Slideshows Images Quizzes

Copyright © 2018 by RxList Inc. RxList does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. See additional information.

Definition of African American

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

African American: An American of black African descent. The term may also be written with a hyphen as African-American.

The term entered into usage largely starting in 1988, when the Rev. Jesse Jackson held a news conference to urge Americans to use it to refer to blacks. African American has largely supplanted black in health matters. For example, "Breast cancer tumors in African-American women are more aggressive than tumors in white women."

The term has been a subject of debate, in part because it is ambiguous. It might be limited to Africans who have immigrated to America or to people born to one African and one American parent. Some have argued that the term African American should refer only to the descendents of slaves brought from Africa to America.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors