The Gray Wizard wrote:

> Although the term originally had political connotations (as did the
> original shift from Negro or Colored to Black), neither Black nor
> African-American carry much of those connotations any longer.
> Certainly not among African-Americans and diminishingly so among other
> Americans.

Oh, there was a shift from Negro to Black? From a linguistic perspective
that's very interesting because it strikes a sharp contrast with the
Australian situation. Over here excessive use of 'black' would be viewed
as trivialising the cultural and historical identity of the Aboriginal
people (as though it were merely a matter of colour); speaking of the
race by its proper and original name is the way to uphold that identity
(on the other hand, whites are just whites.)

The people whose ancestors were the most abused are in general the
people most proud of their heritage. For this reason I would expect the
cultural identity of black Americans to be a strong one. As often as not
this leads to a preference for the oldest and most established title.

Speaking of race and language, how about the way in which 'racist' is
adopted to different cultural situations? I understand that in America
the term is meant in the literal sense of someone who considers one race
superior to another. In Australia it's not as useful to have a word for
that attitude, so we usually adopt the term 'racism' to mean what you
might call 'culturalism' or something -- the belief that it is harmful to
compromise (ahem) the established (ahem) white community with too many
people of other cultures.

One problem is that when people are rightly accused of racism, they will
claim innocence by ducking behind the American definition, although they
know perfectly well what 'racist' means over here.

> BTW, exactly what is an "actual black American"?

I'll answer this only because it is language related, having to do
with the way in which languages provide words (like "actual") that are
basically used for emphasis. In this case, the term "actual black
American" emphasises the difference between "black American" and, say,
"some presumptious media or political figure pretending to speak on
behalf of black Americans".

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