Throughout history the Black community has been described as including negro, colored, and African American. In a recent Gallup poll showed that Black people are now more inclined to be labeled as simply “Black.”
The reasoning behind why Black people may choose one label over the other due to cultural backgrounds according to Movie Exchange. In an article published in November 2020 says that the term African American was usually used when referring to a descendant of people from an African country who was enslaved. In contrast, some tended to use the word “Black” when they neither identified as African nor American or weren’t able to trace their lineage back to their native land. The organization noted that the two were not always interchangeable, although some chose to use it in that manner, depending on the situation. Gallup said while Black people accepted both terms equally, some believed despite their differences in meanings they should be interchangeable.
A recent poll from June 1, 2021, to July 5, 2021 asked, “Which term do you think should generally be used,” 17 percent of people said Black, and the same percentage chose African American, while 58 percent said it didn’t matter. The poll revealed that six percent of people favored another term, and two percent said they didn’t have an opinion either way.
Although “African-American” was already in use and later popularized in the early ’80s, but now more people started to shift to just being called “Black” or one of the two as the ’90s approached.
The difference in numbers remained about the same when subjects were asked the “preferred term for their racial subgroup, if they had to choose.” 52 percent of people leaned more toward “Black,” while 44 percent selected “African American.” Four percent had no opinions.
However, the Hispanic community appears not so open to the term “Latinx.” The word first started to appear online around 2004, and has since been popularized by due to social media users and activist.
Gallup poll said 23 percent of people believed they should be called Hispanic, 15 percent said Latino — the male term for Latin — and only 4 percent said Latin X. Elsewhere, another 57 percent said it didn’t matter.
Regarding the Black community, the data seemingly shows the argument around racial labels hasn’t done much to sway members either way.
Critics, including Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, argue that “Black is a color” and that the ‘African American’ terms better highlight cultural heritage. In a quote in an New York Times article, the civil rights leader once said, “We built the country through the African slave trade. African American acknowledges that.” He added, “Any term that emphasizes the color and not the heritage separates us from our heritage.”
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