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I am NOT an “African-American”! Stop Calling Me That.

It is past-time that this be publicly said: The term “African-American” is a misnomer for native-born Black Americans; and the media, and many Black Americans, need to stop using it.

When you hear “African-American,” do you think of Charlize Theron, Elon Musk, Sienna Miller, or J.R.R. Tolkien? Probably not. You probably think of people naturally-blessed with various, rich skin tones; people who look like me, no tanning beds required. But Theron, Miller and the others were born in Africa, and immigrated to the United States. They can, and should, use that term. Native-born Black Americans should not.

I am not an “African-American.” I am an American. A proud Black American. Period. Don’t cut my citizenry in half. Don’t make it sound as if I immigrated from another country to the US. I was born here: I was born in New York; not Nairobi, nor Namibia.

Yes, my DNA has been done: Cameroon. Northern UK/Wales. Ireland. Scotland and Spain. But for the past 350-plus years, all of my ancestors were born on American soil. Not only that, they tilled this great land. Their blood, sweat, and tears watered this soil. Many built buildings, and likely hung from some trees…in the land I was born.

In 2003, the great artist Smokey Robinson recited his poem about being Black; he loves being “Black.” Smokey said don’t call him anything else. And in 2009, Barna Research conducted a study in which 78 percent of the Blacks who participated preferred to be called “Black,” not “African-American.” I concur with Barna and Smokey; as do millions of others.

I do not use the term “African-American”; it literally makes me cringe when used to refer to the general population of native-born Black Americans.

Were you born in New York? That is in America, not in Nigeria or Nairobi. Born in Kentucky? That’s not Kenya; and Boston isn’t in Botswana. (Ironically, Barack Obama—the first Black president of the United States—is, indeed, an “African-American,” because he is a first-line descendant of an African father and an American mother.)

Anthropologically, every human originated in Africa, the birthplace of humanity. Did my ancient African ancestors come to America by force over 350 years ago? Absolutely; and it was an atrocious crime of mammoth proportions. But since then, all of my ancestors were born on American soil, as was I, and millions others. I have natural, full-blooded rights to everything this great country has to offer.

Have Blacks had to fight hard to get access to those rights? Indeed; and we’re still fighting. Our forefathers fought, bled and died in that effort. But I have those rights, and I embrace them. I own them; and I enjoy them—fully—with every inch of my rich, delectable, delicious chocolate skin. I honor my African ancestors by claiming full rights to the American land on which they bled, died, and birthed my family tree. Their sacrifice is my surety to this great land.

I ask that the media stop using that divisive misnomer—“African-American.” Instead, use “Black American”—with a capital “B”—because people are not inanimate objects–like a black shirt or suit.

I suggest that those American-born Blacks inclined to perpetually cling to such verbiage, please stop. Stop rebelling against your native land—the land in which you were born. This is my country; I don’t fight against it. Is it also yours? Then stop being separatists and divisive. Work together to make it better. Instead of taking a knee, take a stand….for education, values, ownership, entrepreneurship, family structure and values. Work hard to overcome the oppressor; that comes with education, voting and respectful determination.

I stand for the national anthem, and I salute our American flag. I stand for the rights my Civil Rights warriors marched, bled, died and worked hard to secure for people of color. I honor them with my works, decency, dress and decorum.

It is the 21st century; anything you want to be, do, see, or accomplish is possible. People –Africans, Mexicans and others—come to America; and with hard work, decorum, decency and effort, they get advanced education; they achieve and excel. They work to get it done because they recognize the goodness and greatness this land makes possible.

Sure, we have tough times right now; everybody does, regardless of race. But making excuses, and perpetually looking back 400 years, isn’t going to advance your position today. Stop whining, and become winners. Stop being victims; become victors. Stop clinging to divisive identifiers: “I’m this or that; I’m in my corner; you’re in yours.” Affirm yourself and take action to make greatness happen; your greatness. We need to become one: One nation, under God. Indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Media, citizens…please stop using the term “African-American.” It is a divisive misnomer. I, and millions of Blacks like me—were born in America, on U.S. soil. I’m an American. Period. Stop cutting my citizenry in half. (By the way, I wrote this article months before and pitched it to various news outlets: Before George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. No One picked up on it. So, here it is. Please notify if you wish to reprint. Thank you.)

Copyright © 2020 Dr. Melody T. McCloud. All rights reserved. Please share this post on your social network pages, with author credit and link to this page. Bitly:  Tw: @DrMelodyMcCloud

I am NOT an “African-American”! Stop Calling Me That.

Melody T. McCloud, MD

Dr. Melody T. McCloud is a trailblazing obstetrician/gynecologist, author, public speaker and media contributor. She has received many awards including the "Health-Care Heroes ‘Physician’ Award” per the Atlanta Business Chronicle, and is also recognized as one of the “25 Most Influential Doctors in Atlanta." Dr. McCloud has been interviewed on CNN, Headline News, network affiliates, TBN, the Tom Joyner Morning Show; and her writings or comments have been printed in USA Today, Parade, Essence, Family Circle, Health, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and more. She hosts a health blog at Psychology Today and, upon invitation, speaks nationwide to many organizations. She is a member of the Atlanta Press Club and many leadership organizations.

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APA Reference
McCloud, M. (2020). I am NOT an “African-American”! Stop Calling Me That.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Jun 2020
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