Is It Appropriate To Substitute African For Black?


I find myself in a situation where race is coming into the picture of my Life sim. I am wondering if I should substitute the adjective black with african. I understand some may find offense from the word black, however all of my black friends tend to be fine with the adjective black, and rather are insulted by african because it makes people seem like they’re trying too hard to not insult them. Any feedback or advice? This also carries over to other races such as White opposed to Caucasian and so on.


I wouldn’t switch Black with African for the simple reason that not all people with that type of skin color comes from Africa- and because there are people that say they’re from Africa but are of fairer skin.


Most of my black friends aren’t African. And I wouldn’t go down the “Caucasian” route either; I’ve got no known ties to the Caucasus.

If you want to give a choice of skin color, my advice (mod hat decidedly off!) would be to just make it a choice of skin color. Not “race”, not ethnicity – those are different, messier things.


@Havenstone I think I may have to go down that road. Thanks.


@Havenstone Surely no one would be offended by the word ethnicity


No, I’m not suggesting it’s offensive, just untidy. What does it mean to give someone a “choice of ethnicity”? My ethnicity certainly isn’t “white”; maybe it’s American, or Swedish-American, or Midwestern, or Anglo-American (literally Anglo, as I’ve been living in England for long enough to get a passport), or mongrel/nomad/Third Culture Kid. Ethnicity is a messy category, not well suited to a multiple choice question (sorry, US census!) and definitely not reducible to a skin color.


I would argue it would depend on the setting, and even then it might be troublesome.

If you’re having it take place in-say- the modern or Colonial Congo or some other place where there are no real non-Black Africans? Then you might be able to make it work.

If you have it in one of the melting places like the Sudan where you have the grand mashup of Arab/Egyptian/Whathaveyou and Black African cultures? Then you might be able to make it work again given the cultural outlooks of the former.

If you’re having it take place in South Africa? No, since if nothing else the Anglos and the Afrikaaners/Boers might be rightfully irritated since they’ve been around longer than a few (very, very, very few, but still) Black African tribes in the area.

Is this a Choice of Games RP that features the Scandinavian Traders during the age of the Vikings? Then probably not, since they called them “Bluemen” because they associated “Blue” with “Dark.”

If you’re having this take place outside of Africa? Definitely not.

Is this a world completely different from Earth? In that case Africa doesn’t exist, skip it.

As you’ve seen with your friends, people can be just as offended by “African” as they can be with “Black.” So I would say it would depend on the circumstances. Is “African”, “Black”, Either, or Neither a good description of this person? Would it fit in-character?

That I’d say the big issue would be.

More or less what @Havenstone said. I’d second that while my skin color is White, my family name is Dutch but most of my blood is Italian, and then we have tons of issues like the alleged English, Scottish, Irish, Greek, and maaaaybe Scandinavian ancestry. Someone even said that I was part Japanese and I am still not 100% sure they were joking or not serious.


I’d make it purely a choice of color, not ethnicity. Keep in mind, you can always just make the choices be “light” or “dark” skin.


I think it’s really up to you on which route you take, but in mg opinion, black is find instead of African American. besides it is kinda weird for any my white or Asian friends to say “wassup my African American friend!”


Black and African-American are both descriptors in the US. In my new game, I based it off the US Census criteria since my game is based in the US and my style of game allows a race/ethnicity choice.


I would say stick with black because I don’t think there is anything inherently offensive about referring to someone as “black”.

But then I don’t know if my opinion is all that valid considering i’m Scottish. A race of white people so white we are blue.


Black is fine as long as you aren’t using it in a negative context. African is iffy, because not every black person is from Africa (there is a huge black population in China, for instance), and a lot of the current race arguments in America (mostly from whites) use ‘African’ as a kind of separator, to avoid acknowledging non-whites as ‘American’.

But idk so long as you actually back it up (by actually making the player African) you should be good either way.


I’m an African American and I primarily identify myself as black. Most people do. Plus I’ve never even been to Africa.


In the UK there is an option of circling ‘Black-other’ or ‘White-other’ in censuses and you don’t really have to specifiy. I’m not sure whether there’s an ‘Asian-other’ or it just says ‘Asian’ but you get my drift.


America is basically the only country on earth where people get offended if you call someone black.


Try it in India.

And most Americans aren’t offended at all.



That isn’t really true. I mean here in the UK we aren’t allowed to refer to Black Boards, or Black Sheep as Black instead we have to say “Chalk Board” and “Wooly Sheep” ya know cause Black Boards and Black Sheep are racist apparently.


In spain put your race in census are considerated racist. also we could cover female choice being men cover both or choose other. Have a masculine name being woman… So for me all this census thing is weird lol. it´s only police or inmigration who describe using race in passport you have a photo when clearly see your skin color why need put your ancestors in a paper?

What matter if im a spanish spanish or half russian? :-?


@MocktheWeek6, I’m Black and American and I never have been offended by someone calling me Black. I’ve never met someone who found that offensive, either.