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Friday, October 21, 2011

African American

The use of the taxonomic category African American fundamentally reflects the historic and contemporary systems of racial stratification in American society. The term "African American," as a categorical descriptor, includes many different segments of the American population referred to as "Black" or Americans of African ancestry. It is also a product of the group self-definition process in which African Americans have historically engaged as an expression of identity, power, defiance, pride, and the struggle for human rights. These designations were often in contradistinction to official government classifications and popular characterizations, which frequently reflected prevailing ideas about white supremacy intended to denigrate African Americans.

One reason for the attention African Americans have given to group designations is that group classifications by the white majority were highly instrumental in attempting to justify slavery, deny basic human rights, and restrain social opportunities.  About 30 million persons were identified as African American in the U.S. Census of 1990.

Being classified as African American is quite significant because it reflects an important social group transformation and reality in terms of group identity, political orientation, life chances or social opportunity, normative standards and lifestyles, and discriminatory behavior. It is only when the reality of racial classification carries little social impact that the term will become obsolete. At the present time, it is unlikely that serious consideration can be given to eliminating the use of racial designations such as "African American."  (Answers)

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