Eric S. Boltz (
3 Feb 1995 16:48:46 GMT (James Nicoll) wrote:

> I was curious, given that "Black" means "African-American"
> and that Americans (African or otherwise) make up a relatively small
> fraction of the African population, how you classified Africans. Are
> Africans Black, do you think?

I was speaking within the context of American society. I don't
know how the word "black" is used outside it. From what I've
heard, for example, Australians don't call aborigines "black".
Maybe they do. I don't know what the French or the Dutch called
the particular Africans they conquered. Do you?

The historical situation that makes "black" an important concept
in this society involves the kidnapping and enslavement of
Africans, who were uprooted from their original societies and
consequently lost their previous ethnic distinctness from each other.
They've built up a common heritage in its place. The situation in
Africa is completely different. The war between the "Tootsies" and
the "Hutus" should make obvious the nonexistence of a blanket
ethnic identity for all Africans.

If I were you I'd worry less about coming up with nice definitions
of words like "black", and more time becoming aware of the
social realities that justify, or fail to justify, the use of
such words. The complexity of the historical situation defies
summarization in a few neat definitions.