"black," adj. = non-African American

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Mar 5 00:24:57 UTC 2007

At 4:03 PM -0800 3/4/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Indeed "non-African African American" is closer to what I meant.
>   If you see what I mean.
>   JL

Indeed I do.  It makes for a nice balance with that old
(semi-apocryphal, it seems) tale of a global search-and-replace
leading to some institution announcing that they were now back in the
African-American. In the case below, African-American is really
what's intended, although you'd think if anyone is African-American,
it's someone like Obama.  I guess we need a good adjective that
denotes (while not quite saying) "slave-descended".


>Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU> wrote:
>   ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender: American Dialect Society
>Poster: Laurence Horn
>Subject: Re: "black," adj. = non-African American
>At 2:17 PM -0800 3/4/07, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>Juan Williamson of NPR has just referred to "questions of whether
>>Obama is authentically black because his father was from Africa."
>>  O ye unbelievers: no change in tone to indicate radio "air quotes"
>>around anything.
>>  JL
>But wouldn't "black" here be in fact = African-American? It's that
>property (or its "authentic" application) that's being questioned
>here (i.e. because his ancestors weren't slaves). What brings his
>"black"ness per se into doubt in some quarters is the fact that his
>mother was white, and in fact apparently descended from slaveholders.
>So say the right-wing bloggers and/or Hillary's agents, anyway.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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