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#1 of 27 Old 04-26-2011, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Our new son is half African American.  I was told that African American was the pc term these days but I get the feeling that black might be more common or correct.  I truely don't know but I was wondering what others had to say. 


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#2 of 27 Old 04-26-2011, 09:36 PM
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It's not simple. Some blacks dislike term AA, some AAs dislike the term black. But I think for the most part either is OK. I would use whatever feels most comfortable to you until your son is old enough to choose how he identifies.

Congrats on your adoption. Very exciting.
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#3 of 27 Old 04-26-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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personally, I say black.  I personally know black people who aren't African so I stick with a more general term.  Not to mention, no one calls me anything other than white hehe.  I figure people who want to be called African American can just tell me as such.  It seems kinder to use a more generic term if I need to talk about skin color at all than to assume all black people must be of African descent (of course, ignoring the fact that humans are all meant to have come from Africa hehe)

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#4 of 27 Old 04-26-2011, 11:19 PM
 
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I usually say black unless i know others prefer a different term. My daughter, who was raised in same-race families and usually went to all-black schools refers to herself as black. I think either term is fine.


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#5 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 01:26 AM
 
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I say black. DS is biracial (black and white), DD's and DH are black.


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#6 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 06:08 AM
 
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I use both because I think they mean very different things.

 

African American refers to my child's heritage.  His birth family is part of a rich cultural heritage, with a unique culture that developed in the U.S. during and after slavery.  His heritage is different than that of his good friends who were born in Ethiopia and immigrated as babies, or some of my students whose family came to this country a generation ago from Trinidad. 

 

Black refers to his race.

 

So, if I was making a comment about something cultural, e.g. referring to African American food, or African American music, I'd use that term, unless I truly thought what I was talking about was universal to the African diaspora.  Just like I wouldn't refer to Spaghetti or Chinese opera as "white food" or "Asian music", I'd put them in the context of a culture, Italian food, Chinese music.

 

On the other hand, if I were referring to something racial, such as caring for his hair, I wouldn't say, "I'm looking for good products for African American hair?".  I'd also use the word black to refer to organizaions such as HBCU's that are formed for all black citizens or residents of the U.S. regardless of their origins.

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#7 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 06:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much!  Our agency said to use African American but I was getting the vibe that at least around here black is more common.  Although we don't have that many black people where we live.  My DS is biracial too.


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#8 of 27 Old 04-27-2011, 01:02 PM
 
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Funny, I had the same question a while ago so I asked a friend who I consider an expert because her father is a professor of African American history. She told me that it's up to us. I prefer the term black or black American because it's more inclusive and better represents the real issue: skin color. But I've noticed that it makes other people more uncomfortable than the term African American.

 

Likewise, people are uncomfortable when I identify as white. They prefer the term Caucasian (I hate that term).

 

There's a similar issue with the terms Hispanic and Latino. I prefer the terms Latino or country-specific terms (like Mexican) rather than Hispanic, because hispanic implies the language one speaks, not their skin color or ethnic heritage, but lots of people seem to prefer the term Hispanic.

 

I dislike the term "biracial" because it implies distinct categories of race separate from social context. Basically, virtually all African Americans are "biracial" if you test their DNA. But we tend to only refer to light skinned black people as biracial, very rarely do people use the term to refer to people of other types of mixed heritages or even dark skinned black people who have some European ancestry.

 

But... my views on race are not necessarily representative of the mainstream nor are they the views most likely to lead you to a successful transracial adoption. In my view, many people still like the colorblind approach and feel more comfortable if you express colorblind views on race than if you have a more current/educated view.

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#9 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 05:15 PM
 
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Any one know where the word caucasian comes from? What is the root that makes it mean "european"... just curious. I might have to research that. I think it is a dumb word too. :-)

I am having to get comfortable with the word "black". For one, "black" people aren't black... and white people aren't white, and that has always bugged me. But like many stated it is our word in reference to a racial group.

 

I've usually said African American, but that is honestly only because I fear offending someone, and that is silly. 

