Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

A New Name?

with 2 comments

A few years ago when I was in community college, I took a class titled Intro to African American History. In the class, we watched a documentary by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Yes, the same Harvard professor involved in the Obama Beer Summit).  In the doc he postulated that the name provided to the black American will change within the decade.  He chronicled the decades from the twentieth century and how names given to the black Americans have changed, from an N-word that I won’t reproduce here, to colored, to negro, to black, to African American.  Since popular culture has changed approximately every decade he thought the new name would come from roots long established in Africa.  The new/old name that he gave was Neo-Nubians, from the long ago Nubian race that existed along the Nile river south of Egypt.  Since this has yet to take off, I was wondering, what others think about our current system of identification for the black American race?  A friend of my sisters will not refer to herself or anyone else as black or white, instead she calls everyone brown or tan.  I personally think that this is a similar form of semantics, but I wonder if anyone else has some new perspective to offer to this interesting argument.


Written by jamesrobertson1

November 14, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. This is an interesting concept. Before reading this post, I hadn’t done a lot of thinking about the changing names of African Americans. I feel as though the names used in the past, including colored, negro and simply “black”, were somewhat degrading. Although I am not African American myself, I do not feel as though this title is degrading. Therefore, I am not quick to say that a new name will be created. In terms of the current system of identification for the black American race, there is an earlier post that touches upon this very subject. We seem to use the terms black and African American interchangeably. I believe it is because black can sound degrading, as previously stated. However, not all blacks are African American and therefore, it is problematic that we use these names interchangeably. Unfortunately I do not have a solution…


    November 17, 2009 at 2:50 am

  2. This does pose an interesting and difficult question. Different people are offended by different things. You could also bring up the differences between calling someone of Asian descent Asian American ore Oriental. Personally I see no problem with either of the two, yet a bad connotation is often placed on the use of the word Oriental. I think this is truly a difficult question and may prove to be a case where you just can’t make everyone happy.


    November 17, 2009 at 3:44 am

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