African American

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
States by proportion of African American population in 2010:
  • less than 2%
  • 2-5%
  • 5-10%
  • 10-15%
  • 15-20%
  • 20-25%
  • 25-30%
  • 30-35%
  • 35-40%
  • As African American ( English African Americans ) are about 40 million citizens of the United States of America referred whose ancestors mostly from the south of the Sahara located part of Africa come. The vast majority of them are the descendants of the approximately 6.5 million people during the Atlantic slave trade from 1619 to 1808 of European traffickers to America abducted and especially in the Caribbean and North America as slaveswere exploited. Almost 160 years after slavery was abolished in the United States , the country's African American population continues to grapple with racially motivated discrimination.

    Affiliation and demarcation

    In the times of slavery and segregation , anyone with "a drop of black blood" was considered black; In other words, regardless of their external appearance, those people were considered black if they had a "black African" ancestor. At that time these were called "Negroes" or "Colored". However, due to the success of the anti-discrimination and civil rights movement, this racial attribution of the so-called “one-drop rule” has been increasingly questioned as racist since the late 1960s and has lost its importance.

    The demarcation of African-Americans from US citizens of European or Latin American descent ( whites and Latinos ) is often difficult today, as there have been strong ethnic mixes over the centuries . There is no generally accepted definition of how many ancestors people are considered to be “European” / “white” or “Afro-American” / “black”. African-Americans often use this term to refer critically to the history of slavery in the United States , thereby differentiating themselves from ethnicizing and racist terms such as “ negro ” or “ colored ”. Another self-designation is "Black" ( black ), which is often very important for political considerations.

    The question of who is African American has recently become a common one with the immigration of people from the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa to the US and the increase in the number of people who consider themselves “multiracial” (in English usage) put differently. The election of Barack Obama as President of the United States also contributed to this discussion. Since the 1980s there has also been a strong immigration of sub-Saharan Africans (especially from Nigeria , Ghana and Ethiopia ) to the USA. The children of these immigrants grow up as Americans, but their family biographies are not shaped by the historical experiences of African Americans.

    In African American studies , the term African American in the Melville J. Herskovits tradition generally refers to ethnic groups on the American double continent who have ancestors from sub-Saharan Africa.

    History of the African American

    Africans have been deported as slaves to what would later become the United States' territory since the early colonial days . Most of them did not come directly from Africa to the North American mainland at that time , but were sold to the sugar cane plantations in the Caribbean. The first black slaves on the American continent were Atlantic Creoles . In large numbers, enslaved Africans have been brought directly to the 13 British colonies in America since the 18th century when plantation economies emerged in the southern colonies .

    A family of slaves on a South Carolina plantation , 1862

    The Declaration of Independence of the United States in 1776 did not lead directly to the abolition of slavery, despite its highly regarded preamble, in which all human beings were granted the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even the northern states , whose economy relied only to a small extent on the labor of slaves, only gradually passed laws for their gradual release. In the southern states , slavery not only continued, but expanded after the invention of the Egrenier machine from around 1800 made the massive use of slaves on cotton plantations particularly profitable. Abolitionists began to gain influence in the north in the 1830s , and in 1860, with their support, Abraham Lincoln was elected president, who advocated the gradual abolition of slavery. After his election in 1861, eleven southern states left the Union and formed the Confederate States of America . This secession led to the Civil War , which the northern states won. After the Union was restored, Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865 , which finally abolished slavery throughout the United States.

    The civil war was followed by the brief era of Reconstruction until 1877 , during which the southern states remained occupied by Union troops. At that time, the military administration ensured compliance with the laws that granted former slaves the right to vote and stand for election. After the end of the occupation, however, the southern states immediately set about reversing the emancipation of African Americans as much as possible, for example with the help of the discriminatory " Jim Crow laws ". Also immediately after the civil war, supporters of the former confederation founded the Ku Klux Klan , a racist organization. Its members used terror, violence and lynching against African Americans in order to intimidate and suppress them. The Ku Klux Klan was and is the most striking exponent of a white supremacy ideology that is widespread in the USA to this day. He also counts Jews , Catholics and members of other non- Protestant faiths among his opponents .

    Civil Rights Movement: Closing rally of the
    March on Washington 1963

    The ongoing confrontation with poverty and racial discrimination led from 1910 to 1970 as a comprehensive and long-lasting migration movement, the Great Migration , millions of African Americans from the southern states in the in the course of the Midwest , the Mid-Atlantic States and southern New England , but also to California attracted . As a reaction to the very hesitant legal equality and racial segregation , which had already been legalized under the motto separate but equal since 1896, the Afro-American civil rights movement was formed in the mid-1950s , which included such unequal personalities as Martin Luther King , Malcolm X and later Stokely Carmichael from the Black Panther Party . It tried out a variety of political methods of struggle - such as boycott , civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance - and thereby enforced the abolition of segregation and the at least formal, complete equality of African Americans.