Haha... just being completely honest. 

 

I might just call our new kids, either Black or Ugandan... but I know that might not be a good solution either... but that is what they are. Hum... very complicated.


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#10 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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I knew the answer but I googled it to get a more formal sounding answer hehe:

 

"Caucasian means 'resident of the Caucasus', a mountainous area formed where the European tectonic plate is making contact with the Arabian tectonic plate. This place is believed to be the ancestral origin of White man, which is why whites are called caucasians."  (It's from wikianswers or whatever)

 

As for saying 'black,'  My friend's husband is from the Dominican Republic.  They look black.  Calling him and his children 'African American' might be what many would first think of but it would be incorrect.  He isn't African American, He is Dominican.  Sure, black... but not African.  Unfortunately, he experiences a lot of racism, including a neighbor not allowing their kids to play with his.  I guess it really isn't the African bit, but only the skin pigment bit that makes people so hateful.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marcimama View Post

Any one know where the word caucasian comes from? What is the root that makes it mean "european"... just curious. I might have to research that. I think it is a dumb word too. :-)

I am having to get comfortable with the word "black". For one, "black" people aren't black... and white people aren't white, and that has always bugged me. But like many stated it is our word in reference to a racial group.

 

I've usually said African American, but that is honestly only because I fear offending someone, and that is silly. 

Haha... just being completely honest. 

 

I might just call our new kids, either Black or Ugandan... but I know that might not be a good solution either... but that is what they are. Hum... very complicated.

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#11 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 09:26 PM
 
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I have thought that African American was the only PC term, but one of our best friends said, "I'm not from Africa. I'm black."  Got it.  ;)


 


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#12 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 09:50 PM
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Honestly, I think the term "PC" is more problematic than either African-American or black. The term "PC" implies an excessive or inappropriate concern with avoiding possibly offensive language, and the idea that this is a question of "PC-ness" bothers me. I see it as a question of respect and politeness. When one needs to use a term to describe someone's race (and more often than not, it's not), I think it's respectful and polite to use the term that person prefers - and if that person is an infant, then the term others of that race prefer. In my experience that's most often been black rather than African-American, but it varies.

 
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#13 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 10:59 PM
 
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I just read a huge thing somewhere (hmmm, where WAS that?) where lots of black people were annoyed with the AA term.  I'm interested in this, too.  I don't care so much about PC.  I guess I kinda scoff that, but I don't want to be offensive to the people themselves.  I've been doing a lot of traveling and keep finding myself annoyed with myself for not knowing the correct terms.  Hispanic? Mexican? Indian?  Black? African American? Oriental? What?

 

Anyway.


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#14 of 27 Old 04-28-2011, 11:37 PM
 
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I've heard American people refer to African people as "African American" on several occasions and it always makes me chuckle. 

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#15 of 27 Old 04-29-2011, 01:51 PM
 
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I live in a very diverse university town. Black is usually the term that's generally used, in my experience, because there are just as many people who have no African background as people who do. In addition, there are many people who come here to study, or work for, the university and aren't American at all.

 

My daughter is half Mexican and I generally consider her to be Hispanic. Although many people here use the term Latina/Latino. More than when I lived in Miami.

 

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#16 of 27 Old 04-29-2011, 06:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erratum View Post

I've heard American people refer to African people as "African American" on several occasions and it always makes me chuckle. 



Yes, I remember hearing someone refer to Desmond Tutu as an "African American hero".  Ummmm, no.  He's African, and he's a hero, but that middle word surely doesn't apply. 

 

On the other hand, if you're distinguishing between Tutu and Mandela, and Malcolm X, and Dr. King, referring the the first two as "African heroes" and the latter two as "African American heroes" makes sense. 

 

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#17 of 27 Old 05-02-2011, 03:11 PM
 
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I've wondered this too.  DS is so light black he almost looks white.  DD on the other hand is dark black.  The bios are white.  I usually joke that we have dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate in our family.  :)For us, "AA" isn't accurate to refer to DD's bio family.  They are African.  So I generally go with "black" for her.  For DS I joke that he's my white black baby.  When he gets older we probably won't use that joke any more, but for now it works.


