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An African American generally refers to a person who lives in the United States and speaks English, but whose ancestors were from Africa. It could also describe a first-generation African immigrant to the United States.
The term is usually associated with "black people". This is because of many African-Americans' dark skin. Many Africans were brought to the United States as slaves. A large amount of the U.S. population (especially in many urban or city areas) is African-American. Outside of urban areas, there is also a wide rural area from Maryland to East Texas that has a lot of African-Americans living there.
African-American refers to a specific range of diverse cultures with a common thread of ethnic connection to Africa. This term was created to describe an ethnic/cultural link to Africa for people who are American, much as in the case of Italian Americans, Irish Americans, or Polish Americans. The difference is that Italian Americans and Polish Americans know they are Americans of Italian or Polish (not general European) descent.
The 'African' in African-American acknowledges the connection to a number of African cultures, not one in particular. The 'American' shows the nationality and culture of the United States. A person born in Nigeria is still Nigerian even if he or she comes to the United States and lives here for the rest of their life. If that person wants to say that they are an American citizen, they would simply say "I am an American citizen". His American-born children could correctly call themselves Nigerian-American OR African-American.
Language and society
With their American born children came the first generation of English speaking African Americans. But this development was not the same all over the country. For example; even today the Gullah People of the Sea Islands off the Carolina and Georgia coasts still speak a language that is a blend of several African languages. They are the descendants of slaves from different countries in Africa.
In the United States when Americans say African-American or Black, they are referring to the same people. Both terms describe an ethnic group that came to exist in the United States. The Africans who were brought to America as slaves were from different nationalities and did not all speak the same language. They became a new blended ethnic group with a new language that was not their own: English.
Blacks used to be segregated in schools but since the 1960s were able to join major schools, colleges and universities. In the second half of the 20th century, reading-ability rates for blacks increased.
In America, and from an American point of view, the term 'Black' is often applied to other ethnic groups throughout the world who do not necessarily see themselves as Black. African American culture was born in the United States and is distinct from any single African culture.
African-American is a term that many Black people chose to call themselves because they found the term "Negro" offensive.
In America there are many immigrants of mixed race that includes African descent, like Cape Verdeans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans. These groups, by and large, do not think of themselves as Black or African American and object to these labels.
Many mixed race Americans also resist pressure to identify themselves as Black or White.
African Americans have influenced various forms of music, including Hip hop, R&B, funk, rock and roll, soul, blues, and other contemporary American musical forms while older black forms of music included blues, doo-wop, barbershop, ragtime, bluegrass, jazz, and gospel music. Michael Jackson, an African-American pop singer, released an album called Thriller in 1982 which is the best-selling album of all time. In the nineties Beyonce Knowles became famous as the lead singer of the R&B girl band Destiny's Child. In the 2000s she started releasing music on her own. Her first album Dangerously in Love sold 11 million copies and won five Grammy Awards.
Black culture has been the subject of documentaries. For example, the award-winning Black Is, Black Ain't explores black identity. Good Hair discusses the significance of having 'good hair' for black women in American culture.
There is a National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
Protestant Christianity is the most practised religion by African Americans.
African Americans are the poorest race in the United States. They mostly live in big cities, many of them in poor neighborhoods which are called ghettos. African Americans are also the most criminal of all races in the USA and crime is a special problem in ghettos. In prisons blacks are the majority of prisoners, although they're only 13% of the American population.