"African-American" vs. "black" at the Olympics

David Bergdahl dlbrgdhl at GMAIL.COM
Wed Mar 8 02:41:24 UTC 2006

Last fall some of my students referred to the blacks in Conrad's "Heart of
Darkenss" as African-Americans--I think they assumed that Af-Am is the
polite form of "black" and the nationality issue never occured to
them--these same students constantly referred to "British imperialism"
despite the fact that the novella is set in the Congo--ruled by Belgium at
the time.  I think something similar is going on with the sports-writer.

On 3/7/06, Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Benjamin Zimmer <bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      "African-American" vs. "black" at the Olympics
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> From King Kaufman's sports column on Salon:
> -----
> http://www.salon.com/sports/col/kaufman/2006/03/07/tuesday/index1.html#olympics
> Two weeks ago I wrote about NBC giving American speed skater Shani
> Davis short shrift by calling him "the first African-American" to win
> an individual gold medal at the Winter Olympics when he was in fact
> the first black person of any nationality to do so.

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