 

 

 


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#18 of 27 Old 05-03-2011, 11:42 AM
 
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Interesting. My son, who was adopted, is half white and half black, and I have no idea what his ethnic or cultural background is. He looks, to most people, Hispanic, but many people think he is white, or biracial, or even Arab. He can pass for almost anything. It's going to be hard for him, I think, to find a comfortable racial term or expression, because to so many he just looks white, but I don't want him to feel like he has to deny any part of himself. I am already nervous because my DD's school had them do a project on someone who matches their cultural background, and I can't imagine what my son will do for this project one day. :(


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#19 of 27 Old 05-03-2011, 09:39 PM
 
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I think "oriental" is generally considered offensive. It is hard. I heard that older black Americans asked that the term "negro" be put back on the census, because they had positive associations with it. I guess it changes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Just1More View Post

I just read a huge thing somewhere (hmmm, where WAS that?) where lots of black people were annoyed with the AA term.  I'm interested in this, too.  I don't care so much about PC.  I guess I kinda scoff that, but I don't want to be offensive to the people themselves.  I've been doing a lot of traveling and keep finding myself annoyed with myself for not knowing the correct terms.  Hispanic? Mexican? Indian?  Black? African American? Oriental? What?

 

Anyway.



 


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#20 of 27 Old 05-04-2011, 08:03 AM
 
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Asian = people

oriental = things

At least, that's how I understood it.

 

Regarding "negro," I read that it was just a few among the older generation who wanted it on the Census, but not many younger people.
And it should be remembered that lables used on a Census form are not necessarily the same labels that ought to be used in spoken language when referring to each other. For example, on a Census form it might make sense to label me "adoptive mom" or "foster mom" but in conversation I don't want to hear that. I just want to be "mom."

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post


I think "oriental" is generally considered offensive. It is hard. I heard that older black Americans asked that the term "negro" be put back on the census, because they had positive associations with it. I guess it changes!



 



 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuamami View Post


I think "oriental" is generally considered offensive. It is hard. I heard that older black Americans asked that the term "negro" be put back on the census, because they had positive associations with it. I guess it changes!



 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by marsupial-mom View Post


Asian = people

oriental = things

At least, that's how I understood it.

 



 



Yup.  Rugs are Oriental, people are not.  :)

 


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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissinNYC View Post

Interesting. My son, who was adopted, is half white and half black, and I have no idea what his ethnic or cultural background is. He looks, to most people, Hispanic, but many people think he is white, or biracial, or even Arab. He can pass for almost anything. It's going to be hard for him, I think, to find a comfortable racial term or expression, because to so many he just looks white, but I don't want him to feel like he has to deny any part of himself. I am already nervous because my DD's school had them do a project on someone who matches their cultural background, and I can't imagine what my son will do for this project one day. :(


That's about how my son looks.  I have had people guess hispanic too.  I was thinking maybe you could head this off with DS's teachers when the time comes by opening it up to doing a project about someone your DS admires or someone famous who was adopted.  That's his culture too... it's not just about color.

 

I think if my DS had to do a project like that someday, he could pick someone who is biracial.  It doesn't have to be someone who has his exact skin tone.  Or, since he had black and white in his heritage, he simply has a wider field of choices, since he could pick someone who is black, someone who is white, or someone who is both.

 

I really hope I can help my DS form a healthy racial identity.  I want him to be proud to be black.  Sometimes I worry that he won't be recognized as being black, since we are white, but last Sunday a little black girl came up to me at church and said, "he looks just like my little brother.  He is so cute!"  That made me feel better.  :)

 


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#23 of 27 Old 05-06-2011, 11:52 AM
 
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Quote:

 

I really hope I can help my DS form a healthy racial identity.  I want him to be proud to be black.  Sometimes I worry that he won't be recognized as being black, since we are white, but last Sunday a little black girl came up to me at church and said, "he looks just like my little brother.  He is so cute!"  That made me feel better.  :)

 


This is a concern of mine with one of my boys (his picture is the one in my profile)...when my daughter was visiting and then moved in (in june) she was insistent that i gave birth to him and then when she finally accepted he was adopted too, she said he was "not black, not really"...she and my other son (her bio brother) both have very dark skin, and my son calls himself "brown" or now with the influence of his sister "black"...but thinks Keegan is "white, like mommy"...i told him Keegan's birthmommy was just as brown as his own birthmommy (though they dont really get the whole adopted/birthmom thing yet)...K was listed as "African American" and i have no information whatsoever that his father is white (i suspect maybe the bfather is biracial?) but everyone had always seemed to assume he is biracial and thus my bio child, when we are out. It just bothers me that even within our family he is going to get the "you're not REALLY black" thing. And since i dont know "what" he is, i dont know what to say. I dont want to assume he is BR if he is not.

 


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#24 of 27 Old 05-26-2011, 10:27 AM
 
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I would suggest going to the site of Love Isn't Enough to get some great advice. I adopted transracially and found this site to be the most informative on raising a child who does and will have racial issues that I have never experienced myself. There are really thought provoking conversations on this site :)

http://loveisntenough.com/

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#25 of 27 Old 06-11-2011, 10:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by excitedtobeamom View Post

Our new son is half African American.  I was told that African American was the pc term these days but I get the feeling that black might be more common or correct.  I truely don't know but I was wondering what others had to say. 

 

First of all, big congrats on your new son!! :)

My children aren't adopted but they are biracial (I am white/dh is black). When people ask I just say my kids are biracial (I don't really like the word "mixed"). My dh's family (who are black) doesn't even use the word African American and prefer to be called black.

I would honestly just say he is biracial instead of saying "half" this or that. People can be curious but be prepared to let someone gently know when what they are saying is making you uncomfortable! I know people mean well when they say it, but I really dislike when people say "Oohhhh, mixed kids are the cutest!" like my kids are some strange exotic fruit. Be prepared for that too. And remember, you aren't required to explain your son's genetic makeup to every person you meet... it's none of their business. Somehow people seem to think it is their business and that can be downright annoying. If someone's question makes you uncomfortable, just smile and walk away. That's what I do.

 


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#26 of 27 Old 06-20-2011, 07:10 PM
 
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Whenever I read African American books or magazines, Black is usually capitalized when it refers to race.  It is an easy thing to do to show respect.

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#27 of 27 Old 06-21-2011, 07:17 AM
 
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I noticed this thread in New Posts and thought you might be interested in this article about racial terminology by Lawrence Hill. He wrote the bestselling novel, originally titled The Book of Negroes, about a slave who eventually obtains her freedom. The title refers to an actual historic document, still available for review and study, recording former slaves emigrating from the U.S. into Canada with British Loyalists after the War of Independence. It was re-titled for the American market as Someone Knows My Name. He's received some criticism about the title, most recently in the Netherlands where there's a protest and possible book burning. Mr. Hill is well aware of the issues involved, given that his father was the former chair of a human rights organization. 

 

Anyway, I thought he made some interesting observations, including: 

 

 

Racial terminology will always fail, because it is absurd to try to define a person by race. In North America we have witnessed a kaleidoscopic evolution of racial terminology over the last 50 years.

and 

And our own grandchildren are sure to laugh at the terms currently in use, such as Black and African Canadian. When they are running the country, they’ll bring their own terms into play. I like to imagine what people will be saying, instead of “Negro”, “Black” or “African-Canadian”, in 50 years.

and 
 
I tell my own children that no single word is entirely out of bounds. One must simply know the heft of each word, and use it appropriately. 
 
I think it's a healthy reminder that while we should always strive to use language respectfully, we should be cognizant and understanding of the fact that language evolves. I have a mixed heritage and look mostly Asian, but I'm not too bothered if I hear someone say "Oriental" - a term even my white DH occasionally used, until he was reminded otherwise. 

 

 

 
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