    Nevertheless, American society is still characterized by a structural racism up to the present day . The African American population sees itself disadvantaged in a number of ways. Their relatives have fewer educational opportunities and are generally poorer than their white fellow citizens. Their per capita income is only 62% of the median income of a non-Hispanic white, their children grow up disproportionately often in incomplete families, and their husbands are also disproportionately often in prison: around 8 percent of African-Americans are permanently incarcerated . To counteract discrimination and its consequences, organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and programs such as Affirmative Action (“positive discrimination”) were created. The latter is criticized or rejected entirely by conservative whites in particular. Another point of criticism is that support programs for the benefit of African Americans disproportionately often benefit children of African and Caribbean immigrants. The question of whether the descendants of black slaves are entitled to reparation payments has recently been discussed in the USA. After the killing of George Floyd by white police officers in May 2020, which led to nationwide protests and serious unrest , the discrimination against African Americans also returned to international public awareness.

    Situation in the United States today

    Use of language

    Since the abolition of any kind of segregation in the USA in the post-war period, African-American or Afro-American is now the most common term used to describe membership of an African diaspora . It is used in a similar context to Black . The term Negro , which was still considered "neutral" in the middle of the 20th century and was also used by Afro-Americans themselves, is now considered derogatory and is no longer used.

    The term Colored was used in the United States only to refer to people of (partially) sub-Saharan African descent because of their dark / black skin color. People with a different skin color were not included in the term. At the time of segregation there were many separate facilities just for them, for example schools, bus compartments, toilets and waiting rooms at transport hubs. Coloreds belonged to the "non- white people " along with other population groups . As a euphemism , the term has appeared again and again in official texts since the colonial times in the USA. In contrast to the free people of color, colored people were largely equated with slaves. The Colored Soldiers Monument in Frankfort , Kentucky is one of the few war memorials dedicated to the African American United States Colored Troops . The name of the civil rights organization National Association for the Advancement of Colored People can be traced back to the older language usage, today mostly only the abbreviation NAACP is used.


    Distribution of the African American population according to the United States Census Bureau in the USA ( 2010 census )

    region Absolute number Share in the
    total Afro-American group
    Southern states 23,105,082 55.0%
    Middle West 07,594,486 18.1%
    Northeast 07,187,488 17.1%
    west 04,133,687 09.8%

    Development of the African American population

    year number Share in the
    total population
    1790 0.757.208 19.3%
    1800 1.002.037 18.9%
    1810 1,377,808 19.0%
    1820 1,771,656 18.4%
    1830 2,328,642 18.1%
    1840 2,873,648 16.8%
    1850 3,638,808 15.7%
    1860 4,441,830 14.1%
    1870 4,880,009 12.7%
    1880 6,580,793 13.1%
    1890 7,488,788 11.9%
    1900 8,833,994 11.6%
    1910 9,827,763 10.7%
    1920 10.5 million 09.9%
    1930 11.9 million 09.7%
    1940 12.9 million 09.8%
    1950 15.0 million 10.0%
    1960 18.9 million 10.5%
    1970 22.6 million 11.1%
    1980 26.5 million 11.7%
    1990 30.0 million 12.1%
    2000 34.6 million 12.3%
    2010 38.9 million 12.6%

    Large cities with predominantly African American populations include Detroit (82.7%), Atlanta (54.0%), Memphis (63.3%), Baltimore (63.7%), Newark (52.4%), Washington DC (50.7%) and Cleveland (51.0%).

    African Americans in South and Central America

    In a broader sense, the term “Afro-American” includes all population groups of black African descent in North , Central and South America , such as the Afro-Canadians , Afro-Brazilians , Afro-Colombians , Afro-Cubans or the Afro- Caribs . The Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking population groups are also distinguished as Afro-Latin Americans from the mostly English- or French-speaking Afro-Americans of North America.



    • Sarah A. Tishkoff et al .: The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans. In: Science , Volume 324, No. 5930, 2009, pp. 1035-1044, DOI: 10.1126 / science.1172257 .
    • Ron Eyerman: Cultural Trauma: Slavery and the Formation of African American Identity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2001, ISBN 978-0-5210-0437-4 .
    • John Hope Franklin , Alfred A. Moss Jr .: From Slavery to Freedom. The history of black people in the United States. Propylaea paperback. Propylaenverlag, Berlin 1999, ISBN 3-548-26550-2 .
    • Ulrike Heider : Black anger and white fear. Travel through Afro America. Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, Frankfurt 1996, ISBN 3-596-12344-5 .

    reference books

    • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Ed.): The African American National Biography. Oxford University Press, New York 2008 (comprehensive biographical reference work).
    • Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Ed.): Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience. Basic Civitas Books, New York 1999, ISBN 0-465-00071-1 .

    Web links

    Commons : African American  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

    Individual evidence

    1. Cf. Arndt, Hornscheidt: Africa and the German language. Unrat, Münster 2003, ISBN 3-89771-424-8 .
    2. Cf. Rossbach de Olmos, Lioba and Bettina E. Schmidt (eds.): Ideas about Afromerica - Afro-Americans and their ideas. Contributions of the regional group Afroamerica at the conference of the German Society for Ethnology in Göttingen 2001. Introduction (accessed on March 26, 2007).
    3. US Census ( Memento from April 20, 2006 in the Internet Archive )
    4. ^ Young Black Males Headed for Extinction? , The Washington Post , accessed May 30, 2010.
    5. Quick Facts About the Bureau of Prisons , Federal Bureau of Prisons , accessed May 30, 2010.
    6. Top Colleges Take More Blacks, but Which Ones? , The New York Times , accessed May 27, 2010.
    7. America's Trillion Question: Should Afro-Americans Be Paid "Reparations" For Slavery? Neue Zürcher Zeitung , accessed on June 18, 2020