The proper term for people with dark skin

Best term to describe a person with dark skin?

  • Negro

    Votes: 2 5.4%
  • Black

    Votes: 18 48.6%
  • Colored

    Votes: 1 2.7%
  • Dark-Skinned

    Votes: 7 18.9%
  • Other answers

    Votes: 9 24.3%

  • Total voters
    37
  • Poll closed .
May 2012
847
Puerto Rico
Skin color is a key component of human diversity. We are simply born with it and (unless your case is like that of Michael Jackson) we eventually pass away with it. However, it has also stirred issues (of which I'll mention some pertaining to dark-skinned people):

-Apartheid in South Africa

-Racial segregation in the U.S.

-Slavery, particularly in the Americas

-19th century imperialism

-Among other things

We know that dark-skinned people have carried a heavy burden since the days of settlement in the Americas (at the least). Light-skinned people, on the other hand, mostly benefited from this exploitation.


And yet, it's not all bad. These are the same people to which we owe a large part of the music in the Americas: salsa, reggae, blues, jazz, etc. Culture simply wouldn't be the same without their impact.

So, the question is: which term is best to describe them?
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Salah

Forum Staff
Oct 2009
23,284
Maryland
I'll second Vintersorg's sentiments here.

From my experience, 'Negro' and 'Colored' are both considered old-fashioned at best, and a genteel way of saying "nigger" at worst, at least in America. Both terms appear widely in old books, but I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Black person happy with being described with either of these terms.

Of course the politically-correct designation in America is African-American. The white-guilt kiss-ups can't use it enough, while the conservatives and closet racists bristle and launch ugly little tirades about how the world is racist against white people because nobody calls them Caucasian-Americans.

The funny thing is, I grew up in a predominately Black neighborhood; most of my classmates and coworkers, many of my friends, and two of my ex-girlfriends were Black - and out of all these people, I can only think of two or three that would have taken offense if you simply referred to them as being 'Black'.

Speaking for America, I would therefore suggest that 'Black' is probably the term least likely to offend anybody of any pigment.

The other day, I overheard an acquaintance voicing her commentary on the differences between the terms 'nigger' and 'nigga' (which are one and the same to many white ears). She claimed that she wouldn't find it offensive for one of her white friends to call her 'nigga' because its a term of endearment.

So I guess the secret might not be what you say, but how you say it. That's what my mother always told me anyways :)

Generally speaking, though, if I encounter a 'person with dark skin' that I'm familiar with, I refer to him/her/them by name. If I encounter a 'person with dark skin' that I'm not familiar with, I say "Hi, I'm Salah, what's your name?" and take it from there.

That approach hasn't let me down yet.
 
Sep 2012
932
Prague, Czech Republic
Of course the politically-correct designation in America is African-American. The white-guilt kiss-ups can't use it enough, while the conservatives and closet racists bristle and launch ugly little tirades about how the world is racist against white people because nobody calls them Caucasian-Americans.
The main problem with the term 'African-American' is that it leads to situations like the (possibly apocryphal) interview between an American reporter and British athlete Kriss Akabusi. The reporter supposedly referred to him as an African-American and, upon being corrected, fell back on the term 'British African-American'.
 

Pacific_Victory

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
7,654
MARE PACIFICVM
The main problem with the term 'African-American' is that it leads to situations like the (possibly apocryphal) interview between an American reporter and British athlete Kriss Akabusi. The reporter supposedly referred to him as an African-American and, upon being corrected, fell back on the term 'British African-American'.
Stuff like this happens all the time because, when most Americans hear 'African-America' they think color, not nationality.
 
Mar 2012
18,030
In the bag of ecstatic squirt
The main problem with the term 'African-American' is that it leads to situations like the (possibly apocryphal) interview between an American reporter and British athlete Kriss Akabusi. The reporter supposedly referred to him as an African-American and, upon being corrected, fell back on the term 'British African-American'.
I think that is the measure of how efficient some media people are these days. Someone who was told to buy doughnut by his mom was suddenly hired as media man because his voice was alright and he looks nice on t.v.
 
Jun 2013
1,175
Canada
I call people by their individual names, if I know them. If, however, I don't know them and they insist on applying a categorical name to themselves beforehand (e.g., "black"), I may myself use that categorical name (even if the people in question are, in fact, not black, but rather some clearly unmelanistic shades).

I don't like to be categorized, because no categorical terms I have ever heard completely or accurately describe me. Like everyone else, I am unique -- in my genetics, my looks, my views. I'm just me. And everyone else is equally unique and individual. Some, however -- many, in fact -- insist on being identified with some bloc. I can't relate with blocs, which typically are composed of self-serving ax-grinders and self-righteous crusaders whose aim is to impose themselves and their views.
 
Dec 2012
126
Sydney, Australia
It depends. If they are Kenyan, for example, I'll call them Kenyan. With people who are from Western countries it gets more complex, but normally I say their nationality, I'll add on black if the conversation is racial.

Like, if I say I know a guy from France, I'll call him French, it is only if it becomes necessary for the conversation that I'll explicitly say he's black. Black Americans, or African-Americans or whatever, here are just normally referred to as "American".
 
Jan 2013
5,835
Canberra, Australia
From my experience, 'Negro' and 'Colored' are both considered old-fashioned at best, and a genteel way of saying "nigger" at worst, at least in America. Both terms appear widely in old books, but I'm not sure if I've ever seen a Black person happy with being described with either of these terms.
Are you too young to remember that Martin Luther King habitually and publicly used the term "Negro" to define himself and his people?

I suggest you listen to his "I have a dream" speech.
 
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