, The Prowler, advertisers/sponsors, the Starr’s Mill High School administration or staff , or Fayette County Public Schools as a whole.  Please see our FAQs for more information pertaining to the rights of The Prowler’s staff members.

This story was originally published on The Prowler on October 29, 2018.

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